How Social Class Affected Daily Life OP#4

In Medieval England, the social class system played a huge part in the people’s daily lives. The social class that you were a part of dictated just about everything you did on a daily basis. It affected things like the level of education you received or the type of job that you could hold. These sort of limitations made it difficult for poorer people to increase their social standing and resulted in a sort of stagnancy that affected nearly all aspects of their lives. For instance, a peasant was only educated enough for the job that they held, a job that was likely poorly paying. This kept the peasant in poverty and led the peasant to living in a small shack and owning few, inexpensive possessions. In many cases, the extent of this social class even meant that the social class that someone was a part of was distinguishable by the clothing that they wore and the types of meals they consumed.

Many people might be surprised to find out that people in Medieval England paid much attention to fashion trends, even if they were too poor to take part in them. That being said, it is unsurprising that people of royalty were the primary trendsetters of that era. I always assumed that most people wore stereotypical costumes like you might see at a renaissance fair, but this is not the case. So no, most people did not walk around wearing bulky, heavy armor, not just because it was uncomfortable but also because it was rather expensive. People were expected to wear certain articles of clothing based on their social class. Even if poorer people attempted to follow fashion trends, the clothing that they possessed was much less valuable and made of inferior material. In fact, there were laws that laid out clear guidelines for what people of different social classes could wear. In addition to the clothing that people were permitted to wear there was also certain accessories worn or particular styles that were customary of different social classes. For example, kings and other noblemen wore beards because it was considered to be honorable and lesser men did not. Wealthy people also seemed to be materialistic as many of them owned fine jewelry.

When it came to food in Medieval England, the vast majority of people were heavily dependent on crops. Whenever there was a famine or failure of a particular crop then it was the lesser social classes that suffered first. They were the lowest on the pecking order, even if they were responsible for growing the food. If one was to eat a meal at a peasant’s household, then they would find that the things served for the meal was highly limited to what the peasant was able to grow or hunt recently. On the opposite side of the spectrum, noblemen were able to offer the nicest of options of food for their esteemed guests. This might include fancy breads, mutton, goose, duck, and other sought after meats. Most wealthy felt little suffering once a famine had struck.

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