In his log, Darwin wrote:
Mounted soldiers began to secure a system of hereditary rule over their allocated land and their power over the territory came to encompass the social, political, judicial, and economic spheres.
Only when the infrastructure existed to maintain unitary power—as with the European monarchies—did feudalism begin to yield to this new power structure and eventually disappear. A lord was in broad terms a noble who held land, a vassal was a person who was granted possession of the land by the lord, and the land was known as a fief.
In exchange for the use of the fief and the protection of the lord, the vassal would provide some sort of service to the lord. There were many varieties of feudal land tenureconsisting of military and non-military service. The obligations and corresponding rights between lord and vassal concerning the fief form the basis of the feudal relationship.
This was done at a formal and symbolic ceremony called a commendation ceremonywhich was composed of the two-part act of homage and oath of fealty. During homage, the lord and vassal entered into a contract in which the vassal promised to fight for the lord at his command, whilst the lord agreed to protect the vassal from external forces.
Fealty comes from the Latin fidelitas and denotes the fidelity owed by a vassal to his feudal lord. Such an oath follows homage. The vassal's principal obligation to the lord was to "aid", or military service.
Using whatever equipment the vassal could obtain by virtue of the revenues from the fief, the vassal was responsible to answer calls to military service on behalf of the lord. This security of military help was the primary reason the lord entered into the feudal relationship.
In addition, the vassal could have other obligations to his lord, such as attendance at his court, whether manorial, baronial, both termed court baronor at the king's court. At the level of the manor this might be a fairly mundane matter of agricultural policy, but also included sentencing by the lord for criminal offences, including capital punishment in some cases.
Concerning the king's feudal court, such deliberation could include the question of declaring war. These are examples; depending on the period of time and location in Europe, feudal customs and practices varied; see examples of feudalism.
The "Feudal Revolution" in France[ edit ] In its origin, the feudal grant of land had been seen in terms of a personal bond between lord and vassal, but with time and the transformation of fiefs into hereditary holdings, the nature of the system came to be seen as a form of "politics of land" an expression used by the historian Marc Bloch.
The 11th century in France saw what has been called by historians a "feudal revolution" or "mutation" and a "fragmentation of powers" Bloch that was unlike the development of feudalism in England or Italy or Germany in the same period or later: Power in this period became more personal.
In response to this, the idea of a " liege lord " was developed where the obligations to one lord are regarded as superior in the 12th century. Abolition of feudalism in France Feudalism effectively ended by about Vestiges of the Feudal system hung on in France until the French Revolution, and the system lingered on in parts of Central and Eastern Europe as late as the s.
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