“The Feudal System”
The feudal system was a political, military, and economic system based on the holding of land. The system was developed since the whole entire basis of rule from all the civilizations before the Middle Ages was lost. Early Europe was in desperate need of such a system since they were constantly being raided by the Vikings and other outsiders.
Man was lonely during the Middle Ages. Life was very harsh and everyone worked except the king. The usual life expectancy was 35. People lived in small farming communities. Everyone lived in constant fear of being raided by foreign invaders such as the Vikings. When they were not worrying about being invaded they were scared of plague and other living conditions. Man’s position in the world was unknown. Knowledge, wealth, and governing body had to be recreated. Cities were far and few between and much less populated and developed like today’s cities. The Middle Ages was a religious age. Man clung to God as creator. People painstakingly built churches. Religion was what was the most important to people for a long time, and to be excommunicated was horrible.
As time progressed the feudal system was created. It was designed to divide the lands and protect from attack. The king first gave a fief or a piece of land to a royal vassal. As proof for this exchange in land a vassal would swear to the lord to be his man all the days of his life and protect him against “all men who may live or die.” Next came investiture. Investiture was a symbolic gesture when a King or a lord presented a royal vassal or a vassal a stick, a small rod, or a clod of earth to show that he has given him a fief. Now this royal vassal was in charge of a huge piece of land. In order to defend it he would then divide his land into smaller pieces. He would take these smaller pieces and give them to warriors or who agreed to be his own vassals. Thus, the royal vassal became a lord to other vassals. The vassals now under this lord would now divide their lands and grant fiefs to warriors of their own. Last in the dividing of land was the knight whose parcel of land was too small to be divided.
Everyone in the feudal system worked except the king. A lord could demand 40 days of battle from his knights in a time of war. During peacetime a vassal had to hold courts of justice, charge tolls on bridges, collect taxes, and much more. A peasant lived on a manor or a small estate from which the lord’s family gained everything it needed. A peasant farmed the land and did lots of jobs for the lord. Serfs were kind of the same as a peasant except at birth they were bound to the land and could not leave. A free peasant might have become a serf if a bad harvest took place in exchange for bread and protection.
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