In Christopher Marlowe's play, The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, written about 1590, the audience learns that Faustus wasn't born into the German nobility.
CHORUS. Now is he born, his parents base of stock,
In Germany, within a town called Rhodes:
Of riper years, to Wertenberg he went,
Whereas his kinsmen chiefly brought him up. (Chorus 1, 11-14)
Despite his notably humble birth, Faustus nevertheless achieves noble heights in his scholarly endeavors, at which he excelled in medicine, law, logic, and theology.
CHORUS. So soon he profits in divinity,
The fruitful plot of scholarism graced,
That shortly he was graced with doctor's name,
Excelling all whose sweet delight disputes
In heavenly matters of theology... (Chorus 1, 15-19)
Faustus's nobility arises from his learning and knowledge, his intelligence, his genius, and the nobility of his soul, all of which he compromises in pursuit of pleasure, wealth, and fame.
Although Faustus possesses extreme nobility of mind and the inherent nobility of his soul, Faustus lacks nobility of character. He revels in the pleasures of the flesh, and he uses his intellectual gifts not for the betterment of himself or mankind, but to seek fame and fortune.
Faustus expends his time and energy in foolish and frivolous pursuits. He conjures up historical figures to amuse Emperor Charles and his court, and he makes himself invisible to play practical jokes on the Pope.
Faustus also suffers from excessive arrogance. Faustus is able to redeem his soul from Lucifer at the last minute, even after twenty-four years of self-degradation, simply by asking God for forgiveness, but his pride won't allow him to save himself from eternal damnation.