Feudal Society

Essential Question

How does loyalty between the lower an upper class strengthen an empire?

Development of Feudalism and Feudal Society

The development of Feudalism started at around 800 C.E. from the remnants of the Western Roman Empire. This idea was thought of because the higher class of Western Europe needed a source of protection while still being able to control the lower class, that's where the idea of Feudalism came from.

The goal of feudalism was for the higher class to gain back the loyalty from the lower class due to fear of an uprising. And to make sure that there was a restored order in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. This is how Feudal Society developed.

Feudal Society Structure

The Society was structured where the King was in complete control.

That King owned a large amount of land and leased it to trustworthy men called Vassals. The Vassal had to swear an oath to remain faithful to the King at all times. The Vassals were wealthy, powerful, and had complete control of their land, called a manor. They provided lodging and food for the King and his court when they traveled around the country. Vassals had their own system of justice, minted their own money, and set their own taxes. But, the Vassals had to serve the Royal council, pay their rent, and provide the King with military services when he asked for them. Barons (a title of English nobility and another name for a Vassal) did this by leasing their land out to Knights, who would fight for him and thus the King.

Knights were quite wealthy yet they were not as wealthy as the Vassals. The Knights kept as much land as they wanted and gave the rest to serfs.

Serfs provided the Knight with free food, labor, and service whenever he demanded it. Serfs had no rights, never left the manor, and had to ask the lord before they could marry. Serfs were the majority of all people and their lives were rough.

Feudal Society was the giving up of freedom for protection. Yet since everyone was constantly fearing for their lives there was no societal growth.

Feudal Contract

Each villein (serf) had a contract with his lord explaining his rights and duties. The lords wrote these contracts down in account books so that everyone would know what the duties were. These contracts were for life and if the serf were to disobey the contract they would be tortured or be put to death. This is why many serfs lived their whole life on the  manor.


Manorialism was the political, economic, and social system by which the peasants of medieval Europe were rendered dependent to their lord and land. The basic unit of this system was the manor. A self sufficient landed estate was called a fief. This piece of land was controlled by the lord who had many more rights than the peasants (or serfs) on the property and basically controlled their lives. The manorial system made feudalism possible organizing the estates of aristocracy.

Essential Question

Now that you've seen everything on Feudal Society rethink the essential question

How does loyalty between the lower an upper class strengthen an empire?

Works Cited

  • "Medieval Life - Feudalism." Medieval Life. Web. 18 Dec. 2014. <http://www.historyonthenet.com/medieval_life
  • "The Middle Ages: Feudal Life." The Middle Ages: Feudal Life. Web. 18 Dec. 2014. <http://www.learner.org/interactives/middleage
  • "Manorialism (European History)."Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 18 Dec. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/36

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