Feudalism Essay, Research Paper
Feudalism was a way of governing where the king allowed upper class nobility to use land, also called fiefs, in return for the loyalty to him. Feudalism began around 450 AD after German invaders had conquered Rome. It originated between the Rhine and Loire rivers, and soon spread to Italy, England, Most of central and Easter Europe and even the Holy land.
Monarchs needed to have large armies of mounted troops to protect them. This is where feudalism came in. It was a contractual agreement between the upper classes in which a Lord let his men utilize his land in return for military service. Later feudalism involved more of a political relationship between Lord and Vassal.
The relationship between a Lord and his Vassal was one of loyalty. This relationship was a cure for medieval anarchy because it helped keep conduct between the different social levels and brought peace to a chaotic time. People of different social classes had relationships with each other.
Vassal and Lords had pledges to each other. This was not a written but verbal contract called “the oath of fealty”. This oath involved the younger lord or vassal to promise to support and be loyal to the older lord. The vassal was to provide monetary support and advice on any matter the senior lord deemed necessary. If the vassal did a satisfactory job, the land was passed down to their heirs.
If the vassal kept up his part of the deal, the lord in return was obligated to see to the vassal’s happiness and well-being. He could not unfairly tax or take land from the vassal. He could not mistreat of kill his vassals. If a lord broke the oath, their agreement was considered void and the vassal was free to attack the older lord in retaliation. The vassal could declare independence and were free to keep their lands or become vassals to another lord. The oath was usually sworn at a church in God’s name over a holy artifact: Therefore, the Christian church held sanctions against breaking the oath of fealty. If a vassal broke the oath they would have their land taken away.
Feudalism began its decline near the end of the 13th century.