Olivia Difonso -
The Medieval concept of power and equality differ greatly from our contemporary concept. In Medieval times, your class was in your genes; if you were born a peasant, you died a peasant. The aristocrats owned all the land, because they could afford it and were born into that type of lifestyle. When serfs were forced to work under the aristocrats, they became property of the higher class. Serfs were treated poorly and sometimes tried to escape the slave life; however, Lords went to great lengths to capture runaway serfs. The rule of the Lords over the peasants was harsh; "If the slave tried to cry out, or to move from one place to another, a naked sword threatened him; and he found great enjoyment in the man's tears". (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/575Rauching.html) In contemporary times, there are many people groups and law forces that condemn the abuse of slaves, or any person for that matter. It is the civil law stated by the Thirteenth Amendment that, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude...shall exist within the United States" (http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/13thamendment.html). This Amendment written in the Constitution abolishes acts of slavery or forced labor in the United States. From the time of the Middle Ages to now, the law of slavery has been modified greatly to support the freedom of people.
Jordan Clarke -
How was the Medieval concept of power and equality different from our contemporary concept?
The Medieval concept of power and equality was completely different from our concept today. They believed in a caste system. In a caste system no one is equal. Equality in Medieval times was non-existent. You were born into a class because it was in your genes. If you were born a peasant, you died as a peasant. Today, people believe if the concept that everyone is created equal. We all are one nation that unties together and every man and woman has equal rights along with chances to succeed. Martin Luther King Jr. gave us a prime example in his "I Have A Dream" speech, of how the concept of equality is important. He stated, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." (http://www.usconstitution.net/dream.html)
A caste system resembles a triangle with the king at the top of the triangle. The king held all the power. It was great to be king. The peasants and serfs were at the base of the triangle showing that most of the population was made up of peasants and serfs. Therefore, they were the lowest rank in the social system. Serfs and peasants had to work on their lord's land that they were granted. A man was tied to the soil and if he tried to escape he was punished. Depression was existent and majority of the people were depressed because of the social situations they were in. Serfs were basically treated like slaves. Gregory of Tours stated, "but if the slave tried to cry out, or to move from one place to another, a naked sword threatened him; and he found great enjoyment in the man's tears." (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/575Rauching.html) Today, people are not slaves and nobody is owned by a another person. This is why Medieval concept of power and equality is different from the modern concept of it all.
"13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress)." Library of Congress Home. Web. 14 Apr. 2010.
Migne, J. P. "Medieval Sourcebook: Gregory of Tours: Harsh Treatment of Serfs and Slaves, C."FORDHAM.EDU. Paul Halsall, Oct. 1998. Web. 14 Apr. 2010.
"The I Have a Dream Speech - The U.S. Constitution Online - USConstitution.net." Index Page - The U.S. Constitution Online - USConstitution.net. Web. 14 Apr. 2010. .
image from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bb/Peasants_in_finland.jpg