The great chain of being
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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

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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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