Although definitions of social class in the United Kingdom vary and are highly controversial, most are influenced by factors of wealth, occupation and social structure of rural society pdf. The British monarch is usually viewed as being at the top of the social class structure. Research has shown that social status in the United Kingdom is influenced by, although separate from, social class. Prior to the eighteenth century, one did not speak of class or classes.
Older terms like estates, rank, and orders were predominant. This change in terminology corresponded to a general decrease in significance ascribed to hereditary characteristics, and increase in the significance of wealth and income as indicators of position in the social hierarchy. Besides these academic models, there are myriad popular explanations of class in Britain. 20th century, and the British nobility, in so far as it existed as a distinct social class, integrated itself with those with new wealth derived from commercial and industrial sources more comfortably than in most of Europe. However their wealth, if not their political power, has rebounded strongly since the 1980s, benefiting from greatly increased values of the land and fine art which many owned in quantity. Meanwhile, the complex British middle-classes had also been enjoying a long period of growth and increasing prosperity, and achieving political power at the national level to a degree unusual in Europe. They avoided the strict stratification of many Continental middle-classes, and formed a large and amorphous group closely connected at their edges with both the gentry and aristocracy and the labouring classes.
France were remarked on as poorer than their English equivalents. At the time of the formation of Great Britain in 1707, England and Scotland had similar class-based social structures. Some basic categories covering most of the British population around 1500 to 1700 are as follows. Cottagers were a step below husbandmen, in that they had to work for others for wages. Most young women of middle and lower ranks became servants to neighboring families for a few years before marriage. Servants in husbandry were unmarried men hired on annual contracts as farm workers.
A tradesman or farmer who either rented a home or owned very little land was a husbandman. In 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. 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 before 1500. The village shopkeeper was placed between yeoman and gentry in the modern social hierarchy. Clergy were mostly located in rural areas, where they were under the direction of the gentry.
A bishop had the status of nobility, and sat in the House of Lords, but his son did not inherit the title. The gentry by definition held enough assets to live on land 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. They typically possess estates worked by tenants and laborers. It was prestigious to purchase a military or naval commission for a likely son.