1) Catholic hierarchy : nobiliary element in Catholic Church by Jan-Olov von Wowern
It seems to me that some of oldest still surviving hierarchies are those of nobility, Church and military. What is perhaps not commonly known is how they correspond with each other. Below is an outline of correspondence between catholic hierarchy of Holy Roman Catholic Church and that of nobility.
Let me first say that all noblemen are dependent on a Prince or Monarch for their noble rank. Catholic priests have since time immemorial held rank equivalent to that of an (untitled) nobleman, nobile. It is from a nobiliary standpoint interesting to reflect upon Lateran Pacts of 1929 between Holy See and Italy. The Vatican City State is recognized as a sovereign country and Supreme Pontiff as its Sovereign, in this capacity equal to King of Italy. Article 21 of "Conciliation Treaty" states that "All Cardinals shall enjoy, in Italy, honours due to Princes of Blood". (For text, see http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/treaty.htm ).
This means that two top levels of noble hierarchy are defined, and they correspond to equal ranks of priesthood. The other steps follow by extrapolation in only way possible.
Catholic Hierarchy Noble hierarchy
Pope Monarch Cardinal Prince Archbishop Duke/Marquis Bishop / Aux. Bishop Count/Baron Monsignore/Priest Noble
Of course a number of details may be argued. It should however be noted that other codification exists as well. In Almanach de Gota, all Cardinals are listed as having rank of Prince (http://www.almanachdegotha.com/ ). In his book "The Holy See and International Order", that most distinguished diplomat of Holy See H.E. Archbishop Hyginus Eugene Cardinale has devoted part of a chapter to "Armorial bearings, attire and titles of Catholic priests", and entire book is highly recommended.