Posted by / Sunday 13 May 2018 / No comments

The features of fuedalism

Castle, Brühl, Augustusburg, Feudal
Definition of feudalism
A feudal government is a system of government in which the nobles of the society receive land from the monarch in return for military service to the state, then they, the nobles, in turn give their lands to farmers who work the land and gave a share of the proceeds back to them, in addition to providing labour and paying homage. In compensation, the peasants, also called vassals, received military protection from the nobles.

The presence of Castles
One of the main features of feudalism is the presence of huge castles, where the feudal lords lived. The castles were characterized by high walls and some were surrounded by wide ditches. Inside these castles, the feudal lords stored their arms and ammunition. In the same castles they stored grains. In times of external aggression, the arms and ammunition were used to ward off the attacks and the common people were temporary sheltered inside the castles to save their lives.

The existence of Manors
Another important characteristic of feudalism is that there was at least one Manor attached to the castles. There was always a small community around the castle and the land that was farmed by the peasants was called a Manor. Inside the Manor, one could find the land being cultivated, the dwelling places of the people, Church buildings, etc.

There may be free lands attached to each castle which was owned by the Lord. These lands were the left-over of the lands that had been distributed to peasant farmers to work on as servants of the Nobles. It was these free lands that were referred to as “Demense”. The lord was free to use these lands in any way he thought was appropriate.

Hierarchical social structure
Also a feudal society was hierarchically structures. At the very top of the hierarchy was the king. Though he was the king, in real terms, he did not have any powers. Just below the king was the Feudal Lords. They possessed the real powers and they called the shorts. They actually owned the lands. Following the Lords were the “vassals”. The “serfs” occupied the bottom of the ladder. They mainly worked on the plot of land given to them by their Lords and were required to work on the lord’s land , at least, one day in a week for free.

Again, feudalism was characterized by ‘Knighthood’. Knights were professional soldiers who fought in a noble’s army.  They could also be offered lands in exchange for their military service. The knights went through a kind of apprenticeship. First, they were appointed as “Pages” or servants to other knights. Then they became body-guards or “Squires” to the knights. After passing through the stages to professionalism and proving their lots, they were appointed as knights. A knight took an oath to protect the weak against the strong.

Ceremony of Homage
One of the most important characteristics of feudalism was the ceremony of homage, during which the vassals re-pledged their allegiance to their Lords. One reason why this was important was that it further strengthened the bond between the Lord and his vassals. At these homage ceremonies, the vassals pledged to be loyal to their Lords.

1. a. What is feudalism?
    b. Highlight six characteristics of a feudal system of government.


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