- The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History, 1350–1750
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- List of Maps
- List of Illustrations
- List of Contributors
- Introduction: ‘Early Modern’ Europe and the Idea of Early Modernity
- The Cartographic Emergence of Europe?
- Weather, Climate, and the Environment
- Disease and Medicine
- Historical Demography
- Travel and Communications
- Languages and Literacy
- Printing and Printedness
- A Revolution in Information?
- Economic and Social Trends
- The Social Order
- Households and Family Systems
- Social Roles and Individual Identities
- Consumption and Material Life
- The Agrarian West
- The Agrarian East
- Country and Town in Mediterranean Europe
- Towns and Urbanization
- The Christian Church, 1370<i>–</i>1550
- Protestantism and its Adherents
- Early Modern Catholicism
- The World of Eastern Orthodoxy
- The Transformations of Judaism
- Islam and Muslims in Europe
- Cultures of Peoples
- Belief and its Limits
- Index of Names and Places
- Index of Subjects
Abstract and Keywords
Early modern conceptions of social order developed from a rich tradition of classical philosophy and medieval Christian thinking. This chapter begins with an overview of the core concepts of social order. Particularly prominent was the model of a tripartite society, divided into three orders or estates—the nobility, the clergy, and the ‘third estate’. Early modern society was by no means static, however. Even though there were clear borders between these three estates, social mobility within and between them was considerable. It was in Western Europe where the concept of a society of orders eroded first and new social classifications such as the middle classes or the bourgeoisie emerged towards the end of the eighteenth century. By then for many people the religious justification of social hierarchies had lost its plausibility and power, giving way to new ideas about social equality based on individual natural rights.
Andreas Gestrich, German Historical Institute
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.