Decline of Feudalism notes Name Mrs. Alls

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Decline of Feudalism notes

Name __Mrs. Alls___
Perhaps the most important factor in the decline of feudalism was common people gaining more power. In the cause-and-effect chart below, fill in four cases that led to the effect of common people having more power.

After the plague and the Hundred Years’ War, fewer workers were available, so those who remained had more power.

New military technology made nobles’ castles less useful.

Common people gain power.

Nobles lost power as kings no longer need them to supply soldiers, and common people gained power as nobles’ power declined.

Barons forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, which identified liberties.

Many important events, such as the bubonic plague, took place in England in the 12th through 15th Centuries. Choose three key historical events from this period to put on the spectrum below. Order the three events from the one you believe is least significant to the one you believe is most significant. Label each event, explain why put these events in the order you did, and create a simple drawing to represent it.

Possible choices: the plague, trial by jury, the signing of the Magna Carta, the Model Parliament, the Hundred Years’ War, or the increasing power of the common people.



________________________ ___________________________ __________________________

Most significant event

Least significant event

Political Developments in England

  • What changes did the Magna Carta bring about in English government?

A king could no longer collect special taxes without the consent of the barons and church officials. “No free man” could be jailed except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land. It also introduced the idea that not even the king was above the law.

  • How did these political developments in England contribute to the decline of feudalism in Europe?

These political changes strengthened royal authority at the expense of nobles and strengthened the rights of common people. The Magna Carta limited the power of English monarchs; Henry II’s legal reforms strengthened common law, judges; and Edward I’s Model Parliament gave a voice to common people.

  • What does Magna Carta mean?

a. Great Charter

b. Important deed

c. Freedom for all

d. Rule of the chosen

  • What was the name of the Document that King John was forced to sign limiting the power of the King?

a. Declaration of Independence

b. Parliamentary procedures

c. Constitution

d. Magna Carta

A widow, on the death of her husband, may have her marriage portion and inheritance without difficulty…. She may remain in her husband’s house for forty days after her husband’s death, within which time her dower (property from a marriage) shall be assigned to her.

No widow shall be compelled (forced) to marry, so long as she wishes to live without a husband; provided she does not marry without consent.


  • What right did a woman have after her husband died?

a. to live in his home until her death

b. to inherit all of his possessions

c. to make all her own decisions

d. to live in his house for forty days.

  • If a widow wished to remarry, she was required to:

a. request permission

b. enter a convent

c. give up her inheritance

d. leave her husband’s home.

The Bubonic Plague

  • Many workers died during the plague. How did their deaths affect those who remained?

a) They were able to demand better pay and more rights.

b) They were forced to return to a feudal economy.

c) They could no longer live in cities, so they moved to farms.

d) They were able to buy their own businesses and get rich.

  • How did the bubonic plague spread from Asia to Europe?

a. Trade routes on land

b. Around the northern coast of Africa

c. Across the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea

d. It never entered Europe.


The mortality in Siena began in May. It was a cruel and horrible thing; and I do not know where to begin to tell of the cruelty and the pitiless ways. It seemed that almost everyone became stupefied by seeing the pain. And it is impossible for the human tongue to recount the awful truth. Indeed, one who did not see such horribleness can be called blessed. And the victims died almost immediately. They would swell beneath the armpits and in their groin and fall over while talking. Father abandoned child, wife, husband, one brother another; for this illness seemed to strike through breath and sight. And so they died. And none could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship. Members of a household brought their dead to a ditch as best they could without priests, without divine offices. Nor did the death bell sound. And in many places in Siena great pits were dug and piled deep with the multitude of dead. And they died by the hundreds, both day and night and all were thrown in those ditches and covered with earth. And as soon as those ditches were filled, more were dug. And I Agnolo di Tura…buried my five children with my own hands…And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world.

-- Agnolo di Tura 1347

  • Why would the author of the above document state in line four—“Indeed, one who did not see such horribleness can be called blessed.”

a. He felt like the plaque helped the over-populated areas.

b. He felt like the doctors should have done more for those who survived.

c. The author felt it was a blessing when people died and did not have to witness the horrors and death

caused from the plaque.

d. He felt that Siena was the best place for people to live.

  • What started the bubonic plaque?

a. Fleas from Rats

b. Infected cattle

c. Flu

d. Drought

After the …pestilence (disease) many buildings of all sizes in every city fell into total ruin for want of inhabitants. Likewise, many villages and hamlets were deserted, with no house remaining in them, because everyone who had lived there was dead, and indeed many of these villages were never inhabited again. In the following winter there was such a lack of workers in all areas of activity that it was thought that there had hardly ever been such a shortage before; for a man’s farm animals and other livestock wandered about without a shepherd and all his possessions were left unguarded. And as a result all essentials were so expensive that something which had previously cost 1d (pence or penny) was now worth 4d or 5d.

Historian Henry Knighton, c. 1388

  • What happened to many villages after the Black Death?

a. They were burned down.

b. Everyone who lived there had died.

c. Many people were unemployed.

d. They recovered quickly.

  • What happened to farm animals during the Black Death?

a. They were taken in by the government.

b. They wandered about with no one to care for them.

c. They died in their barns.

d. They died before the humans did.

  • How did the outbreak of plague in the 14th Century contribute to the decline of feudalism in Europe?

After the plague, power shifted from nobles to common people because the workers who remained could demand higher pay and more rights. Many serfs abandoned feudal manors and moved to towns and cities, seeking better opportunities. This weakened both the manor system and feudal lords.
The Hundred Years’ War

  • Why were the English able to defeat the French in early battles, such as the one at Crecy?

The English army relied on archers armed with longbows. Arrows fired from longbows flew farther faster, and more accurately than those fired from French crossbows.

  • Joan of Arc was accused of being which of the following?

a. Murderer

b. Witch

c. Thief

d. Traitor

  • What was Joan of Arc’s punishment?

a. She was beheaded.

b. She faced a firing squad.

c. She was burned at the stake.

d. She died in prison.

  • How did the war contribute to the decline of feudalism?

The war shifted power from lords to monarchs and common people. Military technology used in the war made knights and castles less useful. Also, a new feeling of nationalism helped to shift power away from lords toward kings.

  • Both the plague and the Hundred Years’ War had what effect?

a. They weakened the central governments of European nations.

b. They led to a shift in power from feudal lords to common people and monarchs.

c. They led to an increase in trade with countries in Asia.

d. They encouraged the development of capitalism in European nations.
Review Questions

  • The term feudalism means __________.

a. feuds between aristocratic families that had become a social norm.

b. a political and social order that was highly centralized.

c. the king's power being completely overthrown by the local lords.

d. a term that has fallen out of favor among historians.

  • Mountains and Rivers shaped European culture by:

a. separating cultures from one another c. allowing one group to dominate

b. leading to devastating weather d. inspiring artists.

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