There were three levels of social class in Medieval Europe:
Nobility included people of royalty and high power or wealth. The king was considered nobility. Common people were those of average wealth or lower, who had to work for a living. Children were considered the lowest in society.
In Medieval Europe, the society was mostly based on the feudal system. This system was the process of giving and keeping pieces of land to workers. It was also the main way of power distrubution in the government at this time.
When the Goth and the Vandal tribes moved into Europe from the north, each man sought after his own land, willing to use any kind of force to attain it. The strongest man took the most land.
Usually, who recieved land was determined by fighting. The strongest man became the king and took the most land. The left over land was split among his main followers, all of whom had to agree to pay taxes to him and guard him in battles. The followers would then split their portion of land with other lower, less important men. Basically, each person (except the king) was controlled by a stronger person. Everyone in this system was bound by their lord with more or less the same conditions of taxes and fighting. The stronger man was always the lord and the weaker man was always the vassal.
Vassals always had to worship the lord for land. He would go unarmed to his lord and bend down on his knees. After putting his hands between his lordís and swearing to faithfully serve and battle for his lord, he would be granted land. Any piece of land or right given to a vassal was known as a "fief".
Many lords had a small army of vassals at their service. He would use his army to emphasize his laws. However, once a lord gave a piece of land to a vassal, he no longer had control over that land. A lord needed to trust his vassals to carry out his commands. In feudalism, vassals could be a lord to a lower vassal, or could be a vassal to multiple lords. Vassals could swear loyalty to up to twelve lords. This was sometimes a big problem when a vassal's lords fought against each other.
To the left is a diagram of the social order in terms of lords and vassals. Peasants were at the lowest in the social class, and were considered useless, as they had no weapons.