Mini Blog Part 2.5: Middle Ages and Nobility


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This mini blog entry was taken from my writing vault. The original piece was written in 2017, and has been edited for publication at themodernistson.com.

During the middle-ages those born into nobility often spent time fulfilling the aforementioned role. According to Chris Given-Wilson’s book The English Nobility in the Late Middle Ages:

Almost from birth the child who was born into the nobility was prepared for his eventual fulfillment of the noble’s traditional role. (2)

Through further examination, when children of nobility were born the idea was placed in their head that they were likely to meet (their) fate in battle. Furthermore, a person of nobility was unable to control the fact they were born into a family with high expectations. Keeping that in mind, the issue being pressed here is the difference between noble families and other medieval citizens of the time. For instance, society’s elite did not have a choice as to whether they were to serve their nation in warfare or not because it was their duty as part of the nobility.

The nobles held such a high position in society, such that these (men) were trained to fight and

protect as soon as they started walking and other motor skills had already developed. With that being said, the position of nobles in society came with significant responsibility. Being born into a noble family placed people in a higher position, and the willingness to accept the fulfillment that were taught at a young age further demonstrated the effort to maintain this higher status in society. Moreover, it was quite common for nobles to willingly assume the role that was expected of them. In respect to the issue of maintaining the status of nobility, a major factor which corresponded with this societal status was pride.

Those who were born into noble families did not encounter issues challenging their character, as well as their sense of being. Consequently, the duties which were expected of noble men were often matched with resiliency and integrity. During the middle-ages, pride and nobility played a major factor in most course of action. Those of whom were born into positons of power, often contemplated whether to accept their duties or not because had failure occurred they would face severe humiliation.

Despite being born into nobility and not having much of a choice regarding fate, men also had to

prove and justify their abilities to continue the elitist path. Given- Wilson writes:

While a man might be born into noble society, he must continue to justify his place within by leading a lifestyle worthy of his station. Yet the nobility was not just a fighting class, it was also a ruling class. (2)

Nobility gave men incentive to be placed in these roles. However, nobles could not just

fail to do things properly and act as if their status was a joke while expecting to remain within the aforementioned component of society. Much like previously stated, this idea of nobility was something to be preserved and required much training to achieve; such as physical training as well as an educational system which differed from the traditional system of education in England at the time. Given- Wilson writes:

The educational forum of the noble child was the household… much more than an

educational institution.(3)

Noble children were offered an educational system that differed from other children who did not come from nobility. For the noble children, they attended university-level schools which focused on subjects such as grammar, and others which were taught in the traditional educational setting. However, the education system offered to the noble children was separate from their other forms of training. Furthermore, this made the format of learning different from what was offered to kids who did not come from nobility. Essentially, these children had to be smart and take their status seriously. This concept of seriousness must have continued into adulthood whereby nobility was maintained, such that seriousness and maturity was required for the duration of a noble’s life. Evaluating the middle-ages and pride that was required for social hierarchy, this was not something that could have been taken less than seriously. To maintain social hierarchy, one must fit the role of a noble by making intelligent decisions, being well-educated, and prevailing in combat training. Being of noble birth did not necessarily mean that one’s status could not be changed. By a way of ensuring nobility is maintained, skills must have been justified through words and course of action.

Further Reading:

Given-Wilson, Chris. The English Nobility in the Late Middle Ages: Fourteenth-century

Political Community. 2,3. Psychology Press, 1996.

© The Modernist Son, 2020

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