Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Revisiting "Developing Class"

William the Conqueror
Photo Credit: Uncyclomeida Commons

We left off with a discussion about William the Conqueror and the theorized spread of feudalism throughout England as a result of the Norman Invasion of 1066. There is debate about whether he arrived to find it already in place, or whether he and his men brought it there with them. It is clear that since the Roman Invasion in 43AD, English soil saw plenty of feuding.

Left unprotected in 414 AD by the Roman Empire, there were a series of raids first by the Saxons, then by the Vikings, and finally by the Normans. King William of Normandy effectively re-established the powerful British monarchy, which was first put in place by the Saxons. Crowned King of England in 1066, this monumental historical event initiated the slow crawl toward the Empiric rising of Great Britain and the free trade capitalist system in place today.

Henry VIII
Photo Credit: Cracked

During the Protestant Reformation, Henry VIII’s establishment of the Anglican Church marked another milestone in the establishment of a centralized English government. This move did not completely abolish feudalism, but it did open the doors for a transition from a feudal economy to a mercantile economy; thus weakening the power of the lords and vassals. It also established and elevated the third class, the ruling class of Royalty. Furthermore, this division along religious lines set off a series of wars throughout Western Europe inspired by religion and driven by the ambitions of powerful monarchs throughout FranceEngland, and Spain.

The Sovereigns of these emerging nations began to set up what we have come to understand as the feudal system, with a Monarch owning the land and military, and the lords and knights serving as vassals of the king. This feudal system climaxed during George III’s reign and descended quickly out of power with the advances of George IV and the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, at which time advancements in science and the development of new trade options forced a transition toward mercantilism and eventually free trade.

High Society

During this time, a new notion of superiority gained a foothold in Europe. Adopted from the ideals of the ancient Greeks and Romans, Europeans across the continent began to look down their noses at the “uneducated, undisciplined heathens” that populated the rural areas and non-European countries. I believe that this superior attitude, even more than the feudal system, served as the driving force behind the social class system in England.

In reality, it was likely the powerful combination of the two that entrenched the class system so deeply into the fabric of English society. I believe that the sense of duty and honor ingrained through the feudal system disposed the peasants and nobility to accept the deference demanded by the classes above them. Once this honor system was combined with the notion of lesser-than and greater-than groups of people, the fate of the lower classes remaining completely separate from the upper classes was sealed.

American Superiority
Photo Credit: Zazzle

Though there is vast evidence that our American forefathers left behind, in staunch revolt, the honor and power system of our home country, I believe the root of this attitude of superiority followed them to the New World. There is proof in our nation’s capital that our founding fathers exalted the intellectualism of Greek and Roman ideals, perhaps even more than our English ancestors. Recently, I read a book called The Lost Symbol, which points out that the blueprints for the physical and ideologic structure of our nation’s capital were patterned after the great Greek and Roman societies.

I do believe I see the body of our crown coming together quite nicely after these discussions. In future posts, we will delve into an overview of the rules and regulations of the class system, and we will take an in-depth look at the expectations and customs of the Royals as we begin to mine for the ore that will reveal the gems we will set in our crown.

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