Adalbero of Leon

Medieval society, as characterized by Adalbero of Laon, can be said to have contained three social orders, "those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed." In theory, and during the period in which it was stated, this could be a reasonable assertion, although reality probably painted a slightly different picture. It seems an oversimplified interpretation of a heavily stratified society, one whose true nature should be separated from this idealistic description.
Around 1000 AD, there seems to begin a shift in the social and economic climate of Western Europe. Increased agricultural production due to technological innovations helped to boost the population to twice that of what it had been prior to the eleventh century. An increased birthrate, stabilizing political climate, and reduction of external raiding, as well as internal and external expansion, were also plausible causes for this boom in population. The significant changes in rural society gave way to several influences on the order known to Adalbero as "those who worked." This order consisted of "an extremely diverse segment of society,'peasants'"(P.317). While in the eyes of the clergy and nobility, this group was seen as inferior, it is clear that without them the other two could not have existed (P.312). In fact, this group consisted of between 90 and 95% of the population throughout the Middle Ages, but is ironically also the group about which the least is documented. The !
people personified as "those who worked "ranged from slaves to free people of some means, although the number of slaves was greatly reduced during the tenth and eleventh centuries (P.317). However, in areas of expansion there was often a steady supply of conquered peoples who could be exploited for labor (P.317).
Legal status of peasants, throughout the Middle Ages, remained in a state of flux, and varied greatly from region to region (P….

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