|Elizabethan Social Classes|
The highest level in the social class,
(click this link to learn about the life of Queen Elizabeth) are the Gentlemen. They are people who are of
gentle birth. There are also sublevels of this level.
First is Nobility, which is passed down through the eldest son.
Then there are Knights, a title which is not inherited. It was originally meant to be a military rank, but in Elizabethan times it became a mark of honor. This title must be received from a monarch or military leader.
Then come the Esquires, also known as squires. They had knights in their ancestry.
The Clergy are those who work in the church. It used to be a separate class, then became classified under gentlemen.
The second level in the social classes are Landholding Commoners. They do not actually own the land, the gentlemen do.
The Freeholders are first. Their land is passed down through family, they never can be evicted, and they pay rent to the gentlemen.
Leaseholders live on land with tenancies. These tenancies were usually renewed after they expired, albeit with changes in rent, although they could be completely terminated.
Last were Copyholders. They simply lived on some land paying rent, like leaseholders, but without a lease. The rent could change at any time, and they could be evicted at any time.
Yeomen were equal to leaseholders. They were independent farmers holding about 50 acres of land.
Husbandmen were farmers that produce crops for themselves and their family, and sells a small amount on the market. They may work as hired labor in years of bad harvest.
Townsfolk were the people who lived in towns. Only male landholders could be considered citizens. most citizens were merchants or craftsmen.
Masters owned their own business in a trade or craft and take on apprentices or journeymen.
Journeymen- after seven years, an apprentice might become a journeyman. they were free to sell their services in craft or trade.
Apprentices started their apprenticeship to a master in their teenage years, and learned a trade or craft.
Laborers worked for others with a risk of becoming unemployed.
Cottagers grazed animals on public ground.
Servants were like part of the family they were employed to. Service was often a temporary stage on the road to a better social position.
The very last rung on the social ladder was the Poor and the Unemployed. They could be children, widows, abandoned wives, the elderly, and men coming back from war.
|Rachel Leah Weintrob 8y|