- "Burn the cities, but leave the farms, and the cities will grow from the ashes. But burn the farms, and grass will grow through the cobbles on every city street."
- —Anonymous Farmer[1a]
The old feudal order of the Empire is no longer what it once was, and a new enterprising class is bridging the gap between peasant and noble. In cities, burghers have begun to appear. Their equivalent in the countryside is an emerging class of landed gentry. Land is often parcelled out to commoners as a reward for military service, or merchants invest their wealth by purchasing the estates of impoverished nobles. Rarely, tenant peasants save enough to buy the fields they till from their lord. Land is inherited, but no farmer’s claim yet spans more than a couple of generations. A farmer employs many hands to work the land, but he toils as hard as any peasant, for the wealth that hard work brings provides a significant social standing in the rural community.[1a]