In the last chapter I came close to describing a universal mech-anism of the use and abuse of noble descent, from Ancient Rome to the France of St Louis and the England of Henry III. But in the chapter before that I warned solemnly about how ideas of continuity in family structures may mislead us. So now comes the corrective. Something undoubtedly did change in ideas of nobility and descent between 1100 and 1300. It was perhaps a consequence of what is called the ‘twelfth-century renaissance’, the increase in levels of literacy and education which led to a more self-conscious society. Educated clerics discussed and put forward social concepts, and disinterred in their support the views of the humanist writers of Greece and Rome. They did not keep the arguments to themselves. The debate embraced the educated and aspirational amongst the lay nobility. One thing they debated, as we have seen, was the mismatch between blood and merit. But there was a much more pressing reason why the idea of lineage, which was already old, should suddenly become more important and self-conscious an idea in the later twelfth century. The perception of injustice about the abuse of parage, the disadvantages to which lineage and parage put the talented nobody, tell us that barriers raised by the concept of lineage were beginning to be resented. These barriers were being erected because nobility was becoming more than just a matter of descent, but a matter of what step you stood on in society.