During the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph the imperial Court was the yardstick against which the social life of the city measured itself. The two Court balls were the highlights of the ball season. Viennese Court society was particularly elitist and conscious of its elevated status. This exclusive upper echelon was composed of less than 400 families. The ‘first tier’ of society, that is, those members of the hereditary aristocracy who were admitted at Court, kept a jealous watch to ensure that they preserved their exclusive status.