The German and Scandinavian term Uradel (literally: original or ancient feudal nobility) refers to nobility who can trace back their noble ancestry at least to the year 1400 and probably originates from leadership positions during the Migration Period.
Divisions of German nobility
- Uradel (ancient Nobility): Nobility that dates back to at least the 1500s, and originates from leadership positions during the Migration Period.
- Briefadel (newer nobility): Nobility by patent. The first known document is from September 30 1360 for Wyker Frosch in Mainz.
- Hochadel (high nobility): Nobility that was sovereign or had a high degree of sovereignty, usually including the right of high justice (ability to impose death sentences).
- Niederer Adel (lower nobility): Nobility that had a lower degree of sovereignty. The majority of knightly families and in general of the origination of the many names including the prefix von (of or from placename) and zu (at a given placename) or even von und zu (of/from and still at a given placename).