Rise of the Feudal States

Andrew Yi and Daniel Beteta

Feudalism was the medieval model of government predating the birth of the modern nation-state. Feudal society is a military hierarchy in which a ruler or lord offers mounted fighters a fief, a unit of land to control in exchange for a military service. The individual who accepted this land became a vassal, and the man who granted the land becomes known as his liege or his lord.

Feudalism Social System:

King-A king ruled large areas of land/country by divine right. To protect his land from invasion, the king gave parts of it to local lords, who were called vassals.The king reported to God and then the pope.
Queen-A female sovereign or monarch. The wife or consort of a king.

A non-reigning male member of a royal family.


A non-reigning female member of a royal family.

From the time of Clovis, the Frankish King, who died in A.D. 511,

the progress of the Franks in civilization was slow, and for more than two centuries they spent their energies mainly in useless wars. But Charles Martel and his son, Pepin the Short - the latter dying in 768 - built up a kingdom which Charlemagne erected into a powerful empire. Under the predecessors of Charlemagne, came the beginnings of feudalism.


The feudal system first appears in the Frankish lands in the 9th and 10th century and was further spread as Charlemagne and his descendants pushed through various nations and conquered them, bringing along with them the idea of manorialism and feudalism.

Why and how did Feudal States emerge?

Feudalism spread from France to Spain, Italy, and later Germany and Eastern Europe. In England the Frankish form was imposed by William I (William the Conqueror) after 1066, although most of the elements of feudalism were already present. It was extended eastward into Slavic lands which were continually invaded and it was adopted partially in Scandinavian countries. The important features of feudalism were similar throughout, but there a few differences when looking at completely varying nations Feudalism continued in all parts of Europe until the end of the 14th century.

Barbarian Invasions

Essentially, the Barbarian created the various nations of modern Europe. As many different nations began to fight amongst one another as well as defend against outside invaders, the Roman Empire began to crumble. Furthermore, this caused a separation in many different places, which led to the development of many secluded and singular societies, such as France, Germany, and other familiar European countries that we have today.


Before Charlemagne
After Charlemagne

Charlemagne was the first and greatest of the Carolingian Dynasty, which was a period of time that began when Charlemagne was crowned as emperor by the Pope. Charlemagne ushered in a new era of conquering and society as he began to push him and his borders across the known world.

Charlemagne was determined to strengthen his realm and to bring order to Europe. In 772 he launched a 30-year military campaign to accomplish his goal. By 800 Charlemagne was the undisputed ruler of Western Europe. His many conquests included various lands such as France, Belgium and many other lands. By establishing a central government over Western Europe, Charlemagne restored much of the unity of the old Roman Empire and paved the way for the development of modern Europe.

In 800 as well, the Pope of the Holy Roman church at this time crowned Charlemagne as the Holy Roman Emperor, which displayed that he had successfully united the all but destroyed empire.

Critical Thinking Question

What is the cause of rebellions and riots in countries under Feudal control?

Comment Stream