This post is the first of a series I am composing for the release of my new novel set in Medieval England.
Chaucer’s Britain: The Feudal System
Most people’s status in the society depended on their position in the feudal system. The feudal system had three branches: Clergy – those who pray; Nobles – those who rule; and Laborers – those who serve. See the image above for a person in each category.
Each of these branches had its own hierarchy.
The Pope was the head. (For part of this century there were two competing sets of popes, one in Avignon and one in Rome. England, however, favored the pope in Rome, perhaps because of the Hundred Years War with France.) Next in order were: Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots and Abbesses, Priors, Monks and Priests.
The King headed this branch and ruled everyone else. Below the King, lords and ladies with great estates, knights, esquires, and squires had decreasing wealth rank. They held allegiance to the king.
The people who worked for the other classes. The major division was between freemen and bondsmen. Men and women in both categories served the wealthier nobles. Most laborers worked on farms. Freemen could own land or become craftsmen or merchants.
Outside the Feudal System: Outlaws and Entertainers such as traveling musicians, jugglers, fortunetellers etc. owed no allegiance to a noble.