The Swedish nobility (Adeln) has historically been a legally and/or socially privileged class in Sweden, part of the so-called frälse (derivation from Old Swedish meaning free neck). The archaic term for nobility, frälse, also included the clergy a classification defined by tax exemptions and representation in the diet. Today, the nobility is still very much a part of Swedish society but they do not maintain many of their former privileges. They still do possess some privileges such as the protection by law of their family names, titles and coats of arms. The Swedish nobility consists of both "introduced" (introducerad adel) and "unintroduced" nobility (ointroducerad adel), the latter has not been "introduced" at the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset).
The House of Nobility also has a special tax for all noblemen over the age of 18. Belonging to the nobility in present day Sweden still carries some social privileges, and is of certain social and historical significance.
Swedish nobility is organized into three classes according to a scheme introduced in riddarhusordningen (Standing orders of the House of Knights) 1626
The two last classes contains the so-called untitled nobility (Swedish: obetitlad adel). The division into classes has roots in the Middle Ages when the nobility frälse was divided into lords in the Privy Council, knights and esquires. Until 1719 the three classes voted separately, but in the Age of Liberty all classes were voting together with one vote for each family head (Swedish: huvudman). This made the vast majority of the untitled nobility in power, for example officers and civil servants were represented.
In 1778 Gustav III restored the classes and class voting and at the same time he reformed the Class of Knights. Originally this class only contained family descendants of Privy Councillors and was the smallest class of the three classes. But Gustav III also introduced in this class the 300 oldest families in the Class of Esquire and also the "commander families", who are of the descendants of commanders of the Order of the Northern Star and the Order of the Sword. No more commander families were introduced in the House of Knights after 1809, and thereafter also the class voting was abolished and the nobility was then voting as during the Age of Liberty.