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The Great Chain of Being. GOD Angels*. Man King. Aristocrats. Aristocrats. Greater Aristocrats. Dukes Marquess /Margraves Counts/Earls Viscounts Baron/Lords. Lesser Aristocrats. Knights and Gentry Seigneurs Hidalgos Szlacha. Peasants.

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the great chain of being
The Great Chain of Being

GOD

Angels*

Man King

Aristocrats

Aristocrats

Greater Aristocrats

Dukes

Marquess/Margraves

Counts/Earls

Viscounts

Baron/Lords

Lesser Aristocrats

Knights and Gentry

Seigneurs

Hidalgos

Szlacha

Peasants

Substantial Farmers

Small Farmers

Cottagers

Laborers

The Poor

The family also had its ranks:

Father

Mother

Male Children (in birth order)

Female Children (in birth order)

Animals*

Plants*

Stones*

* All of these could also be divided in to ranks

key features of the great chain of being
Key Features of the Great Chain of Being
  • Those at the top of the hierarchy were closer to God
  • Humankind is ½ way down the chain
  • Other than God, all ranks could be subdivided
  • The top of each hierarchy is analogous to the head of the whole chain – God
  • The chain is a chain, not a ladder.
    • Order is Central!!
why did people not rebel
Why did people not rebel?
  • Education/indoctrination
  • Lack of facility
  • The principle of deference (paternalism)
the great chain was an ideal
The Great Chain was an ideal
  • Reality was sometimes messy and contrary to the Great Chain world view
    • Noble families rose and fell
    • New nobles were created
    • Peasants
    • Cities
    • The Church
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