Lower middle class Upper middle class Bourgeoisie Petite bourgeoisie. Under this system, peasants lived on a manor presided over by a lord or a bishop of the church. In general English-language literature, the use of "peasant" has been in steady decline since Transactions of the Philological Society 8 : — In the s, anthropologists and historians began to rethink the role of peasant revolt in world history and in their own disciplines. In the wake of this disruption to the established order, later centuries saw the invention of the printing press, the development of widespread literacy and the enormous social and intellectual changes of the Enlightenment. The open field system of agriculture dominated most of northern Europe during medieval times and endured until the nineteenth century in many areas.