The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

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In The Three Orders, George Duby—one of the most influential French historians of his time—examines the origins of an “imaginary” tripartite division of society in medieval France, a division that endured for a millennium. This construct is the image of a society in which men separate themselves into three hierarchical orders—those who pray, those who fight, and those who work. Duby explains why this schema, supported by the general movement of the economy and the political and cultural organization, became ...

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Overview

In The Three Orders, George Duby—one of the most influential French historians of his time—examines the origins of an “imaginary” tripartite division of society in medieval France, a division that endured for a millennium. This construct is the image of a society in which men separate themselves into three hierarchical orders—those who pray, those who fight, and those who work. Duby explains why this schema, supported by the general movement of the economy and the political and cultural organization, became entrenched in the north of France during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

The book begins with a brief examination of a popular early seventh-century treatise on the “three estates” of France. Duby then jumps abruptly back to the period in which the notion that French society was divided into three estates was born. It was the bishops of a tottering Capetian state who drew upon older imaginings of hierarchical order to project a new rationale for royal power and peasant subservience; their ternary scheme collapsed with the monarchy itself, to be resuscitated in the twelfth century, when the maturing of feudal-vassalic institutions and the conflict between Capetians and Plantagenets contributed to a definitive restoration of monarchical trifunctionality. In tracing the fortunes of the three orders, Duby shows how the tripartite schema came to occupy a central position in social thought and clarifies the manner in which feudal society viewed itself.

Praise for The Three Orders:

 

"The Three Orders is a brilliant book, superbly reflecting the author's special scholarly style and remarkable intellectual power....To the best of my knowledge, there is no scholarly work which, taken as a whole, even remotely resembles it.” —Professor Robert Benson, UCLA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781435107892
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/25/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Georges Duby (1919–1996) ranks among the most influential medieval historians of the twentieth century. He completed his graduate thesis at the Sorbonne in 1952. Although never a student of Marc Bloch or Lucien Febvre, Duby’s work on the history of “mentalities” makes him one of the most visible exponents of the Annales tradition. In 1970 he was appointed to the Chair of the History of Medieval Society in the Collège de France. He was elected to the Academie Française in 1987.

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