124 – Social Mobility: Getting a Raise in Anglo Saxon Kingdoms

Ok, so stratification… for the most part we’ve been talking about the Royals and how they’re pulling away from the peasants, but there’s another thing that’s occurring on the island with regard to status… because history is rarely black and white… and that thing is an increasing level of social mobility. And right now you might have thought you misheard me, or that I misspoke, but no… you heard right. Despite the increasing concentration of power that’s been occurring as these Dynasties solidify their hold on power, we’re also seeing increasing social mobility. Crazy, right?

And that’s the real focus of what we’re going to talk about today…. and frankly, the three to four hundred year growth of social mobility is one of the most fascinating parts of this era of history and we can see beginnings of many social aspects of British life finding it’s start right here… And to a certain extent, it’s existence is somewhat self-evident. If the story of Anglo Saxon Britain is one that transitions from societies of farmers and slaves being lead by a King, to one where Kings rule over large groups of farmers that are administered by a variety of officials, tended to by men of the cloth, protected by warriors, and served by tradesmen… by definition, you’re going to have a growth of social mobility and class differentiation occurring.

  9 comments for “124 – Social Mobility: Getting a Raise in Anglo Saxon Kingdoms

  1. Luke R
    May 11, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Excellent episode Jamie. Really thorough and well worth the wait.

    Passed the time for me as I made a Sunday Fry up for the household and cleaned the kitchen!

    • May 11, 2014 at 7:13 am

      Penda would be proud! :)

      • Luke R
        May 11, 2014 at 9:06 am

        I daresay I wouldn’t have been welcome in his circle of hard-man warriors!

  2. Tom
    May 31, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    My favourite episode so far. I’m currently cycling around the world looking at interesting historical sites as I go and your podcast downloaded onto my iPod is my constant companion on long dark nights camping in odd places. Brilliant stuff.

  3. June 2, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Love the Bill Gates analogy, very thought provoking. I tend to picture Anglo-Saxon kings as Vito Corleone type figures, from now Don Corleone will have a significantly higher bank balance.

  4. Dave
    November 27, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Jamie,

    I discovered your podcast a few months back and I think it’s fantastic. The only negative thing is that once I get up to the last one you’ve recorded I’ll have to wait a week for the next one.

    Great point you made about the Saxon era being unfairly dismissed. Like many, my knowledge drops off considerably after 410 & doesn’t really pick up until the Wessex consolidation under Alfred, Edward & Aethelstan. Thanks for remedying that!

    Speaking of which, have you read the Saxon saga novels by Bernard Cornwell? If so, what do you think? I think the storytelling, through the character of Uhtred, a Saxon by birth and Dane by upbringing, is outstanding. And I respect that Cornwell includes afterwords in each book that tell us when he’s departing from known history for dramatic effect, or at least admits to that perennial all-star favourite, “we just don’t know”.

    • November 29, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Unfortunately, all my reading time is now taken up with historical texts and secondary sources. But at some point, once the show is over (so some time in the 2030’s) I’ll have to check it out. :)

  5. Chris
    October 30, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I’ve only been listening for a few months and just reached this episode. I’m actually quite pleased that you’re spending the time to go over this period. The way I had it taught to me while in my grade school years was as if after Rome collapsed it was like everyone either died or loaded up into their spaceships and left the planet until randomly a few hundred years later we had the Medieval Era and the Crusades. I’ve always been interested in what happened between the two periods and been a bit disappointed in what little I’ve found thus far.

    • October 30, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Actually, if you’re interested in the history of people loading onto space ships in the past, The History Channel has you covered.

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