Asked • 06/05/19

How did people categorize each other in the middle ages, how did racism work?

I'm interested in the european high middle ages, about the 12th-13th century. I'm trying to understand how people sorted each other. Nowadays, some overlapping categories people use would be: * citizenship * language * territory, from where someone is * ethnicity/race * nationality, which could be seen as the four above combined, depending on the nation in question * religion * social class * sexual identity In feudal systems you might have "whose your liege" as an additional category. The thing is, I think most of these would have worked very differently or no at all in medievial times: Citizenship makes no sense without a state, so is at most a city-thing. Language, territroy, I don't know, the big importance they get today is I think also because both are tied to nationality, which does not make sense in a medievial context. Ethnicity/race in the modern sense are, well, modern concepts, I don't know how they worked back then. Sexual identity also seems to be a recent invention (Focault: the sodomite was a sinner, the gay is a species). Leaves Religion (but almost everyone is catholic!), social class and 'whose your liege' as possible categories. So how did common people (not clergy, not nobles) sort each other, which of the areas I listed (or others I forgot) where most important? How did people react to travellers, merchants etc from afar?

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