Similarity between social patterns in medieval Europe and colonial Latin America

One similarity between the social patterns in medieval Europe and those in colonial Latin America is that both societies separated people into distinct classes.

Most Medieval people were peasants, over 90%, but the divide between peasants and nobility was very clear-cut. Clergy were also an important part of the social order during the Middle Ages, though they were not necessarily considered a separate class.

The Royalty were the highest of the Social Classes in the Middle Ages. The King was the highest authority in the land. Though they did not often rule alone, Queens played an important part in the Medieval class system. Queens were usually second in command to Kings.

Depending on their birth order, a prince may have been next in line for the throne when his father died. Princes most likely sat in on courtly meetings.

Princesses were not usually next in line for the throne unless there was no male heir who could take the place on the throne that was being left.

After the Royals, Nobility had the most power of the social classes in the Middle Ages. Nobility included hereditary nobility, which were those whose power was bestowed on them through blood relations, and non-hereditary nobility, which included those who rose to power through non-familial means.

In colonial Latin America, the social classes were organized in a caste system. One’s social class was directly tied to how “pure” his blood was and his place of birth.

The kings wanted to keep the colonies under their control and only have “loyal” people in office.

Peninsulares - "pure blood" from the Iberian Peninsula; highest social class and the only class which could hold high office (church, military, administrative).

Creoles - born in Americas; land-owning; elite; could not hold highest positions; in 1800s will rebel against peninsulares in wars of independence.

Mestizos - of Spanish and Amerindian descent; Spanish and Portuguese men married native women and had families.

Zambos - Amerindian and African descent

Mulattoes - Spanish and African descent

Africans - many Africans were brought over from Africa to the colonies as slaves; some of these Africans would escape from a plantation and find their way to native villages.

See Social Structure of Colonial Latin America and Social Classes in the Middle Ages to know more.

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