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Medieval Clerks. Elena Aguilar AP Literature Period 3. Social classes in Medieval England. Classes were divided into four major categories: -The King and Royal Court -Nobility -Commons: Guilds, Merchants and Cottage Industries, City Leaders and Professionals and Peasants -The Church:

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medieval clerks
Medieval Clerks

Elena Aguilar

AP Literature

Period 3

social classes in medieval england
Social classes in Medieval England
  • Classes were divided into four major categories:

-The King and Royal Court



  • Guilds, Merchants and Cottage Industries, City Leaders and Professionals and Peasants

-The Church:

  • Bishops, Monks and Nuns, Clerks, Friars, Canons, and Parsons
description of medieval clerk
description of medieval clerk
  • Grew in power as new educated elite
  • Exclusively male
  • Often anti-feminist
  • Stereotypically know to be young and clever
yet in medieval terms clerk means scholar
Yet In Medieval terms, clerk means “scholar”

The word clerk comes from Latin clericusmeaning “cleric” or “clergyman” and derived from Greek klericosmeaning “of the clergy”

a clerk s duties
A Clerk’s duties
  • According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1971): to be a clerk had various meanings
  • Therefore, clerks could have various positions in society, such as:

-A churchman, clergyman or ecclesiastic (c. 1050)

-A member of the five "minor orders" as distinct from higher or "holy orders" (975)

-One of book learning, one able to read and write (c. 1300)

-The office of writer, scribe, secretary, keeper of accounts (1085)

a clerk s duties cont
A clerk’s duties cont.
  • Provided spiritual care
  • Conducted religious services:

-held Mass or prayer for the town Church or castles

  • Responsible for the collection of Church taxes
  • Responsible for the village and castle record keeping
  • Focused on the spreading of alms among the poor
a clerk s social standing
A clerk’s social standing
  • Since Clerk’s everyday focus in life went to the needs of the Church and village, they spent most of their money on educational purposes making them poor students, yet respected leaders.Being associated with the Church meant they were highly represented in society since they were often very well-educated.
chaucer s canterbury tales the prologue
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: the prologue

The Clerk

  • The Oxford Clerk is described as a young student who “had taken logic long ago(296)”
  • The text reveals the clerk to be a philosophical character who ignores the vanities of the world to only focus on learning.
  • He is described as a humble, gentle person with a huge admiration for books and study which lead him to “a tone of moral virtue(317)” in his speech.
works cited
Works cited
  • Steinberg, Glenn A. Prof. “Social Class in Medieval England” Course Syllabi Jan 2013)
  • University of California, Davis “What does the title Clerk mean?”

(29 Jan 2013)

  • “Clerk” The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia (29 Jan 2013)
  • Andrud,Jordan“The Clerk Part 1” CanterburytalesAndrud (29 Jan 2013)