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The kings rewarded persons who performed a heroic deed or notable achievement or held a prominent position in government by granting them a noble title.
Most family traditions of a noble ancestor turn out, on investigation, to have little foundation in fact. Most members of the noble class did not emigrate to the United States. In addition, contrary to prevailing opinion, it was not customary to disown members of noble families for unacceptable behavior. Thus, traditions of an ancestor being "erased" or eliminated from "all records" are usually unfounded.
About five percent of the population in Denmark belonged to the nobility. There was little division between upper and lower nobility. Denmark limited the growth of the noble class. Laws specified which children of the nobility inherited their parents' status.
Names of Danish nobility and biographical information about them can be found in the nobility books for Denmark [Danmarks Adels Aarbog]. These books are available at the Family History Library and on microfilm at Family History Centers:
Hiort-Lorenzen, H. R., and A. Thiset. Danmarks Adels Aarbog (Denmark's Nobility Yearbook). 89 vols. København: P. G. Philipsens, Inc., 1884-1968. (FHL book 948.9 D55d; film 1,124,534-45.)
For more information, see the "Genealogy" section. The Family History Library has collected some records of noble families. These records are listed in the catalog under—
DENMARK - NOBILITY
DENMARK, [COUNTY] - NOBILITY
DENMARK, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - NOBILITY