HOW STABLE WAS THE SOCIAL ORDER IN EARLY MODERN BRITAIN?
Early Modern Ages comprise the period between 1500-1700 a.C. This period was preceded by Late Middle Ages and followed by Late Modern Ages. In order to understand the social order in this period it is important to know some aspects of how was the world. European context was really important in order to understand Britaincontext. The name Early Modern Britain, was attributed to this period because of there were signs of rejected the feudalism system and developed a new economy. Throughout this period, Europe was involved in some important changes like the rising of strong centralized governments. This fact constitutes the antecedent of the notion of state like we know today. Another important event in this period wasthe importance of Europe in the world. Europe’s states began to colonize many lands around the world. This time was called Renaissance too because of the cultural and artist development in these years. Because of this development, the early years of Modern ages (1500-1600) was called “Age of Discovery”. Moving on the Britain own history of these years, it can be observed that was an era of changesand movements. This period took the name English Civil war between Parliamentarians and Royalists took place between 1641 and 1651 divided into three wars. Following the Civil War arrived The English Restoration which began in 1660. There are some dates important in this period:
• 1536: Union between England and Wales.
• 1603: Union of English and Scottish Crowns
•1707: Union of English and Scottish Parliaments
• 1801: Act of union with Ireland
• 1485-1603: Tudor Age (Elizabeth’s reign 1558-1603)
• 1603-1714: Stuart Age.
The aim of this research is focused on the stability of social order so, firstly the notion of social order should be explained. In “Encyclopedia Britannica”, Social Order is defined as: in sociology, thedistinctive, stable arrangement of institutions whereby human beings in a society interact and live together. Social structure is often treated together with the concept of social change, which deals with the forces that change the social structure and the organization of society. According to this definition we can analyze the social order of the period which is focused this research: Early ModernBritain.
There are some interesting aspects to discuss about social order. First of all is the Hierarchy of Status. The main difference was the division between Gentlemen and non-Gentlemen. According to Sir Thomas Smith, social order in Early Modern England was divided into 4 sorts of people. In the highest, Nobilitas Major were. They were the Gentlemen which comprised dukes, marquises, earls,viscounts and barons. Following them, the next social class was Nobilitas minor which comprised knights, esquires and plain gentlemen. In the middle of the society and not because of it less important, Citizens and Burgesses were. They help the kingdom to make the laws. At least, the final group who integrate the division were Rascals. They are illustrated like day labourers, poore husbandmen, yeamerchants or retailers.
Yeomen, an important group of people were inside this group. As William Harrison describes them, they conform “a sort of people who have a certain pre-eminence and more estimation than laborers and the common sort of artificers…”
Another important point to describe in the society was the role of woman. The family was the base of the society, the reflex for all statemodels. Family had an important role in this environment, not only in the family but also in the society in general terms. The person who assumes the responsibility of the whole family was the husbands or householder. Wife was yielded to husband. This tradition derivate from Middle Age, a period in which the only person who was considered important was man. Women only had in mind a good marriage,...
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