Today's historians have observed in retrospect how political identities became regionalised in the 10th century. While until about 900 almost all of Western and Central Europe belonged to the Frankish Empire (Regnum Francorum), by the year 1000 the word Francia only referred to the dominion of the French king in the Île-de-France region around Paris. Regions such as Aquitaine, Burgundy or Catalonia went their own way, and in those parts the king had little significance in practice. In former East Francia, which included parts of current-day Germany, an independent kingdom developed.
At the same time, monks devised a new image of the ideal society, with the so-called "tripartite order of the estates". This was in reference to previous model, which had however never been dominant until then. The monks assigned all members of society different tasks, and a fixed place within the social order, determined by God. They believed that this order consisted of three estates: those who prayed (the clergy), those who fought (the knights), and those who worked (the peasants).
Right: Map of the devided Frankish Empire after the Treaties of Verdun and Ribemonet 879/880.
Background: Emperor Otto III. (980-1002) is represented in this painting (dated around 1000) with representatives of clerical and spiritual power. Besides the order of the three estates the bisection of the political order with a spiritual and secular element stayed important.