The evaluation of any historic event is a good chance to learn the experience of the past and take the most important issues for consideration. Current paper aims at discussing and comparing several primary sources: the Digger Pamphlet offered by Gerrard Winstanley in the 17th century and the charters and fueros that came from the 12th-century France and Spain.
These sources have one central issue – the relations between the representatives of elite and non-elite and the development of the tributary relations on the basis of the legal documents and norms settled by the current leader. However, there are certain differences in such kind of relations, and the analysis of these differences helps to understand the role of the documents in the history and their connection to the issues discussed in class.
The charters and fueros, as well as the Digger Pamphlet, proves that the relations between poor and rich people had their own peculiarities and principles in different centuries and defined the quality of life according to the demands of a society: the comparison and contrast shows that the 17th-century England wanted to promote the idea of freedom and equal rights and the 12th-century Spain/France demonstrated its attention to the specific payments that supported the equality of the rights in regards to the services and duties completed.
The question of land property and the rules that should to be followed was a burning one during a long period of time. It does not matter whether the events took place in the far 12th century or the 17th century, the main idea rests the same – people had to be aware of the certain norms and consider them not to destroy the order.
The Digger Pamphlet and the charters with fueros serve as the bright examples of how the lives of ordinary people were organized. There was a system for consideration that controlled human lives and relations. There was a necessity to pay for living. There was an order for each society. Still, these are the only similarities that can be observed through the sources under analysis.
The conditions under which the English and the Spanish and the French lived differed considerably due to the roles of various social classes. The English people were divided into poor and rich and had to follow the rules defined. The nature of tributary relations of that period was not equal, and the poor people wanted to promote some changes to improve their living conditions. Still, the idea of those relations was about the connection between the elite and non-elite and the way of how the payment was organized.
The poor people were not satisfied with the existed inequalities: the manors should not regarded as the only lords of the land and the diggers had the intentions to deserve their rights on land by means of love and faith but not by means of fights and wars that had been used earlier (Winstanley n.d). They were ready to pay taxes the same way the elite did it. Still, they were in need of recognition at different levels to be sure of their future.
In comparison to the English style of life in the 17th century, the Spanish and French style of life seemed to be easier and more definite in the 12th century. People were under the control of one particular lord that established certain rules and norms. The only important requirement was taxes payment. People should be ready to pay for any kind of mistake. For example, in Spain, “if any of you goes against his neighbor in anger and armed with lance, sword, club, or knife, let him fine for it 1000 s. or lose the fight” (Constable 2011, 124).
If you were a citizen of France with a house in the parish, you should be ready to pay about cens sixpence for the house and for each acre of the land owned (Ogg 1907). It is necessary to admit that such conditions did not define the existence of the inequalities between the citizens, however, any kind of payment obligations presupposed the possibility of inequalities as not all people could allow themselves paying for their mistakes.
The sources under consideration prove that Medieval European peasants wanted to achieve the declaration of their rights on land. Of course, different times required different norms. The tributary system was effective for a long period of time, still, some people could not agree with the fact that they had to be under the control of other groups of people. The Spanish fueros provided people of different social statuses with more confident grants to have equal rights and abilities to own the land.
The French charters proved that people were not predetermined by their incomes; the only thing that mattered was the necessity to pay for the land and follow the rules to support the stability. And the English pamphlet demonstrated how unequal the relations between people could be.
Even having the possibility to pay for the land and follow all the rules established, the poor people did not have a chance to be recognized by the lords. They tried to ask for some attention without anger and struggles. They truly believed that kind relations between people were possible, they just should accept them.
In general, the comparison of primary sources with the tributary economic relations discussed shows that people during different periods of time were eager to change their lives and use particular norms and rules to consider the importance of an order in a society. The English pamphlet, the Spanish fueros, and the French charters demonstrate how it was possible to develop the relations and provide people with the hope that everything could be better.
Constable, Olivia, R. “Two Christian Urban Charters”. In Medieval Iberia, edited by Olivia Remie Constable, 123-126. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.
Ogg, Frederic, A. “Charter of Lorris.” In A Source Book for Medieval History, edited by Frederic Austin Ogg, 328-330. New York: American Book Co., 1907.
Winstanley, Gerrard. “Diggers Pamphlet.” Bilderberg.org. http://www.bilderberg.org/land/poor.htm (accessed February 12, 2015).