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Medieval Society

The Three Orders

Oratores, bellatores, laborares: this translates as "those who pray", "those who fight", and "those who work".

We find this three-fold division in writings as early as the 9th century, and it is commonly used right down to textbooks today. It was never a complete description of society, but it's a useful starting point because it will introduce some fundamental concepts and two important groups that appear over and over—the clergy and the nobility.

I will talk a bit about each of these groups in the following pages.