The Feudal System

263 views 5 pages ~ 1206 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

By definition, feudalism is the social system involving rights as well as duties that are founded on land tenure and personal relationships.[1] The vassal from the lords in the relationship held land in fief to those that they are either bound by their loyalty, or they owe particular services. Feudalism denotes a society representing a form of civilization that tends to flourish in the specifically closed agricultural economy and also exhibits specific general characteristics alongside the mere presence of the vassals, lords, as well as the fiefs. Feudalism dictated that the individuals who were fulfilling any official duty either military or civil act following the abstract notion of public service or the state. However, these people receive remunerations that are informed of the fiefs held hereditary because of their freedom as well as personal accepted links between them and their overlord.

            In the middle ages, feudalism designated the economic, social as well as the political conditions that existed in Western Europe. Notably, feudalism, as well as the feudal system, had been invented long before the implementation and application period. The idea in question was generally applied in the central and early middle ages that were from the 5th century all the way to the 12th century.[2]

This period marked the disappearance of the western empire’s central political authority and the surfacing of the kingdoms as the active centralized units of the government. The period between mid-8th and the early 9th

century marked success in the creation as well as the maintenance of a relatively unified empire as opposed to before and after the period wherein there was fragmentation of political units and the political authorities were much diffused.

 In several areas, the term feudum and other terms like beneficium as well as casamentum were used in the description of forms of property holding. These holdings that the names denoted have always been considered vitally dependent tenures wherein the rights of the holders were pointedly limited. In the 17th

century, fiefs still existed when the feudal model or construct was developed.[3] Therein, fief represented a piece of property that was mostly land held regarding a service rendered including the military duties. The holder of the fief swore fidelity to the lord, the individual from whom the fief was held, and henceforth became his man. In England, the institution in question survived until 1645 when the parliament and 1660 abolished them after the restoration. In France, they had considerate importance and were employed in the creation as well as reinforcement of social as well as familial bonds. However, the national assembly later eradicated the institution between 1789 and 1793.

            Notably, the medieval feudal system was primarily characterized by the public authority’s absence as well as the local lords’ exercise of the judicial as well as the administrative functions that were usually performed by the central government. The functions in question included the endemic conflict and general disorder, the prevalence of bonds between the vassals- free dependants and the lords, whose forging originated from the bestowal process of the lords’ property referred to as fiefs and the homage reception from the vassals.[4]

Markedly, the bonds entailed the service rendering to the lords by the vassals like counsel, military obligation as well as financial support and the lords’ obligation to respect as well as protect their vassals.

            Mostly, the feudal construct helped in the understanding of the historical narratives in the Roman Empire as well as the different accomplishments of the emperors by filling the gap existing between the 5th and 12th

centuries. Furthermore, the evolution in which Charlemagne seems to be an anomaly, his presentation shows the very origin of feudalism. For instance, there were various barbarian, Roman as well as Carolingian institutions that were considered to be the antecedents for the feudal practices.[5] These practices included the clientage and Roman lordship, barbarian chiefdom of war as well as the bands, the granting of lands to both officeholders and the soldiers, and the oaths of fidelity and loyalty. The highest point of feudalism was met in the 11th century. Later, the rulers who adapted and adopted the feudal institutions to increase their power were labeled the feudal, and their governments referred to as the feudal monarchies.

            Feudalism spread at the same pace with the Frankish conquests to northern Italy, Germany as well as Spain and later as far as Slavic territories. In 1066, the Normans took feudalism to England and Sicily as well as southern Italy in the later years. Feudalism reached both Ireland as well as Scotland as a result of its spread from England. Internally, the feudalism system greatly developed in the 9th century.[6]

For instance, it experienced the significant transformation of the benefice to the hereditary fief. Further, there was a decline of the royal power while the local dynasties gained independence and built various small territorial states that belonged to them. Besides, feudalism spread further into the church, and the secular lords invested the bishops as well as abbots with their ecclesiastical offices as well as the temporalities attached to them in return for homage. Hence, the secular lords were owed various services by the abbots and the bishops. Feudalism, in the department of law and justice, meant the replacement of the ancient courts that consisted of the local dignitaries by the courts that were composed of the various vassals of the common lord. Complexity was met in the judicial apparatus due to the consequent multiplication and dispersal of the courts.

            However, feudalism faced challenges of attacks from different rival forces from the 12th

century. There was the building of the centralized state alongside the officials that were given salaries as well as the mercenary armies regarding the Roman ideas concerning the sovereignty as well as the safeguarding of the order of public.[7]

Therefore, there was a replacement of the relationship between the lord and the vassal with that of the sovereign and the subject as the basis of a society that is well ordered.


Davis, J. Merle. "FEUDALISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN." International Review Of Mission 12, no. 4 (2012): 527-542. doi:10.1111/j.1758-6631.1923.tb04367.x.

Dirlik, Arif. "The Universalisation Of A Concept: ‘Feudalism' To ‘Feudalism' In The Historiography." The Journal Of Peasant Studies 12, no. 2-3 (2014): 197-227. doi:10.1080/03066158508438268.

Lee, Sang-Dong. "The Origins Of Feudalism And The Stirrup Controversy." The Historical Journal 64 (2018): 377-402. doi:10.20457/sha.64.13.

Shah. "Feudalism And Its Antecedents In England." The American Historical Review, 2016. doi:10.1086/ahr/48.2.245.

Spigelman, J. "Institutional Feudalism And The N.R.M.A.." The Australian Quarterly 43, no. 1 (2015): 20. doi:10.2307/20634416.


[1] J. Merle Davis, "FEUDALISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN", International Review Of Mission 12, no. 4 (2012): 527-542, doi:10.1111/j.1758-6631.1923.tb04367.x.

[2] Arif Dirlik, "The Universalisation Of A Concept: ‘Feudalism' To ‘Feudalism' In The Historiography," The Journal Of Peasant Studies 12, no. 2-3 (2014): 197-227, doi:10.1080/03066158508438268.

[3] Sang-Dong Lee, "The Origins Of Feudalism And The Stirrup Controversy," The Historical Journal 64 (2018): 377-402, doi:10.20457/sha.64.13.

[4] Shah, "Feudalism and Its Antecedents in England," The American Historical Review, 2016, doi:10.1086/ahr/48.2.245.

[5] J. Spigelman, "Institutional Feudalism And The N.R.M.A.," The Australian Quarterly 43, no. 1 (2015): 20, doi:10.2307/20634416.

[6] Arif Dirlik, "The Universalisation Of A Concept: ‘Feudalism' To ‘Feudalism' In The Historiography," The Journal Of Peasant Studies 12, no. 2-3 (2014): 197-227, doi:10.1080/03066158508438268.

[7] J. Merle Davis, "FEUDALISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN", International Review Of Mission 12, no. 4 (2012): 527-542, doi:10.1111/j.1758-6631.1923.tb04367.x.

November 13, 2023

History Sociology


Medieval Europe

Subject area:


Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Feudalism
Verified writer

GeraldKing is an amazing writer who will help you with History tasks. He is the friendliest person who will provide you with explanations because he really wants you to learn. Recommended for your history or anthropology assignments!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro

Similar Categories