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The 20th Century Class System in England
Transcript of The 20th Century Class System in England
Class system in 1914 Britain
At home, British life was strictly stratified into a class system. The upper and middle class people were brought up to believe the lower classes were dirty and inferior, although they were prepared to employ them as servants. There were over two million servants in Britain at the turn of the century (80% of the population).
Different Classes: 1
Cottagers and labourers : Cottagers were a step below husbandmen, in that they had to work for others for wages. Lowest order of the working castes; perhaps vagabonds, drifters, criminals or other outcasts would be lower.
Different Classes: 2
Husbandman (or other tradesmen) : A
tradesman or farmer who either rented a
home or owned very little land was a
husbandman. In ancient feudal times, this
person likely would have been a serf, and
paid a large portion of his work or produce
to the land-holding lord.
Different Classes: 3
Yeoman : The yeoman class generally included small farmers who held a reasonable amount of land and were able to protect themselves from neighbouring lords et cetera. They played a military role as longbowmen. Sometimes merchant citizens are placed between yeoman and gentry in early modern social hierarchy.
Different Classes: 4
Gentry/gentleman : The gentry by definition held enough assets to live on rents without working, and so could be well educated. If they worked it was in law, as priests, in politics, or in other educated pursuits without manual labour. The term Esquire was used for landowners who were not knighted. Many gentry families were armigerous and of ancient lineage possessing great wealth and large estates.
Different Class: 5
Knight: The definition of a knight depends upon the century in which the term was applied. In very early medieval times a knight was a common soldier; later as cavalry became more important the knight's role became more associated with wealth. By the seventeenth century a knight was a senior member of the gentry, and the military role would be one of sheriff of a county, or organising a larger body of military forces, or in civil service exercising judicial authority.
Different Classes: 6 & 7
Baronet(hereditary, non peer): A baronet held a hereditary style of knighthood, giving the highest rank below a peerage.
Peer(Noble/Archbishop) : The peers were generally large land holders, living solely off assets, sat in the House of Lords and either held court or played a role in court depending upon the time frame referenced.
Royal: A member of the royal family, a prince, a close relative of the queen or king.
Erosion of British Class System in 20th Century
During the twentieth century, there was a great deal of change in Britain that caused the erosion of the class system. The two World Wars, WWI and WWII, had a huge impact on the British society.
This shows how WWI and WWI had an affect on the society as well as the class system. During those times the lower classes were forced to go to war while the upper class had a choice.
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