Presuming we have a peasant who works on land owned by a "common" lord (sorry, here I don't know the terminology. I mean a landowner who is not a royal), how close would that person ever get to speaking to the king?

I'm interested in two types of answers:

  1. How possible would it be that this person gets to have an audience with the king directly? That is, was there a route for this, and how hard was it to follow?
  2. I assume that most peasants never met the king even if it were possible. However, the king had a hierarchy around him. How high up the hierarchy would the peasant be in common contact with?
  • 5
    After the conquest (1066), the new lords were Norman nobles who did not even speak English. There is the famous story of the priest that could not understand his Bishop speeches, as the priest did not speak French or enough Latin... So when your peasant starts going up the chain of command, he would need a translator. As time passed, the lesser nobles would learn English, gradually until at Henry V's time, the court switched to English.
    – Luiz
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 2:05
  • 2
    I suggest you to read the following link medievalists.net/2016/03/the-daily-life-of-a-medieval-king . King Charles V of France is the subject of the article, but you can clearly read that he would meet with the commoners in the morning, to listen to their requests. It's not a private audience, but having such an audience seems like a privilege for fews since in the article is stated that even nobles and knight met with the king all together
    – Viralk
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 15:39
  • There will be some variation due to the personality and the situation of the king.
    – user15620
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


So the question is limited to Middle Age England.

The various kingdoms in Anglo Saxon England were gradually united over several centuries, with the more or less official date of foundation of the Kingdom of England being 927. A few centuries earlier was the period of what is called the Heptarchy.

The name Heptarchy implies there ere seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England, but actually there were about twelve Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England around the year 600, although only about five of them were powerful. So that implies that a low ranking Anglo Saxon peasant would have had about twelve times as much of a chance to see his king riding by as an English peasant would have after England was united into only one kingdom.

Very little was written about the political history of Anglo-Saxon England before about 597 when St. Augustine arrived to begin converting the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. And even less is believed by modern historians.

But it is quite possible that the 12 kingdoms existing about 597 had been formed by combining smaller kingdoms that existed earlier. I once read a claim that sometime during the 6th century (from 501 to 600) there were hundreds of tiny kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon England that were later united into the 12 kingdoms existing by about 597, which would mean that the average kingdom would contain only about a few thousand people. So if that claim was correct it should have been easy for the average Anglo-Saxon to speak to his king a few times during various public meetings.

So unless one's definition of middle ages England begins after the period when there might have been hundreds of kingdoms in England there may have been a few generations when most peasants might have had several chances to meet their kings.

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