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Modern Class Systems as They Evolved from Medieval Concepts of Class - Essay Example

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Modern Class Systems as They Evolved from Medieval Concepts of Class

The estate system was designed to be working units that supported each other, but with a great disparity in wealth. The royals and the nobility owned the land on which the peasants worked, with the clergy having its own disparities through which social standing was based. The emergence of both a merchant class and technologies lead to the development of stratification which exists within the United States. Through the example of the Medieval social class system which provided for a small amount of social mobility, the development of the stratification social system was allowed to emerge in which the social classes still exist, but have mobility through both achievement and opportunity. Society in the middle ages can be viewed from a class system of stratification that is called the estate system. While some social mobility was possible in this system, it was primarily based on the inheritability of class. The three main estates during the time of Medieval Europe were the clergy, the nobility, and the peasants. The nobility class was the warrior class which provided protection for the other estates. Their position was based upon military strength and they were charged with the security and social order of the community. They were under the direction of a royal landowning family. The peasant class had little power and was legally tied to the land, proving food and services to the nobility. The clergy were also defined as an estate class that was under the authority of the royal family with the responsibility of tending to the spiritual needs of the community, but also consisting of some powerful landowners within its group (Tischler 200). Social mobility was very difficult within the estate system, but it was not impossible. Money was the method through which most mobility occurred, although military service could provide a change in fortune if that service was recognized with a sufficient reward. The most opportunity for social mobility was seen through the clergy where the lack of heritability due to the clergy being unable to marry meant that those joining would be doing so from the outside. Within the clergy, lowborn men usually would be given lower positions while those who were high born would be given greater positions within the hierarchy of the Church (Rotberg 20). Although mobility was difficult, through these means the idea of the potential for mobility existed within the philosophy of the estate system. The beginnings of change began during this time period as a few merchants and traders began to form their own class of people through which the acquisition of money which was not based on inheritance or social position. Through these businesses the middle class was born. This was a difficult situation as “moral counselors were suspicious of personal ambition, which they equated with avarice or pride” (Rotberg 20). This may be the cause of the slow emersion of the merchant class combined with a surge in the number of nobility in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries (Rotberg 21). Wareham discusses that the eleventh century in England “was characterized by exceptional social mobility (126). The shift in class philosophy can be seen in comparing the Northleoda Laga, one of the social and legal codes from the period, which stated that “a ceorl (i.e. a free peasant) remained a free peasant even if ‘he possesses a helmet and a coat of mail and a gold-plated sword” to the period after 1066 when the Normans conquered England when a great many English nobility ...Show more
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Client’s Name Class Date Modern Class Systems as They Evolved from Medieval Concepts of Class The class systems in contemporary European and American society are the result of the class systems that developed in Europe during the medieval period…
Modern Class Systems as They Evolved from Medieval Concepts of Class
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