Social Standing

As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
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darkerhorse
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Social Standing

Post by darkerhorse »

For Sicily in the 1800s, is it fair to characterize a family headed by land owners and shoemakers over the generations as having higher social standing than a (related) family headed by shepherds over the generations?

The men of the first family were often referred to as "Don" while the men of the second family never were.

I don't know if the second family owned sheep and/or land, or just tended the animals for someone else. The term used most often was "pastore".

I'm not being judgmental. In fact, I'm partial to the shepherd family. I'm just trying to be accurate for the time and place.
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arturo.c
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Re: Social Standing

Post by arturo.c »

A Sicilian colleague of mine once told me about how - according to what his grandparents told him - the social standing in his hometown regulated even who and when had to right to stroll in the town square on Sundays.

Apparently, there was an unwritten rule that gave members of the nobility and the "borgesia" (mostly composed by other notables, heads of public offices and professionals such as the local doctor, the pharmacist, the notary, the lawyer, etc.) the right to attend the first mid-morning (and therefore most important) Mass at the main Church, and stroll in the town square and city center streets afterwards until about noon, while the "maestranza" (craftsmen and artisans) would be allowed to do it in the afternoon, and the "plebe" either in the early morning or in the late afternoon until dusk.
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MarcuccioV
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Re: Social Standing

Post by MarcuccioV »

This type of modified feudalism is very likely what was the impetus for the mass exodus of the lower classes of Italians to countries (especially North & South America) with better opportunities for social advancement.

In my family's case, all were simply "contadini" (sustenance/tenant farmers; peasants) with no possibility (at the time) to improve their status, as most of the older generations at least were functionally illiterate.

Most of the land around the town (with the exception of small family owned plots which were in the minority) was owned by wealthy members of Italian nobility so escape from this social order was nearly impossible.

The fact that most immigrants flourished and succeeded (some exceptionally) in their adoptive countries proved that it was a faulty system and kept the lower classes oppressed.

Most of those in the upper echelons of the system remained in Italy so as not to lose their lofty places in that society. Eventually some reforms won out, but they were long & slow in coming...
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darkerhorse
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Re: Social Standing

Post by darkerhorse »

Sounds like my paternal line walked early or late.
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MarcuccioV
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Re: Social Standing

Post by MarcuccioV »

darkerhorse wrote: 11 May 2021, 16:52 Sounds like my paternal line walked early or late.
Although probably not applicable in this case, another method of achieving social status were through religious orders. Examples would be the Knights Templar or the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre (my wife is a 'Dame' in the latter). Of course these often required pilgrimage travel &/or financial support so they were mainly only open to those of the higher levels anyway, but could be leveraged for an even higher tier of status...
Mark

If you ignore your foundation, your house will eventually collapse...
MariaMadonna
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Re: Social Standing

Post by MariaMadonna »

My Tuscan step-grandfather recalled that the front rows of seating in the church were reserved for the aristocracy.
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