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The Feudal System of Medieval Europe

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At the beginning of the Middle Ages, Europe was split into small regions controlled by local lords and each of the lords had their collection of rules to follow; this also led to a lot of strife and chaos. The most influential monarch during this period was a Frankish King called Charlemagne, whose empire covered most of Western and Central Europe. Feudalism became the early and central Middle Ages most defining and important element. During this era, feudalism was Western Europe’s social, fiscal, and political system. Feudalism permeated every part of civilization and agriculture in the early middle ages, influencing everything from king-lord relationships to how farmers produced and sold their crops. The person of a higher standing of society would provide security and patronage. In return, the lower-level individual gave allegiance and agreed to provide their income, such as crops or a part of the received funds.

The King

The king is at the top of the social hierarchy; as a ruler, he assigned his servants such as ministers, barons, etc. to do the daily work of collecting taxes, supervising the workers and lead prayers. The king owns all the land yet he cannot manage it all. He provides land to the barons only if he trusts them. The kings retained this land as ‘divine right’ for what they thought was, the freedom to rule given by God and only carried on by heredity. The king ruled the whole kingdom and owned the whole country, yet the king was physically unable to govern any aspect of his vast empire by himself. The segments of the land granted upon nobles by the King, normally provided for duty in war or certain respects, were called fiefs. The scale of the fiefs differed. There were small estates only large enough to sustain a knight and his family. Others were really large, made up of entire countries or regions. The King also gave land to the less powerful troops, the knights, who’d been named the vassals. The king had full control and influence of his kingdom so that he could do what he wished. This meant that often the land could be granted to a nobleman who vowed his allegiance to the monarch. Often, however, it meant holding the estate in the family and handing it over to its successors, close to the way that Charlemagne separated his estate.

The Nobles/Barons

The tenants-in-chief or sometimes called barons is the second-highest position in the feudal system’s social hierarchy. These citizens were given preference to obtaining land from the King as they were pledged their allegiance. They were supplying money and knights to the subordinate in exchange for obtaining land. Often recognised as Barons, Nobles and Lords became the tenants-in-chief. They were then given to the Knights out of their portion of land, and they would be paying in exchange for a service. They had the burden of administering the fief and taking care of the financial side of the bargain after turning over the property to a knight or someone else, although they did not do any physically hard job. Regardless of their position and function in the feudal system, they were strong since the armies were under their authority, and they even fought many wars against other nobles to assert ownership of a territory.

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In the feudal system, the knights fell under the lords of the social hierarchy. Knights were trained cavalry mounted soldiers, some of whom were land-occupying vassals of the lords whose armies they supported. Since fealty and allegiance were core aspects of feudalism, after a commendation ceremony intended to establish a permanent relationship between a vassal and his lord, the fief was awarded to a Knight. The knight will pledge obedience to his lord — Oath of Fealty. The Fealty Oath was the lord’s vow of faithful service. Most knights were of modest beginnings, most of them not even owning property, but they were considered part of the aristocracy by the later knights of the twelfth century (Feudalism: Rights Responsibilities, 2020) and enforced a system of courteous knightly actions called chivalry. The boy is sent to the house of another knight or lord at the early age of 7, they are bestowed the title ‘page’. They were taught proper manners and religion during this period, and how to read, write and speak both French and Latin. A page became a squire, at the age of 14. The squire was a knight’s apprentice handling the mail of the knight, serving his dinner, feeding his horse, and washing his weapons. In addition to carrying out their duties in the lord’s household, squires learned to be a knight in the martial arts. Squires have used bulky armour to get used to the weight and using weapons. The Squire served in this role for seven years and became a Knight at the age of twenty-one.

The Peasants

The peasants and serfs remain at the root of the feudal-system social hierarchy. They were the poorest, and they had an incredibly rough and challenging lifestyle. Many of the inhabitants on a feudal manor were peasants who spent their whole life working in the fields as farmers. The peasants were responsible for farming the land and supplying food supply to the whole empire. They were either expected to serve the knight in exchange for property or to pay the rent for the estate. They seemed to have no privileges and they were not permitted to marry without their Lords’ approval. in the fields, they generally worked together, mostly on jobs such as ploughing. For each family, the peasants divided the land into small stripes. Everybody, therefore, got a share of the good land and the badland. Usually, a fief required thousands of peasant families to hold it, produce crops and raise livestock. Peasants had rough lives and not much privilege, but they were not the lowest. The menial jobs called serfs were beneath the peasants. They came similar to becoming prisoners while also having a small amount of freedom.


Feudalism was medieval Europe’s governmental, social, and political structure and significantly impactedsociety, spanning from how a country was operated, to people’s responsibilities and rights. One of the feudalism’s principal characteristics was its social hierarchy. The King who ruled all of the land in the Kingdom was on the top of the social hierarchy. As it was difficult for a king to hold possession over all his subjects, he granted, or assigned, pieces over his estate to noble whom he trusted, called fiefs. The nobles remained loyal to the king but they were in possession on their freedom. Nobles, also knows as Manor Lords, could also divvy the land to Knights who provided military protection in return for property. The Knight was obedient to the Lord who had been loyal to the King. They would defend the land and the lord from outside invaders, and their Lords could ever outline them into combat at any moment. The peasants remained under the knights. The peasants, who were responsible for cultivationg and raising live stocks, rented land from either the lord or the knights. The serfs who wereessentially slaves were at the bottom of the hierarchy. However, they did have some freedom than slaves, but they were tied to the lord as well as to the land they worked for life. Such loyalties and bonds of the social hierarchy of the feudal system comply with the privileges and obligations of the citizens of mediaeval Europe.


  1. Feudalism: Rights and Responsibilities. (2020). Feudalism. [online] Available at [Accessed 5 Sep. 2020].
  2. Feudalism: Rights and Responsibilities. (2020). The King. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2020].
  3. Feudalism: Rights and Responsibilities. (2020). Nobles. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2020].
  4. Feudalism: Rights and Responsibilities. (2020). Knights. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2020].
  5. Feudalism: Rights and Responsibilities. (2020). Peasants. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2020].

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