Labour and Lordship

Julia M. H. Smith

in Europe after Rome

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780192892638
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670626 | DOI:
Labour and Lordship

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter argues that regional diversity and change over time were the hallmarks of all early medieval social hierarchies. It begins by exploring slavery and serfdom and the implications of freedom. The first section argues that, although the distinction between free and unfree was of fundamental legal importance, social realities were far more complex. The central section of this chapter focuses on social inequalities organized around the control of land. In looking at the many different forms of lordship that touched peasants' lives it looks at the changing local situation and the political context. The final section moves to the upper social echelons, to ask how high status was perceived, maintained, or contested, and how lordship also expressed political relationships.

Keywords: Middle Ages; social hierarchy; slavery; serfdom; freedom; social inequality; social status

Chapter.  13637 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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