Development of Feudalism in Europe

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Development of Feudalism in Europe

We know:
Rome Divided by Diocletian 295 [2 Emperors, 2 Augusti]

Constantine Re Unites Empire 312 A.D., makes Christian

Constantine moves Imperial Residence Constantinople

Visigoth Alaric Sacks Rome 410, leaves.

Romans leave Britain early 5th, troubled

Angles and Saxons Invade Britain mid 5th

Vandals invade Rome by ship from Carthage 455

Rome Falls Completely to Visigoth Odovacar 476

Eastern Roman Empire Remains  Constantinople [Caesaropopism]

Western Church Separates from Empire, goes underground:


monasteries [renounce world]

Monte Cassino 521

York [Northumbria]664

hope in chaos

Clovis of Gaul converted by Missionary 481

Ethelred and Warriors converted Canterbury 597

6thh to 10th centuries, chaos in Europe

Viking Invasions [5 6 and 9 10]

Roman Authority Lost

Islamic Conquests [632  ]

Breakdown of Cities
But: Charles Martel [The Hammer] stops Saracen Tours 732

Pepin the Short his son Annointed by Pope in Gaul

Charlemagne his Grandson 763 814 Frankland

Charlemagne fought Viking Invasions

Charlemagne deeply Christian

Charlemagne a Warrior King

Charlemagne Asked by Pope Leo to Save Him 799

Charlemagne Crowned Holy Roman Emperor 800 A.D.

Charlemagne brought Artists, Scholars to Court

Charlemagne Began School system

Charlemagne had Monks Translating Latin

Charlemagne dies, empire divided Verdun 843

Fighting, chaos.

Developed 8,9,10. Heights 10th and 11th

12 and 13th: Kings and Royal Power Back in Europe

Why it developed:

1. Germanic Invasions

2. Stirrup leads to Calvarly tactics

3. No money in Europe, only land
Why it ended:

1. Revival of town life

2. Revival of prosperity

3. Crusades

4. Strong Monarchies more efficient

5. Re introduction of Infantry tactics

Feudalism developed differently in England, France, and Germany, because each country responded to Germanic invasions differently.

1. England became Unified under Royal Power [Germanic]

2. France [Gaul, Frankland] became Chaotic

3. Germany developed Centralized feudalism after Duchies




a. system of land for service


a. system of subordination

Shortage of Money

Viking Invasions in 8th, 9th, 10th

Cavalry [Chivalry Cheval]
1. France, unlike England, to big for Vikings to occupy.

a. had to raid, plunder

2. Because of Viking raids, king powerless. Local

warriors become predominant. Military Responsibility

becomes a local function, though locals loyal to king.

a. Vassalage linked with Warrior Code

b. Warrior Code: Comitatus

c. Vassalage: Service for Land [no money]:

[Benefice or Fief]

d. Charled Martel linked two, confiscating church property

3. Resting on Labour of Peasants, Knights developed:

a. In response to need for local defense

b. Result of New Calvalry Warfare [stirrup]
4. The knight:

a. No labour

b. collected dues from peasants

c. pledged allegiance to King

1. allegiance broke with weak kings]

d. Administered Justice, had courts.

e. Collected taxes in kind

f. built castles

g. assumed responsibilities for defense

h. lived off peasants, protected them

1. Notion of reciprocal rights

and obligations strong

i. Vassals had Vassals too.

1. Lead to heirarchy organized

around landed knightly aristocracy.

2. Feudal Anarchy, Disintegration


I, John of Toul, affirm that I am the vassal of the Lady Beatrice, countess of Troyes, and of her son Theobald, count of Champagne, against every creature living or dead, excepting my allegiance to Lord Enjourand of Coucy, Lord John of Arcis, and the count of Grandpre. It it should happen that the count of Grandpre shhould be at war wwith the Countess and count of Champagne in his own quarrel, I will aid the count of Grandpre in my own person, and will aid the countess of Champagne by sending them the knights whose services I owe them from the fief which I hold from them.

Feudalism, then, was this system of a vassal being paid in land for his service to a king, because the king was not strong enought to defende his kingdom. The Vassal owned the land and the people on it, made laws, controlled and protected them, recieved taxes from them. Often, the knight, or lord, also had a religious house under his protection. So, medieval society during the Feudal era can be sad to have been divided into three kinds of people:

1. those who fight [10%]

2. those who toil [80%]

3. those who pray [10%]

A knight in the 9,10, and 11th, was a rough hewn warrior, wearing simple armour, riding a simple, powerful horse, and living in a wooden castle. A hard life.

Yet in 12th and 13th, with

a. revival of commerce

b. revival of royal or monarchical power

c. invention of the English longbow

The Feudal knight, becoming obsolete,


a. elaborate armour

b. courtly phrases

c. troubadour tradition

d. Fairy tale castles
From 8th century Beowulf to 14th century Sir Gawain
1050 1300 High Middle Ages, the end of Feudalism:

1. End of Invasions:

a. Vikings gradually Christianized

b. Mohammedens stopped

c. Hungarians in East stopped [ger]

2. Political Stability Regained:

a. Monarchy more efficient at war, law,

protection, order, administration

3. Military Tactics Changed:

a. English Longbow could penetrate armour. Foot soldiers better than

those on horseback, in heavy armour
4. Increased Food Production makes for Prosperity:

a. 3 Field system

b. Invention of Windmills

c. Water Mills [1086, 5000 in England]

d. Heavy wheeled plow

e. The horshoe

f. Improved Horse collar

g. Tandem Harness

5. Quickening of Commerce:

a. Rise in Population

b. More Capital fron International


c. Return of City Life, Occupations:

1. Arts, crafts, bankers, guilds

d. Military Expansion [Crusades]

e. New Active Religious Enthusiasm

1. Pilgrimages

2. Gregory VII [Refomr Pope]

3. Franciscan Monks

4. Crusades

5. Great Gothic Cathedrals

f. Intensification of Intellectual Activity:

1. First Universities

In the Past, towns were always Economic Parasites [Rome, Athens], consuming more than they produced. But in 11th century, towns became real Commercial Enterprises:

1. Merchants

2. Industrial Activities

Towns usually started outside an old fortress, which in German was called a "burgh." By the 12th century, the town itself instead of the fortress, was referred to as the burgh, or "burough." Burough's were inhabited by "burghers" and "burgesses," who constituted a New Social Class, the "Bourgeosie."
Characteristics of New Bourgeosie:



Civic Minded

Piety and Civic Mindedness were characteristics of citizens of the Ancient Greek Poleis, or City States. In the Middle Ages, coupled with increased prosperity, the result was the building of the great Gothic Cathedrals [Paris, Amiens, St Denis, Chartres, Laon, Lincoln, Canterbury] to serve as centers for the agrarian world. In Greece the result was the Parthenon, dedicated to the Goddess Athena, etc.

How Towns Developed:

1. Feudal Lords lost power, went away to Crusades, came home penniless. While they were gone, commercial markets began.
2. As Knighthood became more and more obsolete, and the Kings more powerful, and the world more porsperous, kings requested that landed Vassal knights pay him in money rather than in service, so that he could pay for mercenaries to fight wars. Mercenaries were better fighters than local people taken from the land [witness the slaughter at Maldon].
3. By 12th century, many knights realized there was a

great economic advantage for them to have a commercial

center on their land. Gave Town Charters. But they had to be forced to give up their power.
4. Townsmen stood up against the Landed Lords by using

Collective Action, and offering Prosperity. They

acquired the following rights:

a. personal freedom from serfhood.

b. freedom of movement

c. freedom from paying tolls

d. right to be judged by town peers

e. right to make contracts

f. right to buy and sell

5. Townsmen enforced their own laws, collected their own

taxes, and paid the lord a lump sum of money, a cash

Hence, the Revival of Europe, and the beginnign of modern commerce, learning, and civilization. After towns, people could not longer be divided into the three groups, those who fight, those who pray, and those who toil, again. From beginning of 11th, especially Europe comes creatively alive, and the strong monarchies of that time developed so far ahead of other areas, that they are still strong today: England, France, and Germany.

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