My family has controlled England for years through our seats in the House of Lords.
My family, too, wields great power. Corruption has allowed families like ours to dominate the House of Commons in addition.
I am a noble of the robe. My family has held bureaucratic power in France for ages!
I am a noble of the sword. The King has rewarded my military service with this title. I do not hold a position in Versailles, though.
To cope with the growing power of monarchies as a surge of political centralization swept across Europe, nobles had to change with the times. They did, however maintain their economic, political and social power largely by protecting their physical land and capital. Another challenge to their power was the rapidly expanding wealthy middle class.
Nobility and Monarchy (in France)
Come noble, live at Versailles where you shall be part of my royal court.
The English nobility was one of the most powerful and exclusive social classes in Europe at the time. Though they legally held power in the House of Lords in Parliament, government corruption allowed them to heavily influence the House of Commons indirectly and directly.
How dare you all ruin my crop? I will exile you! Also, I'm collecting taxes now!
The French nobility was much larger than Britain's and had many more divisions including diverse economic positions, varying reasons of obtaining titles, etc. The nobles of cooperated against the monarchy when they were challenged, however.
Junkers and Frederick the Great
We are Junkers! Someday, we will become the leaders of this army and we will help to rule Prussia!
While the power of the monarchy increase (especially under Louis XIV), members of the French aristocracy were the prime choices for both military and government appointments. The high offices -when attained- gave the nobility great power.
In Poland, where there was little centralized government, nobles were often the sole rulers of their regions. They often used their land to employ basic serfdom rather than industrialize (like many wealthy westerners). This not only increased their economic ground but social power too. Polish nobles also had great power over their serfs including the right to sentence a serf to death. This, however, was taken away in 1768.
Nobles played a crucial role in Prussia, especially in the military. While some nobles were not required to serve in the army (as of 1762), most nobles both directly served and climbed the ranks of the military, or used their power to influence Frederick the Great's wars.
I have used my military power to limit and control the government's military decisions.