The purpose of this research paper is to evaluate feudalism’s effectiveness as an economic system. Feudalism was the system most common in Middle Ages Europe. This structure of land distribution involved breaking up land into smaller pieces with their own rulers in exchange for loyalty to the king. This investigation will focus on the Feudalism specifically in Europe in the Middle Ages, as opposed to Oriental feudalism. The books The Middle Ages by Joseph Dahlmus and Feudal Society by Marc Bloch, which dives into Feudalism’s details and effects, are two prominent sources in the paper.
Word Count: 95
Summary of Evidence:
Feudalism was an economic and governmental structure in which land was divided into smaller pieces based on people’s servitude. Vassals were subjects to whom a higher authority would grant land in exchange for their loyalty and service. The kingdom’s ruler would give his higher-classed subjects vassalages, making them lord of their territory. These lords and nobles then split their land among their own servants, who in turn did the same. In this system, the King’s land was broken up into many small subdivisions.
By 700 CE it was custom for knights to become vassals, meaning that lords had high economic status: only the wealthy could afford horses, which were necessary to become an effective soldier. Since shortly before the feudal age, the army with better horsemen was victorious more often in battle. This lead to horses being valued and important, which is why vassals were usually rich.
The first recorded form of feudalism in Europe was the leadership structure in German barbarian clans in the 100s CE. Soldiers in these tribes had undying loyalty to their chieftain, and in return they received riches from plundered cities and command of their own soldiers. This process is in part what inspired the Romans to develop a similar system as a form of protection from barbarian tribes. Peasants would give service in exchange for protection, and the nobles who accepted would in turn do the same with yet higher authorities.
King Charlemagne was one of the first kings to put a feudal system into effect as a structured form of government instead of a guideline for soldiers. Because he was strongly Christian, Charlemagne appointed bishops with political power to rule alongside lords. The competition and cooperation between lords and bishops created a checks and balances system meant to prevent lords from seizing power from the king. After Charlemagne’s reign lords became more independent, which caused wars because no one would obey royalty. There were so many princes who were of equal power that no one wanted to be subordinate to each other. Feudalism ended in continental Europe because the land was seen as private (not the King’s), so mutual obligation disappeared.
The peasants had the same rights to protection and their lords’ care as anyone else; the system was originally based strongly on honour and obligation. Farming...