What is feudalism and manorialism? These economic and political systems were the heart of the function of medieval society from the mid 400s AD into the Renaissance period. Yet, both held their own specific rules and included only particular members of society...
Use this information, along with our in-class lecture, to answer this week's assessment posting.
Feudalism: A Political System This was the political (and legally binding) relationship between both lords and their vassals that was bound by the homage paid between the two. This homage--or feudal contract--signified the exchange of land (fief) for loyalty and military service that could be called upon at any time. Within fedualism, a lord granted his vassal an estate and the vassal swore to protect the lord with military service.
These fiefs often included peasants to work the land, as well as towns/buildings already established on it. They could also range in size from a few acres to hundreds of square miles. It is on these fiefs that that the system of Manorialism flourished.
The homage sworn to lords by vassals was both legally binding and typically lasted for one's entire lifespan. This homage was mainly for protection provided by an army of knights, but could also mean paying for the weddings of a lord's children, giving a percentage of one's manorial good/services, etc.
Manorialism: An Economic System The most important aspect of medieval society was the manor, or estate. Manors included the villages located there, as well as the surrounding lands. Peasants, or serfs, were the highest percentage of the population and made up the residents of these manor communities; they worked in order to retain their ability to reside there. Serfs were bound to the land, but were not slaves. Yet, ironically, they were not free either. They simply could not leave the manor without the lord's permission. Thus, if a manor was granted to a new lord, the serfs went with it.
The obligations within this system were a two-way street. Serfs were required to provide their lord with goods and services (i.e. blacksmith, baker, or barber-doctor). In return, peasants were provided the protection of their lords from invading forces.
*(Optional) Still not sure about Manorialsm? Check out this cool website (Mr. Donn's Site) for additional information that takes the time to explain it a bit more in-depth. There is also a link to a game you can play to get the feel of how this system worked. Neither are required, but give them a try if Manorialism confuses you. Remember, I'm only a message away if you're still lost!!
D. "King O" Feudalism Assignment:
So you think you understand how feudalism works? Let's find out!!
Below is a worksheet with a diagram of a fictional medieval kingdom ruled by King O. Complete the feudal system exercise in order to examine power, status, and the role of the king, or monarch, in the Middle Ages. Save/print your completed worksheet as we will be going over these in class. Your answers to these questions will be used to assess whether you truly "get" this political system. Don't be discouraged if you don't understand; often, students feel comfortable with the ideas of feudalism, but do not realize it is much more complicated than it seems. We may simply need to spend more time on the power flow of feudalism as a class...