English Society in Henry VII's Reign

English Society In Henry VII's reign

The Structure of Society

  • Tudor society was hierarchical and based on a class system
  • The base of the social pyramid was occupied by the vast majority of the population- the commoners
  • The commoners consisted of servants, labouring poor and those without work
  • According to the Church, each class had a duty to serve those above them
  • By the same token the higher class were obliged to look after the interests of those below them.
  • This theory of obligation, known as the 'Great Chain of Being' was the natural order of society

The Nobility

  • The nobility (the peerage) consisted of Dukes, Viscounts and Earls
  • Comprised of no more than 50-60 men
  • The Crown often relied on these families for the maintenance of order in the countryside 
  • Henry VII was reluctant to create new peerage titles because he was deeply distrustful of the nobility as a class
  • Henry's most important method of controlling the nobilty was through bonds and recognizances.
  • A bond was a written agreement where people would promise to pay a sum of money if they failed to carry out their initial promise
  • A recognizance is a formal acknowledgement of a debt or obligation that already existed, with the understanding to pay money if this obligation was not met
  • The key to nobles power was the system called '******* feudalism' (or…

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