Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(2,240 words)

1. Definition

In the early modern period, the first sign that a person was a member of the underclass was lack of the kind of rights that membership in an elite estate conferred: in towns, for example, the underclasses did not share in municipal shared governance or enjoy political rights such as access to the privileged craft guilds (see 3.1. below). In rural areas, their rights to use the common land were limited; in the enclosures of the late 18th and early 19th centuries (Common lan…

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Pfister, Ulrich and Bräuer, Helmut, “Underclass”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 26 September 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_029374>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20220831

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