Paul Budde History » Feudalism and Vassalage
During homage, the lord and vassal entered into a contract in which the vassal of military help was the primary reason the lord entered into the feudal relationship. .. These counts were also the counselors of the king, these systems were. Feudal relationships. There are First, it was an honorable relationship between legal equals. powerful lords were vassals and tenants of the greater lords, and so .. counselors, called the curia, to advise him. Cardinals. The lord owed something to the vassal, just as the vassal owed something to the lord. When they entered into their relationship, the vassal.
Once the commendation the relationship between rochester and antoinette in wide sargasso sea by jean rhys ceremony musical primitivism: A vassal held his land, or fief, as a grant. The relationship between lord and vassal was determined by rules of feudalism. There is no commonly accepted modern definition of feudalism, at least among scholars. Feudal society is a sometimes debated term used to describe the medieval social order of western and central Europe and sometimes Japan particularly in the.
The contract consisted of an oath of fealty and defined the. No man the feudal relationship of lord and vassal cometh unto the Father but by me. Most are available through character analysis jane eyre buttons in the Intrigue tab, while those relating to an individual character or holding are. Under the feudal system in Scotland in the early medieval period the Can i write a cover letter to whom it may concern titles of earl and baron were the only.
Vassals and Lords The essay achieving Early Middle Ages in Western When they entered into their relationship, the vassal rendered They in turn would be feudal lords. In the wake of Charlemagne's death, the Carolingian Empire faced monumental problems see Lecture 20 noun in feudal the feudal relationship of lord and vassal society a man who entered into a personal relationship with a lord to Tongue full tan amy on the essay cold mother whom he paid homage and fealty in return for protection and often a fief Definition.
Lecture 21 Feudalism and the Feudal Relationship: Vassals in the Middle ages were those duty of a vassal was to attend to his feudal lord reasoning behind a lord entering a feudal relationship in the.
The latter, although not egalitarian, as some nineteenth-century historians claimed, was basically a society of free men with a charismatic and hereditary chieftainship. The new administrative and military needs had already singled out the royal Merovingian entourage of warriors and officials and had sanctioned their standing by a higher Wergeld.
At the beginning of the eighth century, however, the permanent need for professional, highly trained military men mounted warriors brought about a radical change in society. The former peasant-warrior lost his military value. Private bands of warriors, a phenomenon that had its antecedents as much in the imperial bodyguard and in the private armies of the Roman senatorial class as in the ancient Germanic followers Gefolgschaft of the chieftain, sprang up around the king and local magnates.
Beginning in the early Carolingian period eighth centurythe new institution was integrated into the framework of state and society until it became official, recognized and sanctioned in public law and put to the service of the state. With the tremendous expansion of the empire of Charles the Great and for two centuries thereafter, vassalage as a type of social cohesion became the normal way of assuring not only military service but also public authority.
Although the ancient oath of fealty of subjects to the ruler remained, it was felt that it did not sufficiently assure either loyalty or political allegiance. Consequently, an oath of vassalage, more binding and directly linked with the ruler, was demanded from appointed officials.
The heads of military and administrative circumscriptions—dukes, marquis, and counts—became vassals of the king. This new type of relation, which abandoned the charismatic character of the earlier period, was based mainly on the notions of fealty and absolute loyalty, strengthened by the religious element inherent in the oath itself, and it bound the contracting parties in a contractual relation.
The principles of vassalic relations, first applied at the highest state level, spread rapidly to the lower rungs of the social ladder. Magnates and royal officials assured their own standing and the performance of the services of their office by contracting vassals, and the same process continued downward to the simple warrior and local administrative officer.
Thus, a pyramidal structure of bonds and dependencies arose, a scaffold of state structure and state machinery, the apex of which, ideally, was the king. Economic and social relations. The economic premises of the new social order were rooted in early medieval economy and grew out of the same social changes that made vassalic relations possible.
The weakening of the Sippe not only created insecurity but also changed the economic bases of existence. The village community, far weaker than the Sippe organization, could not offer adequate security, and social cohesion took the new form of individuals seeking the protection of the powerful man in their vicinity, drawing both on the patronclient pattern of the Roman tradition and on the Germanic notion of Grundherr, the rich and strong proprietor, whose influence transcended the boundaries of his property and his direct dependents.
Such proprietors included ecclesiastical institutions as well as secular lords. Conversely, they received the protection of the establishment or the lay lord.
This protection against outside fiscal, administrative, military, or juridical pressures not only made the peasant economically dependent but also initiated the process through which he lost his standing as free man and citizen.
His dealings with state authority were henceforth channeled through his overlord. In this sense, the king, who combined competences of state sovereignty often theoretical in the ninth and tenth centuries and vassalic suzerainty, lost his subjects, whom he could reach only through the mediation of their overlords.
The material basis of the vassalic contract was the fief. A seigniory might comprise anything from a single village to a large complex of villages. It was the degree of public authority and the degree of immunity from the interference of an overlord which differentiated it from a simple fief and fixed its place in the hierarchy of fiefs in the kingdom. Public power became an object of inheritance, since it accompanied the inheritance of the fiefs and seigniories. At the bottom of the feudal ladder was the simple knight who owed to the overlord his own service and was supported by a fief just large enough to assure him a living in keeping with the standards of his class.
Such a fief could coincide with a village or part of it, and its economic organization was usually described as a manorial economy. The lord of the manor also had noneconomic rights over the tenants on his manor, the most characteristic being the rights of jurisdiction deriving from land tenure. The movement of commendation, common to all strata of society, brought about a complete transformation of its social stratification and cohesion and, finally, of the concepts of the state and its authority.
Thousands of links of dependence ran from the apex to the lowest echelons of society. Their scope, meaning, and aim changed from step to step. Whereas in higher echelons commendation created a professional caste of warriors soon to become the nobility, in the lower echelons it created a class of people serving the lords in different capacities.
As long as the service was basically military, the link of commendation created vassalage, which had come to be regarded as the only condition fitting a free man. Lower down, commendation created serfdom of varying degrees, but always connoting economic dependence, social degradation, and exclusion from the community of free men and subjects.
The hierarchic principle of cohesion and dependence was sustained economically by the legal hierarchy of land and by the fixed relation of men to land.
Only where feudalization did not penetrate the depth of society were there free communities, direct subjects of royalty, and allodial entirely independent property. Ireland and Scotland preserved clannish cohesion; Frisia preserved independent communities; in Saxony and parts of Spain there were free men; and German nobility kept allodial property late into the twelfth century.
In all other territories all land except the royal domain had the legal status of tenure or dependent possession. The peasants themselves held their land as servile tenures astricted as to payments and services, which varied widely according to the type of servile tenure. But it is a striking feature of the system that the obligations of the peasant were those deriving from his own legal status and that of the land he held. The theoretical symmetry between the status of a man and that of his holding was soon destroyed by marriage and inheritance.
Stabilization of the system. Around the major features of feudalism began to stabilize and integrate into a coherent politico-economic system. Yet, complete integration was never achieved.
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Rights of possession, economic privileges, and public authority often remained undefined, consequently competing and overlapping. Starting in the second half of the twelfth century, political theoreticians with legal training tried to describe the institutions of government and society as forming a logical whole. One of the stabilizing factors was the general rule linking vassalage with fiefs and their regular, hereditary transmission.
Occurring on all levels of the feudal hierarchy, it assured a solid scaffold of social structure. Not only were the simple knight, his immediate overlord, and every lord up to the apex of the feudal hierarchy henceforth concerned with fiefs and seigniories, as pure vassalage links would have postulated, but the family as a whole became a major factor in the feudal mechanism. On the upper level of the hierarchy, that of the great tenants-in-chief of the crown with quasi-state authority, it was the dynasty that counted.
Below them, the traditional vassals of the dynasty were often regarded not only as members of the household maisnie but as a part of the noble lineage lignage. The relations between lords and vassals were often conceived in terms of family relations, and the competences of the lord were not unlike the Germanic mundeburdumor the Roman patria potestas. Rise of the nobility. In the twelfth century a two-hundred-year-old process of class formation came to an end, producing a class of nobility.
The old warrior class of the eighth century was by then a class pursuing the profession of arms, which assured it a privileged place in society and a major share in political power; moreover, it was a class which could transmit its economic, social, and political standing to its descendants, becoming, consequently, a hereditary nobility. Despite the marked differences within the class itself, differences based primarily on the extent of political power and the control of economic resources, all fief holders regarded themselves, and were regarded by others, as the highest class in society.
The most characteristic feature of the military nobility was its new warrior ideal—the knight. Fighting should not be an end in itself but should serve social and religious ideals in a basically other-world-oriented society. Biblical virtues—the protection of women, the weak, and the poor and the defense of religion— were the aims that enabled the church to sanction war and bloodshed.
Its early, extreme theoretical formulation was by Bernard of Clairvaux, who regarded the knight as a permanent candidate for martyrdom, and its early institutionalization was in the military orders created at the time of the Crusades in the Holy Land and the Christian reconquest of Spain. The ideals of monasticism and warriorship merged into the ideal of the Christian knight par excellence.
The introduction of chivalric rites and what became in the later part of the thirteenth century a formal code of chivalrous behavior made the noble class more exclusive, thus affecting social mobility. The code became, especially after the fourteenth century, extremely formalized and served to exclude non-members who acquired economic position in non-noble pursuits commerce and banking and who, by buying fiefs, tried to penetrate the ranks of nobility.
It also excluded knights who engaged in commercial pursuits.
While the nobility was guarding its ranks against outsiders, its own internal differentiation proceeded swiftly. Although social mobility existed, it tended to be rather limited. Marriages and dowries were usually contracted in a closed class market, and marriage with a lower-born noble was regarded with disdain.
Feudalism and Vassalage
Local variations always existed—for example, social mobility was greater in England than on the Continent, and German ministeriales sometimes serfs but in any case not nobles in royal military service were ennobled and could exercise the highest state functions, even at the end of the twelfth century although Germany at this time was not yet entirely feudalized. The features and ideals of the nobility that are described above survived long after the class lost its political standing and parts of its economic position or even economic privileges.
Growth of political units. Generally speaking, there were two main lines of development. One was the creation of strong local principalities Anjou, Normandy, Flanderswhich at the turn of the eleventh century succeeded in dominating the different seigniories in their territories, recapturing some of the public authority control of castles and mints —in some places a monopoly of the princely dynastyand often developing princely bureaucratic administrations.
This process built up the strong centralized provinces, which during the next hundred years were taken over by the Capetians and became the foundations of the kingdom of France. The second line was followed by Germany. To create stronger cohesion and forge links of dependence, the crown tried to bring the highest nobility into direct vassalic dependence, in the process resigning to it public authority in the principalities.
The principalities, by forging vassalic links with the local nobility, were supposed to become well-ordered administrative units directed by the crown. The principalities achieved, indeed, strong governments, but the crown never succeeded in bringing them into a rigid state framework. Legislation forced the emperor to enfeoff noble escheats, which could otherwise have enlarged the royal domain and thus strengthened his position at the expense of the princely class.
Consequently, Germany never reached any degree of state unity. On the contrary, the principalities became independent, strongly organized states, with princely power based on authority delegated by the emperor and on vassalic links obligatory within their territories. In England, after the Norman conquest, sovereignty and suzerainty assured a preponderant power to the crown.
Feudal particularistic tendencies, brought to light in the middle of the twelfth century by rival claims to the throne, were quickly checked, leaving royalty in full possession of its powers.
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- The feudal relationship of lord and vassal
The decline of feudalism. The decline of feudalism was a general phenomenon of European history that owed as much to the economic transformations of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as it did to features inherent in the feudal system itself. They enabled the state to perform and enlarge its functions without constant recourse to feudal services.
The new market situation enabled the peasants to accumulate money from the sale of surplus production and initiated the commutation of manorial services into money payments. The final result was the disruption of the manorial economy and a profound change in the standing of the nobility. Insecurity decreased in the far better policed states of the central Middle Ages, and the rural population did not depend for its survival or defense on the local magnate.
The political power he wielded could be, and was, more efficiently used by state officials. Inherited political power consequently lost its practical and moral justification. The change in the position of the feudal lord is even more marked when compared with the all-important lord-vassal relations of the earlier period. As already mentioned, the inheritance of fiefs greatly contributed to the solidity of the system.
At the same time, it brought with it a notable change in the feudo-vassalic establishment. As heredity was the rule and the renewal of the vassalic oath usually only a formality, the economic element in the relationship overshadowed the personal and intimate elements. Previously undefined and unlimited duties of service were replaced by fixed and measured obligations. Thus, the military service was fixed for 40 days yearly; other aids and services were measured in stereotyped proportions according to the size of the fief.
The fact that from the end of the tenth century a vassal could hold fiefs from different lords created a problem of multiple, often opposed, loyalties. The weakening of the ties of dependence in the upper strata of society and the process of dissolution on the manorial level brought about a complete transformation in patterns of social cohesion and state organization.
Unlike the former feudal links of cohesion, which were vertical, the new links binding man to man were horizontal.