Essay Sample on Social Status in Medieval Times: The Three Estates

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  911 Words
Date:  2023-02-27


During the Middle Ages, social status - what it was referred to as estates, was a very common practice of categorizing people, mainly based on what a man did for a living, according to the estates they belonged to (Shwartz, 2009). The main three estates, according to the Feudal society where the "First Estate" was the Church, and the clergy were those who prayed. The "second Estate" were the nobles and the knights. This estate included people in the executive and judiciary, and they were involved in the politics of the society. The "Third Estate" was the Peasantry, and this estate incorporated the rest of the feudal society. Those that grew food paid taxes, and supported those who fought for them, led them, and took care of their spiritual needs (Shwartz, 2009).

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The General prologue is narration that describes the returning of the spring and the journey to Canterbury. Narrated by Chaucer, he describes the April period when people desired to go on a pilgrimage. While many were devoted to the English pilgrims to visit the far holy lands, the majority preferred to travel to Canterbury to visit the relics of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. The narrator prepared to go Canterbury like many, and on his stay at Tabard inn, a tavern in Southwark, a company of twenty-nine travelers joined. He was delighted to join them, and they woke up early the following day to set for their journey. Before he continues with the tale of his journey, he declared to describe each of the members of the group. This essay aims to analyze the members of the clergy estate in G.c's "The General Prologue" as well as clarify the specific values of the clergy estate.

From line 43 of the prologue, the narrate being described some of the clergymen and women who are traveling to the Canterbury pilgrim. The first one was a Knight. A knight was a very worthy person during the federalism period. Not only was his worthiness set on the battlefield, but he also played a very critical role in protecting his fellow country citizens against any attacks both within and without the community. Knights were often viewed as heroes of the society and from time to time, they shared table with the most honorable in the society. Their dressing distinguished them from the rest. Their horses were good, wore a tunic of coarse cloth. They were strong, brave, and very tactical (Chaucer, 2008).


According to the narrator, the Monks, unlike other clergies would undertake other business outside the monastery and were qualified as abbot. They were skilled in many areas but, most importantly,, were committed to remaining obedient to the rules of Saint Maurus and Saint Benedict. The often followed modern custom of things and dedicated most of their time to reading and writing. They also came to be known as the Benedictines for their strong commitment to follow the Benedict rule and took vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience to their leaders. Although monks did not directly contribute to the spiritual needs of the peasants, they, however, played a significant role in the writing and translations of the bible and other spiritual materials. Their extensive knowledge of philosophy and theology helps helped in unfolding spiritual mysteries and events.


A friar was more or less similar to a monk but was most identified with any of the four mendicant orders (Dominicans, Carmelites, Augustinians, and Franciscans). The FRIAR, as the narrator describes, they were pleasure-loving and merry. However, they were limited to the assigned territory and were much elegant and sociable. He helped marry many, but he higher than a parish priest did. He held confessions, gave the poor. He acted as a mediator to settle disputes, helped people with their spiritual needs, and preceded over masses for his followers. He wore expensive garments, and his earnings came for the tithes, gifts, and presents contributed by the parish members within his territory.


Although Nuns were not so much considered when it came to spiritual matters, because of their gender, they were very helpful in helping the priest prepare for masses and generally take care of him as well. Nuns were compassionate, disciplined and very courteous women who dedicate their life's to serve. They were considered pure and did not engage in any intimate relationship with a man or woman, for if they did, they were considered unclean; and thus not worthy of serving as clergies. They often participated in humanitarian activities.


As described by the narrator, priests were the closest religious persons to the peasants. Most often, the priests came from the peasants. Though they were not rich in material possession, priests were very rich in holy thoughts and work. They were learned and devoted themselves to preaching Chris's gospel to his parishioners. Although they did not pay tithes or the taxes, they were reluctant to excommunicate or banishing for nonpayment of tithes. Unfortunately, these actions landed them in trouble with the Bishops and Friar, who were above him in the hierarchy. He took care of the spiritual needs for his parishioners, visited the sleek, widowed, and orphans and prayed for them.


Chaucer, G. (2008, April 8). The General Prologue: the Book of the Tales of Canterbury. Retrieved from The Geoffrey Chaucer Page:

Schwartz, D. D. (2009). The Three Estates. Retrieved from English Department, California Polytechnic State University:

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Essay Sample on Social Status in Medieval Times: The Three Estates. (2023, Feb 27). Retrieved from

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