The Sundering of Society

The Sundering of Society - The Sundering of Society,...

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The Sundering of Society, 1350-1500 The 14th and 15th centuries saw the splitting of most of the classes of medieval society into a powerful elite and a powerless mass. THE ARISTOCRACY There were 5000 feudal warriors in England in 1100, and only 40 peers (lords) in 1500. The mass of the aristocracy were country knights allied with the middle class of the towns. The reasons for this split were numerous: chivalry grew increasingly costly. Largesse became more ostentatious and a more important status symbol; many could not afford it. The fighting aristocracy lost their importance because of gunpowder, infantry formations, and standing armies. Many noble families were wiped out by the 100 years' war and the civil wars that followed. The upper middle class was now buying up land, and there was less wealth in the aristocracy to support a large warrior class. The kings were less dependent upon the aristocracy for military or bureaucratic services. The economic recession in many regions impoverished the local aristocracy. The aristocracy split into the great magnates and the local squires. The magnates abandoned the practice of enfeoffing vassals in favor of paying salaried servants. The Results Three classes of aristocrats emerged: The rich and powerful The land-hungry and grasping The small farmers and servants with little wealth or power. There was also an over-elaboration of chivalry into costly fantasies (playing
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The Sundering of Society - The Sundering of Society,...

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