The existence of the human being has been permanently characterized by the search for their position among those around them. The estates that existed during the Middle Ages are proof of this. What were medieval estates?
The social positioning system that existed at this important time in history was a way of categorizing the function and destiny of each person who was born, and it also determined the privileges and rights of what they could enjoy. The study of this feature of the Middle Ages allows us to define how human behavior worked in this period. Let’s see more about the Medieval Estates .
What were the Medieval Estates?
It was a system that determined the organization of medieval society. Through the estates, it was decreed to which social status each individual belonged . As a consequence, each person was aware of the rights and privileges to which their social class gave them access, as well as the role they played in the medieval community. On the other hand, the estates were not a form of government, they were only a social order that identified the individuals who lived in the medieval age.
This model dates back to what is historically known as late antiquity in the 3rd century . Henri Pirenne, who appealed to the social definition of every human being, has been credited with creating this social pattern. Estamento society came to an end in the 8th century when the currents of Islam spread and feudalism established itself as an ideological and political model.
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Characteristics of the Medieval Estates
- The estates were partially static. They were defined by the conditions of birth or inheritance of the person . However, throughout life, conditions could change the class to which someone belonged. Although the cases were very rare, circumstances such as marriage, being named a noble or having a religious office allowed individuals from this historical period to climb rungs in society.
- Although it was possible to climb positions in the estate society, marital unions between members of different estates was a criticized situation . So its frequency was very rare.
- The maximum rights and privileges of society were conferred on members of the nobility and clergy .
- Even within each estate there was a division of upper and lower classes. In the case of the nobility, those who were closest to royalty were distinguished. In the religious sphere, characters such as cardinals and bishops were the outstanding figures. Even in the lower class, made up mostly of farm workers, union masters and figures from the upper bourgeoisie occupied a higher position. What were medieval estates?
- There were differences between the laws that each of the estates obeyed . Therefore, the laws that governed the nobility were not the same that governed the clergy, and the same was applicable for members of the third estate .
- The functions of each estate were established. The nobles were the ones who protected the church and the members of the servants were in charge of supplying the goods that everyone else needed for subsistence . It was said of this working class that to obtain what they needed, they had to suffer, because that is what they were born for.
- The estates guaranteed a completely unequal society .
Classification of Medieval Estates
The social classes of the medieval age were organized from people with more influence to those of lesser social category. In medieval society there were three estates, which were: the nobles, the clergy and the third estate .
This was the highest social level of medieval times. It was made up of the president of the nation, whose figure in many medieval cultures was represented by the King . Marquises, dukes and counts followed him . These members of high society administered large tracts of territory. Therefore, if a person who belonged to a lower class sought to obtain a field, he had to buy it from one of the nobles. It was up to the nobles not only to set the prices of the land, but also to protect the laws and enforce them. Nobles who performed their duties well were highly rewarded by the king, granting them more extensive lands to rule over.
On the other hand, within the nobility there was a lower class. This was made up of the knights . These members did not own land in their name. The law gave them only one armor, weapon and horse. Its function was to protect the nobles and the territories occupied by the peasants.
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The clergy What were medieval estates?
It was made up of all the members of the Church such as cardinals, monks, priests or bishops . Most of these lived in places called monasteries. His work mainly consisted of working, praying and studying. Because religion was an influential aspect in medieval society, the presence that these members exercised commanded the tasks they performed from the king to the peasants.
In addition, the tasks that the church members carried out had to do with preserving knowledge in the areas of culture and tradition. For this, he had at his disposal old scrolls and books that they studied and interpreted for others. Additionally, their studies allowed them to carry out tasks that affected the health of society, as they prepared medicines and cures .
The third estate
This was the majority group in the population. It was made up of artisans and peasants who did much of the hard work for the population . Their work was rewarded for vigilance on the part of the knights. The privileges they enjoyed were very limited, as they tended daily fields that were not even theirs. What were medieval estates?
On the other hand , they did not have access to a quality education . Also, a large part of the peasants could only read and write, but their academic training did not extend to learning science or art. They were subjected to being permanent dependents of the monasteries or nobles by means of an oath . Furthermore, they were not regarded as men at liberty, and had to pay large amounts of their earnings to members of the nobility. What were medieval estates?