The Medieval Era Essay example

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The Medieval Era

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
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Through recording land sales and inheritances, the courts rolls explain the economic status of certain peasants, and through recording contracts and crimes committed, they can describe relationships between peasants. For example, Bennett writes, "Cecilia illegally took hay off the land of Richard Everard; she let her animals trespass onto the property of others; she argued with Alice Baker," (103). Again, the records are factual but anything that goes beyond the written word is an inference subject to interpretation and generalization. Bennett also uses poems and songs throughout the text. "Clues about how privileged people regarded peasants can be found in their courtly songs, sarcastic proverbs, nasty jokes, and pious sermons," writes Bennett (3). However, these only tell about the generalized negative opinions of elites regarding peasants. Personal diaries and letters are missing from the book because almost all peasants were illiterate. Therefore, sources used are for the most part objective and lack emotion. This takes away from the reader's ability to connect with Cecilia as a person. The reader knows that Cecilia was allowed many more rights since she never married, but they do not know if she enjoyed her individuality or
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