Compare And Contrast Feudalism Essay

1255 words - 6 pages

Feudalism arose in a time after the dark ages when the governments of many countries couldn't protect their people from invasions or make them feel secure. When faced with this, people banded together either in warrior families or, in Europe, secured land from the king who distributed that land in exchange military service. The people who weren't powerful enough at the time lived in the lower class, bound to the land that they worked. Two prominent two regions involved in feudal government were Western Europe and Japan. While each of these areas used the style of government named feudalism, historians argue over a clear definition of feudalism that applies to each of these locations. On one hand, both Japanese and Western European warriors had a code of conduct, or set of rules they had to follow, each of these regions also shared a similar social hierarchy scale and in both societies people normally exchanged land for military service. On the other hand, the influence of religion on feudalism in each of the two regions varied, the way warriors were payed for their service was different and the power of merchants in each of the communities differed in each location.
Be it Chivalry or Bushido, if one was to become a warrior in a feudalistic society one had to first agree to a set of rules about fighting and how to behave. Some of these rules might include protecting weakness, or defending ones church, and always backing up justice. However, one of the more important teachings from this code was to follow the feudalistic system. As long as knights and other chivalrous people followed this code, the higher up leaders like the lords and shōgun could easily keep order. Speaking of lords and shōgun, each of these two regions had similar rankings in society. The highest of each of the social strata were the kings and the emperors, in Western Europe the king were involved a bit in the church, and provided land to the lords; in Japan the emperors were mainly figureheads. Right below the kings and emperors in power, were the lords and the shōgun. These men were distributed some of their plentiful land in exchange for military service; they wanted people who could defend the land they were given. Next on the food chain of feudalism were the vassals and daimyo, or the lesser lords, they were given land to rule so long as they recruited armies of knights and samurai, who were the after the lesser lords on the hierarchy. The knights and samurai were bound to feudalism and justice through codes of conduct each region had. Last on the list were the serfs, merchants and artisans, or the non nobles. These peasants made up around 90 percent of the population and rarely worked their way up to nobility. However, in some cases they could earn more land for more service. The way feudalism worked was land was given to people in exchange for services and loyalty. Many of the peasants in Western Europe were serfs and had only labor skills. Because of this they had to...

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