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(4 Janv, 2007)
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12th Century Life

There can now doubting that 12th century Wales could be a turbulent and violent time in which to live, but it was also an era chock full of captivating characters, fascinating places and interesting events.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will pick different topics to write about. I hope you enjoy the articles and please check back frequently for new items - next up…

Status and class in Welsh Society

There were five classes in early medieval Welsh society:
a) The royal class; this consisted of the King(s) or territorial lord(s), and their entourages.

b) The free-born class or ‘boneddig’ – the men of lineage; consisting of the uchelwyr (landed gentry), the married freemen, and the unmarried freemen.

c) The ‘aillt' (North Wales) or 'taeog' (South Wales) class; rough translation – ‘those belonging to the house or land’, enjoyed some degree of freedom and rights, but not like the freemen. In some ways equivalent to the villain across the border in England.

d) The 'alltud' class; men of foreign blood resident in the country.

e) The 'caeth' or bond-servant class; equivalent to the slaves of other systems of law.

Broadly speaking, similar systems existed in most Western European regions, although in no system is the position of the 'foreigner' so clearly defined as in Welsh Law. Foreigners in blood appear in all systems, but it is generally difficult to differentiate between the stranger in blood and race and the mere wandering stranger to a particular countryside. In Welsh Law, no free Welshman could be regarded as a stranger in any part of Wales.