Feudal System – Emily SalloumPosted: June 9, 2012
What is the Feudal System?
The Feudal System is a system that was developed to help stabilize Europe. The system was mainly a personal agreement between two people. Kings, Dukes and Nobles all had to raise an army, which the Feudal system assisted. It was the basis by which the upper nobility class maintained control over the lower classes.
Tracts of land were granted by the King or Lord who gave the land to a lesser Lord, by doing this they became the latter’s overlord. The receiver became the Vassal of the overlord. In return for the overlord giving the Vassal land, they had to pay them homage and fealty. The overlords Vassal was obligated to fight for the overlord for a certain amount of time. If the Vassal had his own Vassals, then they also were obligated to fight.
A Vassal had more than one responsibility; sitting on the Lords court to judge the guilt or innocence of other Vassals might have been another responsibility.
The Feudal system was a complicated system that was the basis by which the upper nobility class maintained control over the lower classes.
When was the Feudal System introduced to England and how did that change the governance of the country?
When the Roman Empire fell, there was no form of central government until King Charlemagne came to rule. King Charlemagne ruled from 768 – 814.
While Charlemagne was King, western Europe was stable, but the death of Charlemagne led to another breakdown in central government as there was no one to keep his empire together. The lack of central government led to the development of the Feudal system.
The Feudal System was introduced following the battle of Hastings in 1066 by William the Conqueror. William became the King of England after he won the Battle of Hastings. Being the King, he was able to introduce new Laws and there was new government over England.
The governance of England was dramatically changed because of William. It was such a dramatic change because William was from France, so the languages were different, he introduced the Feudal System which was a new form of law and stability and he had also promised his men wealth and rich pickings.
As you can imagine, William being the King, changed the governance of England very much.
Why weren’t the peasants involved in the Feudal System?
Kings, powerful Lords and lesser Nobles were all involved in the Feudal System. All of these people were considered Warriors. Warriors were people who went out on raids and fought for their lives and for their people.
The peasantry were the only people who were not considered as warriors. Therefore, peasants were not involved in the Feudal System.
Peasants were also the lowest class of nobility. This means that they were below all of the other classes, and no one below them. Because of this, they could not have a Vassal, or be an overlord if they were involved in the Feudal System, so it would be unfair to make them Vassals when they themselves could not have their own Vassals.
This is why the peasants were not involved in the Feudal System.
What responsibilities did the Vassals have?
The responsibilities of Vassals varied depending on their overlord. A Vassals overlord would become the Vassals overlord at a ceremony with the King. At this ceremony, the overlord would inform the Vassal of his duties.
The Vassal would have responsibilities such as serving his lord in battle (when the Lord went to battle against someone, the Vassal would have to fight as well), providing food and shelter for the overlord when needed, and sometimes he also had to sit on the Lords court where he would judge the guilt or innocence of another Vassal.
In the case of a visit from his overlord, the Vassal was responsible for providing food and shelter for his lord and all of his party. The Vassal also had to pay the Arson demanded if his lord was unfortunate enough to be captured by an enemy.
These were some of the responsibilities of a Vassal.
What happened if a Vassal was serving more than one overlord?
In the rare case that a Vassal was serving more that one lord, there was not much of a problem. The Vassal would just continue his duties as a Vassal, serving both lords.
This would result in a problem only if the two overlords that the Vassal was serving both went to war or went to war against each other. If both lords were fighting against different people, the Vassal would have to provide some of his own Vassals to fight for one lord and he would fight for the other.
If both lords went to battle against each other, the Vassal would have to serve both lords again by sending some of his own Vassals to fight for one lord, while he fights for the other lord.
This is what happened if a Vassal was serving more than one lord.
The History book