Greater Medieval Social Mobility?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by GlobalHumanism, Jun 12, 2019 at 3:46 PM.

  1. GlobalHumanism Well-known and unliked member

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    [​IMG]

    Was there anyway for the some of the static social classes in the early to middle stages of Medieval Europe have greater fluidity, without OTL's growth of the merchant/burgher class?

    Some ideas, could possibly be greater rates of inter-marriage between ennobled and peasant classes? Maybe marriage for certain lower ranked groups within the Church? Maybe more Noble Republics instead of absolutist monarchies?
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019 at 9:35 PM
  2. Kaze Well-Known Member

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    The easy way is to have more buying of titles of nobility. In theory, if you gave the king enough gold - he could and would make you a baron.
     
  3. GlobalHumanism Well-known and unliked member

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    So like a rich peasant could buy his/her family's way out of poverty?
     
  4. Commedia Well-Known Member

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    Two problems:
    1. without mercantile interests and a larger merchant class and thereby more trade, the accumulation of enough money to buy a title is extremely unlikely. before the trading boom really got off, the main source of accumulated wealth in Europe was the Taxing and Tithing of large agricultural interests. and in many places is was impossible for peasants to own land. or tp keep land they owned, in the face of the heavily armored warmongers of the middle ages.

    2. The medieval period is defined by its lack of social mobility. Once you have social mobility it stops being medieval. it could be said the realities of social mobility broke the status quo of the Medieval age.

    I just don't think the premise is possible.
     
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  5. Thoresby Well-Known Member

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    That's an incredibly inaccurate statement the mediaeval period had significantly more social mobility than is recognised, probably higher than the early modern period.
    First of all the Black Death unleashed a massive wave of social mobility with only the industrial revolution comparable in scale. The resulting labour shortage didn't merely increase general wages it also saw the social structure transformed as successful entrepreneurs took advantage of the economic and social dislocation caused by the plague.
    But outside that you also saw a both a succession of one-off social mobility events like the Norman conquest which transformed poor landless Norman men-at-arms into English gentry and aristocrats, the conquests of Wales and Ireland and the French Wars also triggered significant social mobility in England with other similar conflicts creating similar social mobility elsewhere.
    Outside that you did see a steady churn of social mobility, generally trade led in the town's and wool led in the country.
    Look at a family like the de la Pole's who in a century went from country merchants to incredibly wealthy financiers, to Duke's, to claimants for the Crown.
     
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  6. piratedude Pirate Lord of the Great Lakes

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    More little republics, as well as a more expansive/inclusive system of guilds might accomplish this
     
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  7. kholieken Well-Known Member

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    Early Medieval Period (700-1000) had very high social mobility. Primarily because land is readily available. Its only after population growth, available land is all taken, forest disappearing, migration period ended, plague (justinian and others) no longer deadly, barbarian movement stopped that social system become rigid. So you need to reduce population growth,(perhaps cheaply available natural contraceptive) or increase death rate (various late antiquity plague become influenza-like with high rate of mutation) or reduce farming effectiveness (so Viking, Magyars and other people can compete with settled feudal civilization).
     
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  8. Gloss Well-Known Member

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    What? You say the period when cities grew in size and many cities were founded and given autonomy, when serfdom was slowly but surely weakening in Western Europe, is somehow the period when social mobility was less? I think that's completely false, I'm not even saying the malthusian concept behind it is flawed but against what we can empirical see it's not a good model to explain social mobility.
     
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  9. Gloss Well-Known Member

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    Guilds kinda stifle competitions at times.
    I wouldn't say it's higher than in the early modern period. That's over the top.
    I don't think the black death was nearly as revolutionary as people point out and if it was it would go against your own idea that the middle ages had more social mobility.
     
  10. piratedude Pirate Lord of the Great Lakes

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    So? OP wants to avoid growing the merchant/burger class, and the safety net that a guild provides helps upward mobility by keeping strugling members/their families from destitution.
     
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  11. Gloss Well-Known Member

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    Having guilds is good but they shouldn't be dominant over some amount of free trade and competition, otherwise you create a caste.
     
  12. Thoresby Well-Known Member

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    Several of the paths for social mobility shut in the early modern period. As the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation transformed the Church it became a lot less corrupt and thus less of an avenue for whole families to rise based on one successful churchmen. Ditto the transformation of warfare, at least in England the financial rewards of military prowess declined with the end of the Hundred Years War and you stopped seeing people go in one lifetime go from the longbowman son of a tenant farmer to gentry on the pay and loot of the war.
     
  13. Gloss Well-Known Member

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    Such single cases are easily trumped by the rise and expansion of the middle class and the more fewer restrictions on peasantry.
     
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  14. Byzantion Well-Known Member

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    Maybe erosion of Feudalism and an earlier merchenary class attracting serfs to join
     
  15. GlobalHumanism Well-known and unliked member

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    Merchenary or Mercenary?
    If it's the latter, that idea has me intrigued, though didn't mercenary bands of OTL allow unlanded folks to join pretty easily?
     
  16. Hawkeye Source?

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    I disagree. The word medieval means "relating to the middle ages" which itself just means the period of history between the fall of the western Roman empire and the renaissance.

    What you are describing more closely pertains to feudalism. Of which the Byzantine empire was not because they had a bureaucracy and I'd hard pressed not to describe it as medieval.