what were the levels of society?
- the elite (learned/noble)
- the middle class
- the common class (upper/lower)
- nobles or historic landowners
- the learned elites : university scholars and churchmen
the middle class
- merchants, professional men and substantial (non-noble) landowners/farmers
the common class
- 90% of a country’s population
- people who lived in hamlets, villages and small towns
what gradually happened with the elite thinking?
- over time the elites gradually withdrew from participating in this traditional world encouraged by Renaissance humanism, the Reformation and Counter Reformation
- By the C18th the elite in both state and Church ‘waged war’ on what they saw as the ‘superstitious’ values and the disorder, profanity and rowdiness resulting from many of the recreational pursuits of ordinary people (Shakespeare’s plays could be argued to be an example of this)
how did the learned elite understand and interact with magic during the 16th/17th centuries?
- renaissance magus
an example of a learned elite
- john dee
others include - simon forman/richard napier
- an Anglo-Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, teacher, occultist, and alchemist
- he helped Queen Elizabeth decide on her coronation date by looking at her horoscope / advises her on how to beat a magical attempt to assassinate her
- he was also known for being involved in necromancy: raising angels
- An acclaimed physician for his time and dedicated to using the most up to date knowledge
- He still cast horoscopes when treating his patients and also got involved in necromancy
- People of all backgrounds approached him for medical advice and guidance on weather for trading journeys
- ‘Astrological physician’, dedicated himself to the study of theology, alchemy and astrological medicine
- Treated 10,000s of people for a wide variety of illnesses, didn’t charge anyone but still made a fortune
- He was a strong Calvinist but despite this offered amulets to protect patients against evil spirits
what were the noble elites thinking?
- they didn’t “know about magic” and the occult in the same way but did believe in its existence
- especially when harm that couldn’t be explained came to them or there was social tension
‘upper’ common class members
- local farmers, small time tradesmen
- may be educated to some extent, more than the majority
‘lower’ common class members
- poor, worked for other and relied on charity
what was the main religion of the common class?
- christianity was central to people’s lives, but this was different to the ‘learned’ christianity of the elite
what did the beliefs of the common class do?
- reinforced notions of community, and the ideas of right and wrong
- added meaning to the rites of passage (birth, marriage, death)
- helped give some sense of meaning to challenging times