European Workers between order and revolt. Labourers in feudal society (eleventh to the thirteenth century


1 May 2013


Volume 1 – Number 3

How to cite

Mathieu Arnoux



The well-known “Three Orders scheme”, which was from the twelfth century and served as a model for the feudal societies of northern Europe has been thus far commented on from the point of view of the rulers, ecclesiastical and seigniorial. The paper aims to reappraise it from the point of view of the third order: the workers. Far from bringing evidence of an irresistible process of domination, the author emphasizes evidence of a conflictual situation, where the peaceful organization of the orders was constructed through symbolic and actual compensations. This process of settlement of a major social struggle made possible a first stage of the “industrious revolution” and a long trend of economic growth in Europe.


Three Orders scheme, Northern Europe, Twelfth century and beyond, Workers, Conflict, “Industrious revolution”