Such a nobility differed far more widely from either the Roman or the Venetian patriciate than they differed from one another.
It never could come so nearly as a civic patriciate could to being something like the rule of the best in any sense of those words.
Foremost among these was the great commercial capital, Amsterdam, whose rich burgher patriciate did not scruple on occasion to defy the authority of the States-General, the stadholder and even of the States of Holland themselves.
The traditions of early Rome indeed represent the patricians as receiving the Claudii by a collective act into their body; but the first authenticated instance of the admission of new members to the patriciate is that of the lex Cassia, which authorized Caesar as dictator to create fresh patricians.
Now the analogy between this change and the change from the Roman patriciate to the later Roman nobilitas is obvious.
The cause of the difference seems to be that, while the origin of the patriciate was exactly the same at Rome and at Athens, the origin of the commons was different.
The renowned patriciate of Venice was as far removed as might be from the character either of a nobility of conquest or of a nobility of older settlement.
A comparison of this procedure with the original conception of the patriciate as revealed by the derivation of the word, is significant of the history of the conception of nobility at Rome, and illustrative of the tenacity with which the Romans clung to the name and form of an institution which had long lost its significance.
But if differed from the old patriciate in this, that, while the privileges of the old patriciate rested on law, or perhaps rather on immemorial custom, the privileges of the new nobility rested wholly on a sentiment of which men could remember the beginning.
The Spartan patriciate could afford to disfranchise some of its own members.