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.
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.
Vices: Getting rich, fat, or having sex.
3. Peasants: tend fields
Knights were given land for allegiance. The service and the land
were passed down to his sons.
Vices: Cowardice or abuse of peasants
"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
(3 estates in red)