• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Medieval era is so easily generalized into the three orders of those who fight, those who work, and those who pray, or even simply divided into the privileged and unprivileged.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Ann McMillin History 27 Barbara Harris 1 November 2001 The Medieval era is so easily generalized into the three orders of those who fight, those who work, and those who pray, or even simply divided into the privileged and unprivileged. These distinctions are important, for the ability of the church and manor to influence a peasant's actions and to take a peasant's earnings was obviously a central component of a peasant's life. However, when peasants constituted such a sizable majority of the population (over 90 percent), it is also important to recognize the distinctions among them. Some peasants were free and some were serfs. Some peasants were well off and some were barely subsisting. Some peasants held manorial offices and some did not. Some peasant women lost their identity behind a husband and others maintained it by never marrying. In this sense, Judith M. Bennett's portrayal of peasant life in A Medieval Life: Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock, c. 1295-1344 is a nuanced perspective. She not only analyzes the affect of the powerful institutions of church and manor on peasants, but she also recognizes that they were affected differently depending on their position within peasant society. ...read more.

Middle

Along the same lines, Cecilia's other actions or inactions can easily be misinterpreted without knowing her motivations. As stated earlier, peasants are often placed into one huge group because they are so economically and socially different from the clerical and manorial elite. The basis of this social stratification could be that all peasants are subject to the influence of the manorial lords and ladies and church clergy and must abide by their courts, taxes, and other customs. Bennett recognizes the power and influence of the manor and parish over the peasantry. "Well off within her community, Cecilia was just another peasant to the many different sorts of people who sought to profit from her life and labor," she writes (41). Cecilia, like all other peasants, had to pay rents and other taxes and had to complete her obligatory labor for the demesne. She also had to follow the customs and laws established by the manor and enforced by the manorial court, like all peasants. The church also influenced peasants equally in the sense that it influenced their beliefs, which in turn influenced their behavior. Peasants attended the rituals on various holy days throughout the year. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, marriage gave women "social approval and support; greater economic security; full independence from their parents; and the protection of husbands more publicly powerful than they," (125) and in this sense, it was a desirable position. When observing the variations based on economic welfare, social status, and gender in peasant society, it becomes harder to view peasants in one group. Although they were all part of a working class, their lives differed in considerable ways. Prior to reading Bennett's book, I was victim to stereotyping peasant society in medieval England into an uneducated mob, toiling under the hardships of a feudal hierarchy. Bennett's detailed description of the life of Cecilia Penifader and the village of Brigstock show that each peasant had a life of their own, complete with personal successes and failures. She provides more nuance than the traditional medieval historian, who often focuses on the monarch or church. While still emphasizing the significant control that the aristocratic elite and Catholic Church had on the peasantry, Bennett succeeds in describing how peasants could control their own lives through their relationships with kin and community. Cecilia Penifader might not be the average peasant, and Brigstock might not have been the average village, but by recognizing their distinctiveness Judith Bennett has shown me medieval society in an entirely new light. 1 McMillin ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. ‘Gender Identity is not simply a matter of biology’

    They state that hormones are linked to the activity of the brain, which can influence the nervous system, which can in turn influence behaviour, personality and emotions. This has been tested through animal experimentation. Some studies showed a link between testerone levels in human males and aggression.

  2. Comparison between 'Woman Work' and 'Overheard in County Sligo'

    She says 'And to find my face in the glass'. This may suggest she feels lost, and doesn't see the person she wants to be. In the next verse, she goes on to say 'I ought to feel I'm a happy woman'.

  1. Determining the Elite within Politics and the Judiciary.

    In other words, how much power do these particular elites actually possess to promote certain interests and how much are their actions a reflection of forces both internal and external to their institutions? It is the purpose of the following section to address such issues.

  2. How was Martin Luther's Message Misinterpreted, and what was the Significance of the Peasants ...

    Luther's Theology was well received by the peasants because it was interpreted to mean that serfdom was contrary to the freedom of Christians. For example his central belief of Solafide, and the stress he laid on the bible and not on traditional church institutions was gladly interpreted to mean that

  1. Theory and Practice of Work with Young People

    to offer up scouting and its emphasis on: 'Observation and deduction, chivalry, patriotism, self-sacrifice, personal hygiene, saving life, self-reliance, etc' (Jeal, 1995:382) Claiming this would produce a new generation of young people who would fit more closely the ideals sought.

  2. Systems of Sociology Theory based in the French Revolution era when Napoleon was defeated ...

    - Morality of highly specialized societies are reflected in these laws - The stronghold of religion is severely weakened and the concept of conscience collective becomes an abstraction. It is replaced by HUMANISM. * Humanism focuses on individualization but it is not based on selfish self interest but on mutual respect for others since each benefits from the other.

  1. Social Policy work Experience

    So we all generally assumed that other volunteers were doing what they were assigned, but this was not the case and many jobs were never done which created more work for all the other volunteers, which caused hassle, but a hassle that was always easily resolved.

  2. Discussions of race and community relations in all facets of American life are often ...

    There was a clear black aristocracy made up of well-educated, wealthy and professional blacks. Many determined that the closer they were to white culture the more superior, much like the stratification that existed on slave plantations when the slaves who possessed the lighter complexions found themselves working closer to the master and his family.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work