When did feudalism begin with Differences Rights duties and end

Feudal lord

The feudal lord was part of a regime of socio-political organization that existed in medieval times throughout Western Europe and to the East in the Modern Era . In this article we will provide you the information about When did feudalism begin?

This system, called feudalism , was purely rural in principle, and its peculiarity was the delivery of a fiefdom by the feudal lord to the vassal in exchange for certain compensation. A bilateral contract was established where both had to comply with reciprocal obligations. For his part, the feudal lord owed allegiance to the king or monarch . The power of the feudal lord was a private power, that is, it did not depend on the organization of a State; he had direct power over his subjects, who owed him loyalty in exchange for protection.

What was a feudal lord

The feudal lord was the one who possessed power in the feudal system and acted as administrator of the land. He was above the vassals with whom they exchanged allegiances. The feudal lord was in the duty of giving land and offices to the vassal, while the latter promised to provide political-military support and to pay the required tributes.

Although the vassals were under the subordination of the feudal lords, the former were free men and were not serfs or slaves . In feudalism there was also the figure of the servant, these were peasants dominated by the lords, who in addition to loyalty, had to pay an income to the lord. This income was given in the form of products first and later in money ; they also had to work some days of the week on the lord’s lands. Thus, the lord benefited from the work of the majority and obtained an economic profit from the sale of the products that the serfs produced.

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It was during the Carolingian Empire ⁴ when feudalism arose , in the period that includes the 6th and 9th centuries. The monarchs offered their lands to the nobles (feudal lords). These areas of land were named according to the noble title of the lord, if they belonged to a count they were known as counties and if they belonged to a marquis it was a mark.

The reason that the monarchs separated the territory into fiefdoms was in order to protect their dominions in case of enemy invasions. It must be remembered that at the beginning of the Middle Ages , Christian Europe was threatened by Slavic peoples, by the Arabs to the south and the Ottoman Empire to the east. The entire period that includes the Middle Ages is marked by a high level of violence. The military route was the resolution of conflicts and disputes. During this period the most important thing is the land: alliances and military conquest were the ways to achieve it.

Tribute ceremony for vassalage relations

The ties that existed between the feudal lord and the vassal were known as vassalage relationships . Officials were made through the tribute ceremony and it turned out to be a solemn act. In this celebration, the vassal had to kneel before the feudal lord and swear fidelity and obedience to him. He placed his hands on those of the feudal lord and declared “his man.” The lord was also to expose an oath of obedience to the monarch, of whom he himself was a vassal.

Differences between feudal lord, vassal and servant

To make the terms clear, it is important to differentiate them properly.

  • Feudal lord – An individual who held a noble title (he was part of the nobility ). He had a fiefdom and had a lot of power.
  • Vassal – Free man and usually also a nobleman who received the fief from the lord. He had to pay a tribute and it was the military political support of the feudal lord.
  • Servant – It was of the common people. He was obliged to give his services to the feudal lord and give him part of the work they did and they were not free to buy and sell land.

Rights and privileges of the feudal lord

The feudal lords had many rights and privileges. They possessed almost unlimited power with respect to their lands . When they received these lands, they were granted rights over those who inhabited them. In this way they could have a serfdom relationship, which was the one that existed between the feudal lord and the serfs of the lands.

One of the most curious privileges of the feudal lords and about which there are still many theories, is the so-called right of pernada  . It was the right that every feudal lord possessed to enjoy sexually the vassals who marry, during that same wedding night. His privileged position made it the feudal lord who caused the loss of virginity of this woman. On this controversial right, there are many ideas and positions. For certain historians the right was settled when the feudal lord received a payment from the woman’s husband. We must remember that we are facing a markedly patriarchal society, where the center of the family unit is man.

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Apart from the rights and privileges that the feudal lord possessed , he also had to fulfill some obligations. The basic obligation that the lord had to fulfill with great attention was to absolutely obey the king who was at that time on the throne, since he depended on the monarchy. It was this that gave him the fiefdom and by extension the power over land and peasants. However, feudalism is characterized by the dissemination of power, that is, by the cracking of the dome of power held by the king. Thus, the feudal lords, who are in contact with the territory, manage to obtain greater autonomy.

The end

Feudalism was at its peak between the 12th and 13th centuries , when it finally spread to all of society. A closed class system is organized that had a pyramidal structure, where there were privileged classes ( nobility and clergy ) to whom the king offered fiefdoms. Below were the free serfs and peasants, who lived in a situation of total subordination to the feudal lord.

As time passed, the feudal system began to deteriorate and began to give way to more current social and economic systems . Cavalry disappeared as new military techniques emerged, such as cannons and firearms. Obligations of a military nature began to be paid with metallic money and not with land, as was often the case. Private relationships centered on commercial operations began to emerge , a new logic emerged within society that put money at the center. It is here where capitalism begins to take shape, a system in which we currently live.

Reasons why the feudal lord’s image was weakened

At the end of the Middle Ages, the position of the feudal lords became increasingly weak for several reasons:

  • Several epidemics caused the death of many, decreasing the peasant population. This phenomenon affected the collection of taxes on the part of the feudal lord.
  • Throughout the fourteenth century, economic activity increased in the cities and a large number of peasants left their activities in the rural area.
  • A growing unease was aroused among peasants, as they demanded to be owners of their lands and not be subject to a lord.

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