Ohio 7th Grade World History/Wealth and Social Class
Wealth and social class were very important in the middle ages. Everyone had a different part to play in the feudal system to help out in their manor. There were two social pyramids: the Catholic Church pyramid and the social pyramid. The Catholic Church pyramid consisted of the pope at the top, then the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and the common clergy (nuns, priests, and monks). Even though the peasants didn’t own land they were extremely important. Without the peasants the whole social system would fall. Did you know that 90 percent of the people during the Middle Ages were peasants? The king and queen were of course at the top. The nobles were the vassals of the kings and queens. Most of them were also a lord or a lower ranking knight. The knights served their nobles or lords in exchange for their land. As mentioned before the peasants were not part of the feudal system because they didn’t own land. Most of the peasants worked on land like a slave, owned by nobles or knights. This feudal system spread all the way from Eastern Europe to France, Spain, Italy, and Germany. It was a ‘divine right' to become a king or queen. The right to rule granted by God and passed on through the family. The pope was at the coronation of the kings and queens. This gave the pope the right to make or break the king or queen. The 1/10 rule applied to everyone. All of the things people gave were given to the Church. Soon the church became extremely rich. Several events lead to the collapse of Feudalism. The Magna Carta took power away from the Monarchs of Europe and the Black Death decimated the population of Europe; leaving a void in the work force and leading to the growth of cities. As cities grew people began trading, learning and gaining wealth. The middle class, a new social class, worked for wages and began to specialize in specific jobs. As secular rulers lost power, the power gained by the Catholic Church also began to fade. The end of the feudal system proved that it only existed to serve the few and not the many.