Medieval society classes. Society in the Middle Ages. Medieval class and feudal system. Church, nobility, townsmen and serfs.
The Medieval society in the middle age was made of three orders, the clergy, the nobility and the people. Each society had its own set of responsibilities and privileges. There were clear boundaries between the ones who had to obey and the ones who were governed. However, each of these classes had the right to participate in the government but of course as per a certain degree.
In the feudal system, the king awarded land grants or fiefs to his most important nobles, his barons, and his bishops, in return for their contribution of soldiers for the king’s armies. At the lowest echelon of society were the peasants, also called “serfs” or “villeins.” In exchange for living and working on his land, known as the “demesne,” the lord offered his peasants protection.
The clergy were the first class of the society due to their scared characters. The members of this society were the ones who preached the gospel and they were in charge of god’s worship. Monks, persists, and the friars were the ones who belonged to this class. They were the ones who used to pray all the time.
Nobility was the second class. They were the ones who used to fight. The nobles had held lands from the king. The landholding system was based on an exchange system. The nobles used to provide military service and as homage, the kings used to provide them land. The kings had very complex relations with the nobles. In fact after the position of the king, nobles had second importance.
High nobility usually owned a big lands. members of the lower nobility were often landless. These knights served as a mercenaries of the higher nobles, they were also officers of town guards, some of them ended as a robbers.
Townsmen – merchants, guild members, city leders and city commoners. Medieval cities belonged to king, nobility, church. Some cities were independent (city states in Italy).
Townsmen had some limited rights, depending on the city status and privileges given by its owner.
The third category of the medieval society was the serfs or in other words the peasants. They represented the majority of the medieval population. They used to work for the landlords in exchange on the use of the land. They had personal freedom and they were protected by the nearest of the landlord. These peasants accepted to become serfs. The foremost duty of the serf was to work on the land which is given to them and that’s why they were considered to be the most inferior society of the mediaeval times.
The whole medieval population was not organized on the basis of these 3 classes of the feudal system. There were some men who held lands free of any obligations. Furthermore, there was some part of the population that was excluded from the feudal system. Jews, disables, foreigners, lepers and other subordinate groups were few of them. Despite of the distinction, each class had its own rights and each was allowed to influence the government to some extent.