There were three general roles in society, called the Three Estates.

The three estates and their potential vices

THREE ESTATES Knights, Clerks (clergy), Serfs

Great chain of being King-knight-serf Pope-cardinal-priest-laity. God-angel-man-woman-animal. Reason-passion. Are further away from God because of greater imperfection. Origins in classic philosophy, really took off in middle ages. Macrocosm-mesocosm-microcosm must be aligned. Priests > Knights. Pope > King.

"Political authority, to use the language of the magisterium, although indeed ordained by God as are all things, is merely of the relatively natural order. It administers a fallen world. Were there no Original Sin, there would be no reason for political force. . . . The knight wields the sword and kills (ad mortificandum), whereas the priest saves and gives life (ad vivificandum)" (Aho 82-83). Yet knights came to be seen as having an almost priestly calling.

Potential Vices

1. Clerk (Cleric): Ministers with God's word unto salvation.

2. Knights: Ministers with the sword.  Can kill, but cannot make alive.  Inferior to priests. 3. Peasants: tend fields Knights were given land for allegiance.  The service and the land were passed down to his sons.

 
 

"The Great Chain of Being"

Hierarchy that was unilinear (one chain without branches). Place on chain determined by your distance from God. Not reallyunilinear because too difficult to decide which things to place higher.

Cast system was based on this. Clergy (Pope); Knights (King &those who protect Clergy); Peasants.

If you leave your place, you disrupt the chain (rebellion).

 

Person who allows passion to control his reason gets knocked down the chain.If you usurp anotherís spot, get knocked down.
Great Chain of Being
Macrocosm
(Supernatural)
Mesocosm
(Earthly) 
(3 estates in red)
Microcosm
(Individual)
God
|
Angels
|
People
|
Animals
lion
dog
|
Plants
|
Inanimate Objects 
Gold 
Dirt 
"Clerks" (Clerics) 

Pope 

Archbishops 

Bishops 

Priests 

Laity (non-clergy) 

"Knights" (State) 

King 

Dukes 

Earls, etc. 

Knights 

Serfs (peasants

Family 

Husband 

Wife 

Son 

Servants 

 
Spirit (reason)
|
Passion