The Feudal Hierarchy

  • Created by: siariley
  • Created on: 03-05-19 09:43

English society in 1189: The feudal hierarchy 

England’s population in 1189 was around 3.5 million. Wealth and power was not shared out equally among the population. There was a very rigid feudal hierarchy. The ladder on page 13 shows the different groups within society and their place in the feudal hierarchy. The higher up the ladder you were, the more wealth, power and freedom you had. It was very hard to move up the ladder and become wealthier and more powerful. If you were born a peasant it was highly likely that you would spend your whole life as a peasant. Each group had its own price, known as a ‘wergild’ (which translates as ‘man-price’). If you killed a lord (a noble or a knight), you paid his family 1,200 shillings. If you killed a villein, you paid 200. 

The feudal hierarchy 


At the top of medieval society was the king. Richard and John were far more powerful than a modern-day monarch. A medieval monarch was tremendously rich and powerful. He owned huge areas of England and could reward his followers with positions of power. Kings decided how the country would be governed and made all the key decisions. The king’s income per year depended on the taxes he raised, but it averaged around £22,000.


Nobles varied greatly in wealth and the amount of land they held. Nobles would never do any physical work on the land. In 1066, William the Conqueror had won control of England with the help of his nobles and knights from Normandy. The first thing William did was give roughly 50 per cent of the land


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