Реферат: Definition Of Feudalism Essay Research Paper Feudalism

Definition Of Feudalism Essay, Research Paper

Feudalism is not an easy term to define. The use of the word feudalism was not a term

that is created by scholars in the seventeenth century, well after the medieval age. Thus

the term is filled with confusion and inaccuracy. In a way, the term feudalism tries to

condense all the aspects of a complex society into one term. By creating the term,

scholars tried to condense the society into connections to the feud, or estate granted to

?vassus? by lords. The terms vassus and lord meant different things to different groups of

peoples in different areas and during different times. Thus it is hard define precisely what

feudalism is. Scholars however have two differing descriptions about how to view


In one view, that of Marc Bloch, viewed feudalism as the complete society,

political, military, social, and economic. He saw all of these issues centering around

lordship. Karl Marx also took this perspective with one major difference; he centered on

peasants. Marxism?s main emphasis is that of the plight of the worker thus in his view of

feudalism only the peasants contributed to society.

In another major view, feudalism is largely a political term. The political power in

feudalism, these individuals claim, was treated as an individual possession and held by

those who owned the land. Thus the government was ruled by the lords and royal officials

who ruled over their land. Under the lords were their ?bodyguards? or knights. Below

these knights were the retainers or vassals.

Just as there is confusion over the precise definition of feudalism, there is

confusion over its origins. Some scholars claim that with the invention of the stirrup, the

bodyguards or retainers became more important. Those that were trained in using the

stirrup to spear his enemy became valuable to the lords, who made these men take oaths

of allegiance to them. This started the dependency of the lower class on the aristocratic


In the more widely held, modern view, Martel purchased the loyalty of subjects

with land or other wealth. These retainers became the vassals. These vassals were not

members of the nobility and thus could not rule. The ruling counts were below kings in

early feudalism, however when the kings failed to protect, the counts stepped in and

protected their people for a price, that of subservience. In this sense feudalism takes on a

form of government, the vassals and retainers making up the lower class and the counts

making up the aristocracy.

In analyzing the reading, it appears the feudalism was a source of order in Europe.

In a time of civil war and danger from barbarian invaders, feudalism provided protection

and a way of life to the peasants of Europe. While peasants were, from a modern view,

owned by the lords, in the sense that they were indebted to the lords, the peasants were

willing to sacrifice complete freedom for the protection. The direct influence of this way

of life on the peasants was that they were protected by and indebted to the lords. The

lords became their rulers as opposed to the kings.

McKay, Hill, Buckner. A History of Western Society. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999

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