June 2nd, 2010
The Decline of Feudalism
Feudalism was based on a social structure of hierarchy. With William the Conqueror being the first king, he was named to the top of the hierarchy along with God. Everyone else was below them and had to follow their ways. This system ran systematically for years until things started to change. People were branching out from who the king made them to be. They were creating their own lives. The downfall to feudalism was caused by the Crusades, the merchant class, Thomas Becket, the Magna Carta, the Hundred Years War, and the Black Death.
In 1072, Jerusalem and the Holy Land were conquered by the Muslims. Along with the spread of Islam and the growth of the Seljuk Turk Empire, Jerusalem and the Holy Land did not seem to have a chance. People who lived there were forbidden of practicing anything religious. In 1093, an appeal was sent to the pope to have him send armies to help regain the land. Pope Urban II called for a “holy war” to regain what they had lost. Almost 60,000 people responded to the pope’s call. (http://www.wolfhavenproductions.net/FeudalEurope/crusades.htm)
Despite the overwhelming urge to attack the Muslims, there were those out there who thought that war was wrong. Jesus told us to love our enemies, not to fight them. People believed that there had to be a more peaceful way of solving this issue. There were so many people out there who did not acknowledge that there was another choice besides war. People tried to go out and let them know that war was not the answer. Jesus was a pacifist and they knew that he did not want a problem like this to be solved violently. (BOOK)
In the end though, four major crusades, excluding small other ones, occurred. Each one had a single main goal. This goal was to drive out the Muslims to regain that land that was rightfully theirs. Despite all the many attempts, only the first crusade was successful. Many people had died and the feudal system had also been hit. First, many lords, vassals and serfs left England to go and help the pope in the war. When the lords and vassals did not return home alive, many of the peasants moved up in hierarchy. When the serfs did not return home alive, many work places were left undermanned and production was stalled. Also, those who did return home brought home the culture of the Middle East. Their lifestyle was much more sophisticated and this culture helped expose what else was out there besides the feudal system. (http://www.wolfhavenproductions.net/FeudalEurope/crusades.htm)
In medieval society, people had no choice on their social hierarchy. Whatever class someone was born into was what they and the rest of their descendents would be classified as. Even if they married royalty as a peasant, the royalty would step down from the throne; they could not step up. There was a distinctly drawn line in between the classes and no one dared to cross it. Eventually, though, a merchant class...