The Feudal System : Kingship in the Middle AgesPosted: November 1, 2011
Although the feudal system can be deeply complicating, it can be explained simply like this. The feudal system was an organisation between people, where the higher person would give land to their lower person, in exchange for loyalty, and allegiance to them. Through this arrangement, feudalism spread throughout all society. This was an obligation between the king, lord, and vassal. In particular, this set of questions that you are about to read, is about the king in the middle ages.
Kingship in the Middle Ages
- How did they live their life?
- How did they become that level?
- What were their advantages and disadvantages?
How did they live their life?
The King lived their life with wealth, food, and almost all he could wish for, as he was the top of the top. As he couldn’t hold land all by himself, he gave most to his lords to accompany, and in return, the lords showed respect, dedication and allegiance to the king. Also, if he were to show his own lords that he was a powerful king, he had to start and lead many wars, while leading then to victory. This was because many people became wealthy enough to contest the king’s leadership and maybe take over his throne. This was a hard challenge for the noble to take up, but it was worth it.
The daily life of a king consisted of many things, normally in the same process. The king would normally wake up early, and start the day off with prayer, while going to the standard church services. Breakfast was consisted of a simple, light meal, which was regularly just bread and wine, and maybe a bit of meat. Next, he would then attend his council meetings, which consisted of discussing new laws, and hearing petitions.
This was what the king did until dinner time which was in fact eaten at around 11 o’clock am. It would contain at least two courses, having at least, beef, mutton, poultry, or eggs, that was served with onions, garlic, herbs, dried peas and many more things. This was also served with different fruit and vegetables, depending on the season.
After dinner, this was the start of their leisure time, which he would normally go out and hunt animals with dogs or hawks, and also with his friends. When he returned from the hunting trip, he would typically enjoy a bath, and change into some fresh, new cloths. Subsequently, the king would have his supper, which was a meal lighter than dinner, eaten at around 5-6 pm. After this, he would say his prayers, before his servants undressed him and got him ready for bed. This was normally the cycle when the king lived his life at home.
How did they become that level?
When the question of, “how do you become a king in the middle ages?” comes around, it turns out that it has played a lot throughout history. Many kings received this position, which triggered numerous controversies with many people.
Well, the rightful way of becoming a king, was through blood relation. The oldest son would inherit this prestigious position and takeover of what his father had achieved to do. The son was brought up in the same way his father was, which was accompanying his father in most of his activities and learning them. He could also raise his hand to become a noble knight, before taking over the throne. The child had to learn that taking over wasn’t an easy task to overcome, as to be a great king; one must have several abilities to do this. They must learn the qualities of leadership, social skills, combat and many more.
On the other hand, if there was no son to take over the king, this lead to brutal fights, bloody wars, and much desperation to see who was king. For instance, prior to the event of the great Battle of Hastings, the dying king, Edward the Confessor had already promised William of Normandy his kingship, because he had no son, was a blood relative, and Harold Godwinson was saved from a shipwreck by William and promised a sacred oath for William to be king. Unfortunately, this was not what Harold did. He irrespectively took over as king from Edward, and proclaimed it to Harold. And this was why William declared war on Harold.
There were also many cases of corruption for kingship, but this was soon stopped by The Magna Carta, on June the 15th, 1215, which was The Great Charter made by King John. This was a document often considered to be one of the first steps in the development of the United Kingdom. These were the ways of becoming a king in the middle ages.
What were their advantages and disadvantages?
As I have said before, being king is not all simple, straightforward, and effortless. There are many traits of holding the kingship, and as a result, has many advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few:
An advantage of kingship is that you are the top of your region that you are looking over. The king is the one that makes all the decisions, whether it is crime or laws, he decides whether it goes through in any circumstance. He also decides who to give land to, and who becomes one of his knights.
Secondly, the king gave his knights, a code of chivalry which was an ethical system that the king made, pertaining courtesy, honour, politeness, and bravery for people, especially to the king. The knights gave the king willingness to protect him.
A disadvantage was that the king made many enemies through conquering, the laws that he made, or maybe just because he became king. Numerous people will try and kill him, kill his family, or take over his sovereignty. This is a dreadful disadvantage to have, as it can cost you your life.
Although there are many advantages and disadvantages of being king, you would know that he would always try his best, as he was trained for the job since birth.
Thank you for reading.
By Andrew Loh 8B