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Word Count: 1,806
Medieval society as characterized by Adalbero of Laon can be said to have contained three social orders those who worked those who fought and those who prayed In theory and during the period in which it was stated this could be a reasonable assertion although reality probably painted a slightly different picture It seems an oversimplified interpretation of a heavily stratified society one whose true nature should be separated from this idealistic description Around 1000 AD there seems to begin a shift in the social and economic climate of Western Europe Increased agricultural production due to technological innovations helped to boost the population to twice that of what it had been prior to the eleventh century An increased birthrate stabilizing political climate and reduction of external raiding as well as internal and external expansion were also plausible causes for this boom in population The significant changes in rural society gave way to several influences on the order known to Adalbero as those who worked This order consisted of an extremely diverse segment of society peasantsP317 While in the eyes of the clergy and nobility this group was seen as inferior it is clear that without them the other two could not have existed P312 In fact this group consisted of between 90 and 95 of the population throughout the Middle Ages but is ironically also the group about which the least is documented The people personified as those who worked ranged from slaves to free people of some means although the number of slaves was greatly reduced during the tenth and eleventh centuries P317 However in areas of expansion there was often a steady supply of conquered peoples who could be exploited for labor P317 Legal status of peasants throughout the Middle Ages remained in a state of flux and varied greatly from region to region P317 The word serf emerged during this period having shifted meanings from the classical Latin servus or slave
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