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Feudalism as a Socio-Economic System in Medieval Europe

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Feudalism was the social system/hierarchy in medieval Europe which defined what the people were and their roles. The lowest class were the peasants who worked the land for the nobles and knights so that in return they would get protection. The third class of people were the knights who fought for the kings and nobles. The second class of people were the nobles who agreed with the lords to supply the king with soldiers and horses for his army to be strong. The nobles also gave some land to the professional knights for their efforts in wars and for protecting the king. The first and most important class is the king, he owned all the land in the country and made the rules for people to obey.

Feudalism began in the western side of Europe and developed around 800 C.E, from the leftover fragments of the Western Roman Empire. Feudalism happened as central authority was unable to perform its functions, this prevented the rise of other local’s powers, this caused the organization to form. When the Western Roma Empire fell in 476 C.E., it made a state of chaos, that enclosed the Western Europe for many centuries. The people who lived in the western countries had needed some sort of political system for them to defend themselves. The people had voted and thus feudalism was created. The system was to account for all aspects of the society. When feudalism was created it, made the king have the ultimate power. The king had owned a large amount of land mass and had leased it to the people that were called vassals. The only catch that they had sworn to an oath, remaining faithful to the king all the time. The vassals were wealthy, powerful but not as powerful as the king, and had complete control of the land that was be trusted to them. They always had to stay with the king, while providing shelter and food to him, when he travelled across the country.

Feudalism didn’t bring order to Europe because it was still unfair, they placed the nobles on top of peasants and then slaves and so on. It provided safety to the king then nobles. The peasants and slaves didn’t have much protection. It brought minimal security to most of the people in Europe. The Knights were part of the safety but didn’t need too much because they were fighters. Most people probably thought that this statement was true because the royals, kings and the nobles all lived longer than the peasants and slaves. If there was a war to happen the rest of the community would have been left for themselves while the king, royals and knights would have been taken away in horses and protected by guards. I disagree with this statement because although feudalism brought order, security and safety to Europe, it doesn’t protect most of the population of Europe such as peasants, slaves and merchants.

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The feudal system exists to tell the difference between everyone’s status. Back then, it was important for the citizens to be able to tell the difference between a rich and poor person. Equality wasn’t a big deal in the medieval times. Women didn’t have the same rights as men. Women could have been a wife, mother, peasant, artisan, and nun, as well as some important leadership roles, such as abbess or queen regnant. Roles were made to keep the kingdom in check. If there weren’t any roles, then everything would be a big mess.

The different feudal system classes were as followed: the kings and queens at the top-most position, followed by barons, bishops, knights and then peasants. The lord would have owned the lands and everything in it. They would keep the peasants safe and give them land in exchange for their service. They would then go on to provide the king with soldiers and taxes.

The kings would be the overseers of giving out land to nobles that pledged thier loyalty to them by either battling and dying for them or serving them in other ways. When a king would die, the eldest son would take over the throne. When one certain family stayed in power for a long period of time, it was known as a ‘dynasty’. Bishops were the top church leaders and managed an area that was called a Diocese. The church also received 10% of the tithe from people, making them quite wealthy. Barons and nobles were in control of big lands called ‘fiefs’. They were the people who reported straight to the king, making them quite powerful. They’re jobs were to maintain an army under the king’s service. The lords ran manors and could be knights that were called into battle at any time. The lords owned everything on their land including peasants, crops and villages.

Some changes that we would make in the feudal system would be to make the roles fairer. Kings and queens are supposed to be treated with high respect but people at lower levels of the feudal system like peasants shouldn’t be treated like slaves. The reasons why we think that peasants should be treated with more fairness, is because they didn’t choose that life. You were either born in a rich family or poor one. Peasants should get more opportunities in sports, social activities and jobs.



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Feudalism as a Socio-Economic System in Medieval Europe. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 6, 2023, from
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