E Pluribus Unum: Peer Pressures

  • David Gary Shaw
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Much more than we can imagine today, medieval people were almost overwhelmed by a social world that rarely left them alone. Every individual faced an idiosyncratic collection of social pressures. Medieval townspeople had no fewer social pressures than peasants in their village communities. For the privileged urban burgesses or citizens—those men who had chosen to enroll in the Borough Community of their town or city, to pay its taxes and have its privileges—their fraternity was an important high-pressure and high profile glass tank. It is a very good one through which to see the mingling of group and individual. But since the game to which people subscribe was, like language, not of their own creation, this chapter tries to show how such groups might press upon their members, bending them all, if breaking only a few.1 It did so at every step by invoking and strengthening the master values of fidelity, honor, and hierarchical order upon which the justification for social action and social control rested.


Social Control Fifteenth Century Village Community Royal Court Social Domination 


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© David Gary Shaw 2005

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  • David Gary Shaw

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