Nobility > closed estate, had to be born into it (unless the king raised you up a class) Clergy > opened class, joined through church. Peasant could become a priest, might rise to a high level in the church. Clergy were not subject to legal process, had their own legal system based on roman law. Nobles can only be judged by other nobles, clergy can only be judged by church. Commoners can not legally go after nobles or clergy. Serfs" lords can go against other nobles. Worked the land on behalf of a lord/monastery/high ranking church official. Neither free nor unfree serfs were slaves. 3 origins: descendants of the coloni, drawn from the native peoples who had been conquered by the invading germans, formerly free germans looking for protection in exchange for labour. Local lord owned much of the land, serfs lived and worked upon it. Shelter for men, women, children, livestock during an attack.