Ennoblement is the conferring of nobility—the induction of an individual into the noble class. Currently only a few kingdoms still grant nobility to people; among them Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Vatican. Depending on time and region, various laws have governed who could be ennobled and how. Typically, nobility was conferred on individuals who had assisted the sovereign. In some countries (e.g. France under the Ancien Régime), this degenerated into the buying of patents of nobility, whereby rich commoners (e.g. merchants) could purchase a title of nobility.