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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

4 - Honour and Respect in Peasant Society

from Part I - Rank


Honour was an important and enduring element in the moral economy and mattered as much to peasants as to the nobility. ‘Honour’ retained something of the Old English notion of weorđ , entitlement. Association with a lord or estate owner could bestow weorđ but so too could ownership of a full ploughteam. Local saints were often people who were valued for what their piety could achieve for the community. Age could command respect: ‘village elders’ and ealdormann , both have ‘elder’ as their root. Peasant elites also became consolidated as a result of the countryside becoming formally organised from the mid-tenth century for the purposes of dealing with local matters, mainly crime and its policing. Townships were the political worlds of the peasantry and the sphere in which peasant elites operated. A strong emphasis was put on inheritance, a value shared across society.