Feudalism is a system that is prevailing in the European economy during 10th to 13th centuries CE. The distribution and classification of the social stream is mainly done on the base of administrative control and distribution of land into units (fiefs). A landowner (lord) gave a fief along with the promise of military and local and legal protection in return of some payment of some kind from the person who received it. The person who is receiving the land is known as vassal. One of the major problems that is lying in the definition is that existence of feudalism and feudal societies only exists in the historical texts but most of the historical scholars claimed that actual feudalism does not exist in reality. The concept of feudalism was more or less frequent in the medieval societies from 16th century onwards especially during Zhou era of China (1046-256 BCE) and Edo period of Japan (1603-1868 CE). There was no particular existence of feudalism system but many European laws claimed that there was difference in laws across various geographical locations.
One of the most confusion is arising on the origin of feudalism. The word feudalism is mainly composed of two Latin terms. The word feudalis means fee and feodum, meaning fief. The piece of land that is given to the fief as payment for regular military services. On the other hand, this services is closely related with Roman manorial systems in which workers were compensated with protection while living in large estates. Even in the 8th century, kingdom of Franks gave life time free land to the loyal nobles and would have received services in return. One of the best example of feudalism is that William the conqueror (r. 1066-1087 CE). He considered all the lands of England as his own and he has the right to distribute any piece of land among any units. In return of this favour, he would have demanded military services from the noble that has been awarded the land. Even sometimes, the vassal has to kneel down in front of king in form of taking an oath.
Land is important in the feudal system because of the fact that in that period, the land was being used as the barter system. In the feudal system, most of landowners and kings used to distribute lands to their loyal nobles and would have demanded military services in return. Use of lands had been important because of the fact that most of rulers and kings would have given lands. The concept of feudal lands that has been given to fief is mainly associated with the independent agrarian economy. In the early phase of the economic development peasants and farmers would have worked under any landowner. The landowner would have got the return of allowing them to cultivate on their lands in terms of cash or kinds. However, in the feudalism system, the concept has just been modified.
The autarchic system within the economy is mainly targeting the major share of gains. One of the major characteristics of this system is that though the agriculture, the relationship among the land-owner and vassal can be increased and can be implemented. The overall structure of the feudalism can be classified with the structure of pyramid. In the feudal society the top most position is occupied by top most individuals of the society, mostly by major sovereign like kings and landlords. The lower positions being occupied by vassals that are mainly followed by lower vassals. Even the vassals have the rights to pass their powers to their hierarchies and family members. One of the major drawbacks of this kind of system is that most of the vassals got the power to exploit their lower vassals in terms of their productivity.
Through the holdings of the land, the vassals took many barren lands of villages and country side using the power of gratefulness to the ruling kings and land owners. They used to exploit the villagers as per their will and from the land ownership developed the land revenue system. They would have hired many fellow peasants to cultivate on their fields and they would claimed a part of production in terms of cash, kind or sometimes both.
Three main social classes of feudal systems are kings, vassals and peasants. One of the major characteristics of the feudal system is that the power of the individual was mainly depending on the holding of number of lands. In order to utilise the better quantity of production the kings would have given their nobles piece of land and would had asked for military services in favour. Now it was the main responsibility of the nobles to pass on the power of land cultivation. Most probably, the development of this social hierarchy is going to ignite the overall benefit of the issues that would have attached deeply with the land.
The second class was the noble who had to listen everything of the king and was not given the right to decide between right and wrong. They would have obtained the land in favour of their military services and if they wanted they could have transferred the piece of land to their hierarchies. This is an important concepts in the sense that through the feudal systems, many country has seen the demolition of lower strata of the society. Most of the time feudal lords took the responsibility of exploiting their subjects. It has been seen that most of the villages were being burnt down and the villagers were beaten ruthlessly by the king’s men if they failed to meet the revenue.
The third class was being the peasants who were being exploited the most. The production that was made by peasants were purchased at high price and even in that middleman took most of the revenues that were raised from selling of crops as tax. Over that the king’s company would have asked for kind and cash revenue to the ruler. This is the most important aspects in the sense that this class were the most sufferer. In order to indulge the improvement of the whole system, the demolition of feudal system was necessary. Now in order to indulge the development of productivity, the collaboration among all social hierarchies are necessary.
The feudal system was introduced in England, with the advent of William I, The Conqueror. The feudal system had been used in France by the Normans from the time they first settled there in about 900AD. It was a simple, but effective system, where all land was owned by the King. One quarter was kept by the King as his personal property, some was given to the church and the rest was leased out under strict controls. The King was in complete control under the feudal system (at least nominally). He owned all the land in the country and decided to whom he would lease land. He therefore typically allowed tenants he could trust to lease land from him. However, before they were given any land they had to swear an oath of fealty to the King at all times. The men who leased land from the King were known as Barons, they were wealthy, powerful and had complete control of the land they leased from the King.
Barons took the land from the kings and were given the responsibility of renting the land. Barons leased land from the King that was known as a manor. They were known as the Lord of the Manor and were in complete control of this land. They established their own system of justice, minted their own money and set their own taxes. In return for the land they had been given by the King, the Barons had to serve on the royal council, pay rent and provide the King with Knights for military service when he demanded it. They also had to provide lodging and food for the King and his court when they travelled around his realm. The Barons kept as much of their land as they wished for their own use, then divided the rest among their Knights. Barons were very rich. This system even continued in the middle ages. Now most of the castes has been divided into many groups and justice was determined by that.
The shaping of mediaeval society and the opening up of the exploitation of lower level of subjects by the high status of the people is basically introduced strong autocracy. Now in order to indulge the development of resource based utility, it is important for the country to indulge the production that would have increased the improvement in the factors. This would have asked the development of better introduction of social castes and creeds that will definitely looking to benefit all the people living in the society. Through the incorporation of better amount of policies, the economic activities of the feudal lords were mainly looking to incorporate better amount of relationship with the lands. Through the introduction of better amount relationship the feudal lords wanted to extract major benefits and in return they would not have provided major amount of benefits. Now in order to increase the overall benefit of the social strata it is important for the medieval period of society to bring in better amount of policies.
Through the different ranks of fief-holders formed the aristocracy of medieval European society. A feudal kingdom was divided amongst several great “magnates” (leading nobles such as dukes and counts, who controlled large fiefs), who were the direct vassals of the king. These magnates had lesser barons as their vassals, and these in turn had the holders of individual knight’s fees as their vassals. Until the 9th or 10th centuries, this fief-holding was in theory for one lifetime only. It gradually became hereditary in practice, and from about 1000 was hereditary in law as well: fiefs were granted to a vassal and his heirs after him. Many rules and regulations have been identified to finalise the tantrums that has been incorporated in the business.
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