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Feudalism in Europe Essay

During the Middle Ages, countries fought and argued for land and pride. The main goal of the leaders of these countries was to dominate the land. With several countries fighting for one cause, there was no chance they would resolve their differences peacefully, often leading to wars and conflicts. Feudalism was the staple of the European government. Although it served medieval statesmen well, the social structure was incredibly unbalanced, which was the main reason for its downfall. The creation of this form of government is believed by researchers to have been back in the ninth century.

Its origins, however, were traced to the break up of centralization of the Roman Empire This means that even before the feudal provinces began to develop, evidence of feudal societies was being thought up. When the Roman Empire fell, it left many wealthy landowners spread throughout the European landscape. For every wealthy landowner, there were many poorer, less prominent ex-roman citizens.

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They decided therefore to commend themselves to landlords, surrendering to a lord in return for safety and the right to farm the properties. This was the beginning of the feudal nations. Other provinces would evolve, but for the most part, these were the more prominent countries. The children of the men who owned the land would inherit the land as well as any other property owned by their fathers. This tradition kept rich people rich and poor people poor.

People who exchanged their land for protection were shielded from opposing enemies by knights, infantrymen and horsemen. The vassal rendered to his lord certain services in addition to supplying his quota of armed knights. The primary defence for a lord was his knight. The knights formed the core of the lord’s household; many of them lived permanently within the castle walls and were fed and housed by him. Knights that were given homage by their lords did not really need any land but were still paid in fiefs, which were stretches of land paid to whomever. These household knights did not need a grant of land on which to live, though they often received it all the same.

This showed the favoritism the lords and kings felt and expressed to upper-class citizens. While the basic feudal system was working out fabulously for the higher-ranked officials, the peasants were getting short-changed from the very beginning. Peasants, who supported society by their hard and dirty work, were its feet. This is a perfect comparison as it shows that the peasants had to endure the dirtiest work while getting almost nothing in return.

For the poorest peasants, the threat of starvation was never far away, and there was seldom enough money for anything but the bare essentials of life. Low income for peasants was mainly due to high taxes and low wages. Officials in office had the exact opposite with high wages and low taxation. The basic social structure of the times was completely unbalanced. The higher statesmen appointed friends and relatives into positions of power based on a social scale, not by ability.

Those who fulfill official duties, whether civil or military, do so not for the sake of an abstract notion of the state or of public service but because of personal and freely accepted links with their lord. The system of appointing positions based on connections was unfair to lower-class people. Often friends of high-ranking officials would appoint friends that were corrupt and dishonest. A public authority becomes fragmented and decentralized is what happens when dishonest officials infest the offices of the feudal system. In 1215 King John issued the Magna Carta. When royalty tried to increase taxes on lords and barons, they revolted. A signed under duress by King John in 1215, was the result of baronial desire to bring royalty to heel and to uphold its own feudal obligations. King John issued the Magna Carta so other revolts would be held to a minimum. Rebellions among higher statesmen were the main cause the proposition was passed. This was one of the places where democracy began to form because it shows how fighting for something can lead to gaining it. This is a property democracy possesses.

When the leaders of nations recognized the size of middle-class society, they saw a great opportunity to cash in. Kings of France and England allied themselves with the middle class and with the merchants to obtain new sources of revenue. This new idea of joining up with middle-class people was a huge jump away from the conventional feudal cliché of kings and lords stepping on any class lower than the upper. In all actuality, this is definitely a move away from a feudalistic society, and more towards a democratic one. With time comes wisdom.

Wisdom comes from imagination, experimentation, and confirmation. This is true for many cultures, and the medieval culture is no exception. Medieval scholars managed to come up with an explosive powder that would detonate if it came in contact with fire or extreme heat. Advances in gunpowder and tactics brought warfare into a new age. New types of weapons and soldiers rendered others useless. This was a big step in shedding the old ways of a feudalistic society.

During the end of the feudalistic reign, an epidemic swept through Europe. This disease known as the Black Death was one of the final nails being hammered into the coffin which gripped feudalism. During the mid-1300s and on into the early 1400s this deadly disease brought peasants and noblemen alike to their knees. This epidemic killed off one-quarter of Europe’s total population. This disaster was a huge blow to the feudalisms entourage.

Although Feudalism held together for nearly ten centuries, the governmental setup was doomed from the start. Even though Feudalism was the staple of European government and although it served statesmen well, their pleasure was condemned by the pressure put on the lower class. Noblemen realized that in order to prosper, all classes must unite to create a strong profitable country. This sparked the fall of feudalism and set ablaze the path of modern times.

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Feudalism in Europe Essay. (2021, Apr 11). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from