The Effects Of Feudalism Essay

1453 words - 6 pages

In Medieval times during the 10th and 13th centuries, a form of political and social organization called feudalism was a way of life that had great effect on people of the time and on the modern world. Feudalism was developed because of the weakness of Europe and it's kings. The word feudalism comes from the word fief, which was the land held on condition of feudal service, similar to an estate (English). The fiefs bound together lords and vassals. Feudalism was a structure in which a lord divided his land into smaller parts to give to lesser lords (“Feudalism”).
A noble, or lord, was in control of his manor. The manor was the heart of feudal economy (Ellis and Esler 222). A manor often consisted of the castle, a church, a village, and the surrounding farm land (“The Middle Ages”). The king owned all of the land in the society and divided it among trusted lords. A lord would then give portions of their land to vassals, who made an agreement of loyalty and service to the lord in exchange for the land (Ellis and Esler 219-244). A vassal was often a lord as well. Vassals would have their own vassals, making them lords of those vassals (Ellis and Esler 219). Again, these vassals had their own vassals, but these vassals were called serfs. Peasants made up a majority of the population on a manor, but most of the peasants were serfs because they were bound to the land (Ellis and Esler 222). The feudal system was based on personal oaths of allegiance and was supported by the medieval Christian Church (“Feudalism” Hutchinson Encyclopedia). The exchange of pledges between a lord and a vassal was known as the feudal contract (Ellis and Esler 219). The lord granted the vassal a fief and provided him protection, who in return gave the lord loyalty and 40 days of military service. The fief included the peasants, towns, or buildings that were on it (Ellis and Esler 219).
Life as a serf or peasant was not easy. Serfs were bound to their lord's land and required to do services for him. Although they could not be sold like slaves, they had no freedom (Ellis and Esler 219-244). Peasants farmed for the goods that the lord and his manor needed. They went through difficult hardship because of this. Peasants were heavily taxed and had to provide for themselves the goods that they needed (“The Middle Ages”). According to the medieval law, the peasants were not considered to 'belong to' themselves (“The Middle Ages”). Although serfs were peasants and had relatively the same duties and similar rights, what differentiated a peasant from a serf was that a peasant was not bound to the land (“The Middle Ages”). Peasants had no schooling and no knowledge of the outside world (Ellis and Esler 219-244). They rarely traveled more than a couple miles outside of their villages. All members of a peasant family, including children, tended crops, farmed, and did some sort of work to help out (Ellis and Esler 224). Very few peasants lived past the age of 35 because of hunger in the...

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