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The Peasant Wedding (1568) - Pieter Brueghel the Elder

The Fourth Estate, Il Quarto Stato (1901) - Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo


A peasant, from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, the countryside or region, (from Latin pagus, country district) is an agricultural worker with roots in the countryside in which he or she dwells, either working for others or, more specifically, owning or renting and working by his or her own labour a small plot of ground, in England a "cottager". Peasants exist in a world before the modern division of labor: a peasant must be a jack-of-all trades, handy at everything. Peasants depend on the cultivation of their land; without stockpiles of provision they thrive or starve according to the most recent harvest. Peasants live to agricultural time; the "world-time", in Fernand Braudel's term, of politics and economics does not directly affect the peasant. Peasants typically make up the majority of the agricultural labour force in a Pre-industrial society. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peasant [Jul 2006]


Serfdom refers to legal and economic status of peasants under feudalism economic system, specifically in the manorialism (also known as seigneurialism) system. A serf is a laborer who is bound to the land, and form the lowest social class of the feudal society. Serfs differ from slaves in that serfs are not property themselves and cannot be sold apart from the land which they work.

Serfdom is the forced labour of serfs, on the fields of the privileged land owners, in return for protection and the right to work on their leased fields. Serfdom involved work not only on fields, but various agricultural-related works, like forestry, transportation (both land and river-based), work in craft and even in manufactures. Serfdom evolved from agricultural slavery of Roman Empire and spread through Europe around 10th century. It was dominant during the Europe's Middle Ages. In England serfdom lasted up to 17th century, in France until 1789, in most other European countries until the early 19th century, and the last European country to abolish serfdom was Russia until 1861. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom [Jun 2005]

Peasant rebellions

In 1534 the Anabaptists took power in the Münster Rebellion and founded a democratic proto-socialistic state. The town was recaptured in 1535; the Anabaptists were tortured to death, their dead bodies were exhibited in cages, which hung from St. Lamberti's steeple. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%FCnster [Mar 2005]

Peasant revolts
Peasant revolts were popular uprisings by European peasants against their lords and the institution of serfdom, including the 1358 Jacquerie in France, the 1381 Peasants' Revolt in England, the 1524-1526 Peasants' War in Germany and the 1573 Croatian and Slovenian peasant revolt. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peasant_revolt [Mar 2005]

Peasant revolts (2)
The [Münster] rebellion came late in the whole series of peasant rebellions which characterized the late medieval world -- indeed the time of its occurrence belongs more to the renaissance than to the middle ages. Earlier rebellions had occurred in Italy (1304-7), Flanders (1323-8), France (1356), England (1381), Northern Spain (1437) and Hungary (1514), and in Bohemia (1419-34). Germany itself had undergone earlier insurrections in 1476; in the 1490s; in 1502; in 1513; in 1514; and in 1517. None of these succeeded; all were suppressed. None was as well organized or widespread as the rebellion of 1525. --http://members.eisa.com/~ec086636/german_peasants_war.htm [Mar 2005]

Peasant war
The Peasants' War (in German, der Deutsche Bauernkrieg) was a popular revolt in Europe, specifically in the Holy Roman Empire between 1524-1526 and consisted, like the preceding Bundschuh movement and the Hussite Wars, of a mass of economic as well as religious revolts by peasants, townsfolk and nobles. The movement possessed no common programme. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peasants%27_War [Mar 2005]

Popular revolts
Popular revolts in late medieval Europe were uprisings and rebellions by peasants in the countryside, or the bourgeois in towns, against nobles and kings during the upheavals of the 14th through early 16th centuries. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_revolt_in_late_medieval_Europe [Mar 2005]

The Peasant revolt in Flanders 1323-1328

The Peasant revolt in Flanders 1323-1328 was a popular revolt in late medieval Europe. Beginning as a series of scattered rural riots in late 1323, peasant insurrection escalated into a full-scale rebellion that dominated public affairs in Flanders for nearly five years until 1328.

The uprising in Flanders was caused by both excessive taxations leveed by Count Louis II of Nevers, and by his pro-French policies. The insurrection had urban leaders and rural factions which took over most of Flanders by 1325. The king of France directly intervened and the uprising was decisively put down at the Battle of Cassel in August of 1328. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peasant_revolt_in_Flanders [Mar 2005]

Third Estate

In France of the ancien régime and the age of the French Revolution, the term Third Estate (tiers état) indicated the generality of people which were not part of the clergy (the First Estate) nor of the nobility (the Second Estate). From these terms came the name of the medieval French national assembly: the Estates-General (Fr. Etats-Généraux), the analogue to the British Parliament but with no constitutional tradition of vested powers, nor with any permanency: the French monarchy remained absolute, and the estates general were convened only episiodically.

The Third Estate comprised all those who were not members of the aristocracy or the clergy, including peasants, working people and the bourgeoisie. In 1789, the Third Estate made up 98% of the population in France. Due in part to a limited franchise, the representatives of the Third Estate actually came from the wealthy upper bourgeoisie; sometimes the term's meaning has been restricted to the middle class, as opposed to the working class. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Estate [Jun 2005]

See also: bourgeosie - class - French revolution - proletariat

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