Feudalism is denominated to the social, political organization and economic cradle in Feudo that predominated in western Europe between the centuries IX and XV . was worked land properties mainly by Servants part of whose production it had to be given for " censo" (leasing) to the master of earth, in the majority of the cases small Noble (Sir) nominally loyal to king .

Definition of feudalism

Two definitions of feudalism exist generally:

- institucionalista Definition (by F. Ganshof ): It designates a set of institutions that endorse commitments generally the military, between a free man, vasallo (vasallus, vassus) and a free man in situation superior. First it receives from the second feudo (feodum, feudum) for his maintenance.

- Marxist Definition : Way of production with peculiar forms of socioeconomic relation, located between the esclavismo of the Antiquity and modern Capitalism. Concretely, it is understood like a set of relations of production and dependancy to it between the farmer and the gentleman, Earth proprietor that one usufructúa, in a while of predominance of agriculture like wealth source.

- The Feudalism can also be understood like the rupture of all the structures of being able Old, in a system of fragmentation of the Earth where the Gentleman is judge, administrator and military man of the same. All the gentlemen respond to the monarch. The farmers offer their services and work the Earth in exchange for the protection of the feudal gentleman, and between the gentlemen the feudovasalláticas relations before mentioned form.

The habitual position between the medievalistas distinguishes two processes:

- A complex of military commitments, that, along with the disintegration of the political power, entails a privatization of public functions to the benefit of a minority of free privileged.

Use of the term " feudalismo"

The failure of the political project centralizing of Carlomagno took, in the absence of that counterbalance, to the formation of a political, economic and social system that the historians has agreed upon calling Feudalism, although in fact the name was born like Pejorative to designate of Old Regime on the part of its informed critics. The French Revolution suppressed " solemnly; all the rights feudales" at night of the 4 of August of 1789 and " definitively the regime feudal", with the decree of the 11 of August.

The generalization of the term allows many social historians to apply it to the formation of all the western European territory, would belong or not to the Carolingio Empire. Those in favor of a restricted use, arguing the necessity of not confusing concepts like Feudo, Villae, Tenure, or Señorío limit so much in space (France, the West of Germany and Norte of Italy) like in the time: " first feudalismo" or " feudalism carolingio" from century VIII to year 1000 and " feudalism clásico" from year 1000 to the 1240, divided as well at two times, first, to the 1160 (the most decentralized, in than each gentleman of castle it could be considered independent); and second, the own one of " monarchy feudal"). There would be even " feudalismos of importación": Norman England from 1066 and Latin States of created east during Crossed (centuries XII and XIII).

Others prefer to speak of " régimen" or " system feudal", to subtly differentiate it from the strict feudalism, or feudal synthesis, to mark the fact that mixed characteristics of the classic antiquity with germanic contributions survive in her, implying so much to institutions as to productive elements, and meant the specificity of the western European feudalism like social economic formation against also feudal others, with transcendental consequences in the future happening historical. More difficulties it has for the use of the term when we moved away more: Eastern Europe undergoes a process of " feudalización" since the end of the Average Age, just when in many zones of Western Europe the farmers free themselves of the legal forms of the servitude, so that usually he is spoken of the Polish or Russian feudalism. The Old Regime in Europe, the medieval Islam or the Byzantine Empire were urban and commercial societies, and with a degree of variable political centralization, although the operation of the field was realized with social relations of production very similar to the medieval feudalism. The historians who apply the methodology of the historical materialism ( Marx defined Way of feudal production as the intermediate stage between the esclavista and the capitalist) do not doubt in speaking of " economy feudal" in order to talk about to her, although also they recognize the necessity of not applying the term to any nonesclavista pre-industrial social formation, since throughout history and of geography other ways of production also anticipated in the Marxist modelling, like primitive Way of production of the societies little evolved, homogenous and with little social division - like those of the same germanic towns previously to the invasions and have existed Way of Asian production or hydraulic despotism - pharaonic Egypt, kingdoms of India or Chinese Empire characterized by the taxation of the villages farmers to a state very centralized. In still more distant places it has been gotten to use the term feudalism to describe a time. It is the case of Japan and denominated Japanese Feudalism, given to the undeniable similarities and parallelisms that the European feudal nobility and her world have with Samurais and his ( also sees Shogunato, is and Japanese Castle ). Also has been gotten to apply it to the historical situation of intermediate periods of the history of Egypt, in which, following cyclical a rate millenarian, it decays the central power and the life in the cities, the military anarchy breaks the unit of territories of the Nile, and the local temples and gentlemen that reach to control a space of being able govern in him of independent form on the farmers forced to the work.


The European feudal system has its antecedents in Century V, when falling Roman Empire . The collapse of the Empire basically happened by its extension and the incapacity of Emperor to control all provinces, added to more and more the numerous incursions of Barbarian towns that attacked and sacked the most distant provinces of the empire. This caused that the emperors needed people to defend their great lands and would engage to horsemen or noble (precursory of the model of feudal Sir ), these would contract vasallos, villains, etc. was even gotten to engage heads and mercenary troops of the same towns " bárbaros".

From Century X is not rest of Empire some on Europe. The royalty, without disappearing, is lost all the real and effective power, and it only conserves a supernatural authority observed by the legend that attributes religious character to him or of intermediation between divine and the human. Thus, the king does not govern, but its authority comes, to the eyes of the town, of God, and is materialized and implemented through the pacts of vasallaje with the great gentlemen, although in fact are these who choose and demote dynasties and people. In the micro plane, the small noble maintain courts feudal that actually they compartimentalizan the state power in small cells.

A new power

The inclusive Catholic Church of all the called goods alms, connoisseur of the fragility of the kingdoms and the power that she herself has in that situation, during the councils of Charroux and Puy consecrates to the prelates and gentlemen as social heads and sanctions with serious pains the disobedience of these norms. The gentlemen, from that moment, " they receive the power of Dios" and they must try La Paz among them, pact who must renew generation after generation.

A model in which is satisfied therefore " people armada" he acquires certain commitments on the base of oaths and must protect the created order, and the ecclesiastics who form the social moral and are safeguard by the gentlemen.

Surroundings, tasks and division of the new society

Castle raised on a stop will be the representation of the power and the force. In principle, bastion that occurred the populations to protect itself of the depredations. Then, home of the gentleman and place of protection of the vasallos in the conflicts. Thence justice is administered to all whatever are subjects. At first, the free people are put under minimum norms of obedience, mutual defense and engaged services. The others are servants.

In the countries where the Roman domination lasted more time ( Italy, Hispania, Provenza ), the cities are conserved, although with smaller numerical importance, but safe from señoríos. In the countries, at the north, where the Romans were based less time or with smaller intensity, the reduction of the population in the cities it more got to make disappear the few important nuclei that there was and the feudalism is implanted with more force.

The society is then with three orders that, according to the own Church, are mandates of God and, therefore, social borders that nobody can cross. The first class or order are the one as which they serve God, whose function is the salvation of all the souls and that cannot entrust their time to another task. The second class is the one of the combatants, those whose unique mission is to protect the community and to conserve La Paz. The third class is the one of which they toil, that with their effort and work must maintain to the other two classes.

The vasallaje and feudo

Two institutions were keys for the feudalism: on the one hand Vasallaje like legal-political relation between Sir and Vasallo, Synallagmatic Contract (that is to say, between equals, with requirements) between gentlemen and vasallos (both free men, both soldiers, both noble), on both sides consisting of the interchange of supports and mutual fidelities (grant of positions, honors and earth - feudo- by the gentleman to vasallo and commitment of auxilium ET consilium - aid or military support and advice or political support), that if it were not fulfilled or broke by anyone of the two parts gave rise to Felonía, and whose hierarchy complicaba of pyramidal form (vasallo was gentleman of vasallos as well); and on the other hand Feudo like economic unit and of social relations of production, between the gentleman of feudo and his Servants not an egalitarian contract, but a violent imposition ideologically justified like Quid pro quo of protection in exchange for work and submission.

Therefore, the reality that enunciates like feudo-vasalláticas Relations is really a term that includes two types of social Relation of completely different nature, although the terms designates that them used at the time (and they are continued using) of ambiguous form and with great terminological confusion among them:

Vasallaje was a pact between two members of the nobility of different category. The horseman of smaller rank became vasallo ( vassus ) of the most powerful nobleman, than he became his gentleman ( dominus ) by means of the Tribute and Investiture, in a ritualizada ceremony that took place in Tower of the tribute of Castle of the gentleman. Tribute ( homage ) - del vasallo to the gentleman consisted of the postration or humiliation - habitually of knees, osculum (kiss), inmixtio manum - the hands of vasallo, united orante On guard, were welcomed between those of the gentleman, and some phrase that recognized to have turned into its man . After the tribute took place Investiture - del Sir to vasallo-, that it represented the delivery of feudo (following the category of vasallo and gentleman, could be a county, a duchy, a mark, a castle, a population, or a simple pay; or even a monastery if the vasallaje were ecclesiastic) through Symbol of the territory or the feeding that the gentleman must vasallo - of earth, grass or grain and little Accolade, in which vasallo receives one Sword (and blows with her in shoulders), or Walking stick if he were religious.

The tribute and the investiture

tribute was a ritual by which a gentleman granted Feudo to another man of the class privileged in exchange for services and benefits, generally of military order.

The figure of the Tribute acquires major relevance enters centuries XI the XIII, destining the noblest part of the castle for it, the tower, and in the ceremonial one two men participated: vasallo that, made kneel, destocado and disarmed against Sir with the hands united in test of humility and submission, hopes that this one gathers to him raises and it, occurring to both a mutual recognition of support and an oath of fidelity. The gentleman will give feudo to him in payment by his future services, that consisted generally of real estate: Great extensions of land, almost always of farming. The oath and the vasallaje will be of by life.

The delivery of feudo or some element represents that it constitutes investiture and it was realized immediately after the tribute. The legal regime of delivery is, of general form, life Usufruct, although also it could be in material goods, but that with time became an attachment of families between the gentleman and his vasallos, being able to inherit feudo whenever the heirs renewed their votes with the gentleman. Nevertheless, the feudal gentleman had right to revoke feudo to his vasallo if this one did not behave like so, or demonstrated some sign of disloyalty, like conspiring against him, not fulfilling giving to the troops of his feudo in case of war, etc., since he committed the crime of felonía. To felón one considered an evil vasallo and a person of whom to distrust. In the feudal system, felonía was a terrible spot of by life in the reputation of a horseman. The organization of feudo Encomienda, Encomendación or Sponsorship ( patrocinium, commendatio, although was habitual to even use the term commendatio for the act of the tribute or for all the institution of the vasallaje) were theoretical pacts between the farmers and the feudal gentleman, who could also ritualizar themselves in a ceremony or - more rarely to give rise to a document. The gentleman welcomed in the farmers in his feudo, that organized in one satately Reserve that the servants had to work ( Sernas obligatorily or Corveas and in the set of the small familiar operations ( Tame that were attributed to the farmers so that they could subsist. Obligation of the gentleman was to protect to them if they were attacked, and to maintain the order and justice in feudo. In return, the farmer became his servant and passed to double Jurisdiction of the feudal gentleman: in the terms used in Spain in the Low Average Age, territorial Señorío, that forced the farmer to pay rents to the nobleman by the Earth use; and Señorío jurisdictional, that turned to the feudal gentleman into governor and judge of the territory in which the farmer lived, reason why obtained feudal Rents of very different origin (imposed, fines, monopolies, etc. The distinction between property and jurisdiction was not in the feudalism something clearly, because in fact the same concept of property was confused, and the jurisdiction, granted by king like Merced, put to the gentleman in disposition to obtain its rents. They did not exist very señoríos jurisdictional in that the totality of the parcels belonged like property to the gentleman, being generalized different forms from Alodium in the farmers. At later moments of depopulation and refeudalización, like Crisis of century XVII, some noble tried that they completely considered uninhabited of farmers señorío to free themselves of all type of restrictions and to turn it into reconvertible round Boundary for another use, like the cattle dealer.

Along with feudo, vasallo does not receive the servants whom there are in him, not like Property Esclavista, but either in regime of freedom; since its servile condition prevents them to leave it and it forces to them to work. The obligations of the gentleman of feudo include the maintenance of order, that is to say, criminal Jurisdiction civil and ( mere and mixed empire in the legal terminology reintroduced with Straight Roman in the Low Average Age), which still gave to majors opportunities to obtain productive Surplus that the farmers could obtain after the obligations of work - corveas or sernas in the satately reserve or of the payment of rent - in species or money, of very little circulation in the High Average Age, but more generalized medieval centuries in the last, according to was invigorating the economy. As satately monopoly used to be the operation of the forests and the hunting, the ways and bridges, the mills, the taverns and stores. All this were more opportunities to obtain more Rent feudal, including rights traditional, as ius prioritizes noctis or Straight of pernada, that became a tax by marriages, good sample that it is in the surplus of where the feudal rent of extraeconomic form is extracted (in this case in the prosperous demonstration that a community farmer grows and).

The social estates

The division in three orders was subdivided as well in perfectly delimited compact estates and.

In one first division, is the group of privileged, all of them gentlemen, Ecclesiastics or horsemen. In the peak was King, later High Clergy integrated by Archbishops Bishops and Abbots and Under Clergy formed by Curas and Priests and finally Nobility . It is east group of privileged the one that trains the gentlemen and the horsemen, and these last ones could as well be gentlemen of other horsemen, following its power and of the capacity to subinfeudar its earth. High Clergy, besides the tasks that within the three orders had been entrusted him, the spiritual guide and to maintain the moral doctrine that maintained the feudalism, could as well be gentlemen and to give part of their goods for the defense of their community. The privileged people did not pay taxes.

privileged Bourgeoisie was not, Craftsmen the crew members and Farmers that subdivided as well in colonists and villagers. To these the submission to the Earth corresponded and, therefore, to that of her depended, working it and giving a part of its fruits to the gentleman, or, in the case of craftsmen and bourgeois, they had obedience to that guaranteed the defense of the city and the delivery of goods or money to them.

The ecclesiastics

High Clergy always was dominated by the episcopado one, whose earthly powers were comparable to those of any lay gentleman. Initially, Monks all pertaining to Under Clergy, were within the scope of being able of Bishops later, would be Abbots who would finish delimiting their authority on the members of the monastic orders, being the priests in the scope of episcopal Diocese .

In Abbeys went outlining different models: on the one hand, those that were not possessing of great properties and that depended for their survival on Alms on the faithfuls, and some estates given by the gentlemen of the place to guarantee the sustenance of the religious community. The money necessity favors that it is at this moment in which the figure of alms is praised as to have fundamental for the believer and way for the salvation of the soul.

Others Monasteries owned extensive properties and Abbot acted like a feudal gentleman, in some cases even appointing horsemen whom they protect to him or favoring the creation of orders the monk-military of great power. Be that as it may, in these the money comes from Rents that are given by Servants generally in species, as well as from the contributions, many of generous them, and sometimes interested, of other gentlemen. The necessity to maintain a good relation with the abbot of a powerful monastery will favor that other gentlemen give offerings of high value and help to the construction and embellishment of Churches and Cathedrals that symbolized the power.

The different destiny from the ecclesiastics came determined by its social ancestry. One is the more open social estate, because any free person can get up itself to the same paying to an amount of money Dote . This one will be the element that determines within the estate the position that, indeed, is going to occupy each. The children of the gentlemen who integrate themselves within the church will contribute numerous sums which they guarantee, not only their survival of by life, but a remarkable patrimonial increase for the cathedral town hall or monastery in which they integrate themselves, and a high rank of the donors within the system. Those are these that will hold the obispales positions later. On the other hand, the clergymen will be the children of the farmers and, generally, the nonprivileged people, and whose functions, besides the nuns, will be limited or ET toils . This practice degenerated actually of transaction of ecclesiastical positions called ugly Simonía .feo ugly

The cavalry

The fundamental obligation of vasallo was to fulfill the military duties, mainly the defense of the gentleman and its goods, but also the defense of own feudo and Servants that in him was. An even obligation era to contribute to a minimum part of Tributes collected the gentleman to engrandecer its properties. Horseman did not have an owner in fact, nor was put under being able politician some, for that reason were horsemen who fought in the rows of a king a day, and the following one in those of another one. His to have real era towards the gentleman to whom united a camaraderie spirit to him.

In Century IX still was used the term you militate to make reference to the horsemen, although soon the local languages were developing own terms that were grouped in " jinetes" or " caballeros". Its importance more and more went in increase when doing without itself Infantry . The horseman must provide with horse, armor and Arms and have time of leisure to fulfill his mission.

Although abierto at the outset, the estate of the horsemen tended to close itself, becoming hereditary. With time, the horsemen were ordered when finishing the adolescence by a comrade-in-arms in a simple ceremony. At this moment no longer he concerns the fortune, but the ancestry, being created remarkable differences between the same. Poorest they have a small land, and occupy his time between the own workings of the farmer and the war. Most powerful, than they have earth and fortune, they will begin to form authentic Nobility, concentrating to be able economic and military.

The cavalry in the kingdoms of Hispania

In the peninsular kingdoms, the kings, always needed troops to face the Moors, promote the cavalry between their subjects of very simple way: Horseman denominated itself that one able one to maintain a horse, thing for which a mini fortune was required, because the horse is not used for the tasks of the field. After three or four generations, maintaining a horse, acquired the quality of Noble (son of somebody). This one is the reason for which Alonso Quijano, gift Quijote, had a skinny horse: in order to continue being called noble and the fact that it wanted to be armed " caballero", one more a ridicule of Cervantes that understood who, at the time, knew that noble was more than horseman.

To have a horse supposed to be able to participate in the wars of the king and, behaving bravely, to choose to the possibility that the king granted Mercedes to him

This organization, much more permeable socially, had two consequences: to fortify the real power against the noble, since the king had armies without needing his aid, and being made more fort the real power, to make the country more powerful, as thus it happened. The civil wars between Pedro I of Castile and its stepbrother are seen Enrique, how first it leans in the cities and the second in the noble, but changes of side towards the cities when it defeats and it kills Pedro.

Not privileged

The set of Lay free that does not belong to the reduced chivalrous category is not privileged in whose work the economic order of the feudalism rests.

The most numerous group free Farmers form, who work the Earth, generally other people's, or small own parcels. Between these he continues being differences, according to Farmer is itself that has one mere Yunta of oxen or Laborer . In some singular case, free farmers get to own great extensions that will later allow them to arrive at the condition of landowners and, of there, to noble, but they will be exceptional situations.

In any case, which distinguishes to them like estate, like Servants is its situation of dependancy against Sir who have not chosen and who have envelope they the power to distribute the Earth, to administer justice, to determine the tributes, to demand military duties of safekeeping and protection to them of the castle and the goods of the gentleman and to take control like feudal Rent of a substantial part of the surplus, in work, species (percentage of the harvest) or money.

The villains

The inhabitants of the towns dedicated to agriculture received this name. Two classes were distinguished: the free servants ( Servant ) and farmers. The servants were not owners of their people. They comprised of the Earth, thus was called servants to them of gleba. They could not leave the Earth without consent of the gentleman, the same to contract marriage. It was possible to be sold to them along with the Earth. They had, in addition, that to pay by the Earth which they cultivated and to free serve to Sir . The free farmers could change of place, contract marriage, transmit their goods. Nevertheless, they were forced the military service and to pay to him to the gentleman invested in Money or species by the Earth use. The life of the villains was very hard. Often they were harassed by the hunger and the plague. The feudal system, from the political point of view, Even though initiates its decay when beginning Crossed from the seen point social and economic in some countries it persists to the present time. The absolutist predominance of the kings and with the acquisition of liberties on the part of the cities finishes ending the system.

Feudal economy

The invasions that Europe undergoes for more than one hundred years ( Norman Muslim, Slavic with the fall of Roman Empire and the later weakening of Carolingio Empire will restrain the economic activity until the doors of the year 1000 .

It is at this moment when modern agricultural techniques extend that, existing previously, had been reduced to few territorial spaces. Among them of water is possible to emphasize the increase in the use of Mills as driving force and of the drains for irrigation, extending cultures and releasing manpower. In addition, they improve the methods of enlistment of the animal, especially horse and Ox, whose young increases of remarkable way and will allow to have animal of shot in abundance. The instruments of agricultural use, like Plowed or Hoe, generally of wood, are replaced by others of iron.

The agrarian operation feudal era of subsistence. The servants cultivated the sufficient thing to stay to themselves and to pay to the tithes to the Church and the rent to the gentleman. He collects of it also separated the necessary seeds for the following sowing. The urban markets supplied with the portions of the tithes and the rent.

The cultures were organized around the populations in three ring. And the first nearest one the population dedicated to the fruits and vegetables. The second was for cereals, main sustenance of the time. The third nucleus was territories of I graze and mounts exploded of communal form. The communal grass limited therefore the expansion of territories of cereals and prevented to extend the extension cultivated according to the demand of the population.

The rotation of cultures was the main used system to avoid the Earth deterioration. This method consists of leaving in fallow land (that is to say, without cultivating) a part of the Earth every year to allow its regeneration. In the Mediterranean regions the rotation was used biennial, according to which half of earth was in fallow land every year. In the Atlantic European regions the triennial rotation was used: a third of the Earth for cereal of long cycle - of winter, another third for cereal of short cycle - summer and the last third in fallow land. The Earth that was without cultivating dedicated to communal use, allowing that the animal grazed in her (practical well-known like Defeat of mieses )

The increase of the production as a result of the innovations supposes or in Century XI a reduction of the personal benefits of the servants to its gentlemen as far as working hours, replacing itself by the payment of an economic quantity or in species. The territories of the gentleman are reduced and increase the rentings. At the same time, the farmers increase their rents available and win in independence.

The number of plowed earth is increased and begins the period of elimination of the European forests, drainage of flooded earth, the extension of lands plowed far from the villages and the dispersed construction of houses farmers. The best earth attract a greater mass of population and migrations take place in all the center of Europe. The growth of the population is remarkable from 1050, getting itself to duplicate to the population of England in 150 years and Average Age will be tripled towards the end of . In century XI Extreme hungers have disappeared.

From Century XII, the existence of surpluses increases Comercio beyond the borders of señorío. The commercial activities allow that Bourgeoisie arises incipient, Merchants that must carry out its work also paying a part of its benefits in the form of tributes to the gentlemen, who increase in this way their resources as well. The pilgrimage routes are the new ways by where the commerce is abre. Rome, Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela are the destinies, but the communities located in their access roads bloom. The cities, Burgos, are at the same time defense spaces and of in agreement commerce it advances the time and it is developed a new society that will take off in centuries XIII and XIV.

Fall of the feudalism

From Century XIII, the improvement of the agricultural techniques and the consequent increase of Comercio did that Bourgeoisie outside pressing so that the economic opening of the closed spaces of the large cities was facilitated, they would be reduced to the tributes of Toll and forms of safe commerce would be guaranteed and a centralization of the justice administration and equality of the norms in ample territories that allowed to develop their work them, while guarantees of which those that harmed these norms would be punished with equal hardness in the different territories.

The cities that abrían the doors to the commerce and to a greater freedom of circulation, saw increase the wealth and prosperity of their inhabitants and those of the gentleman, reason why with reluctance but of way it signs went away diluting the model. The alliances between gentlemen were more common, not only as much for War, like allowing the economic development of their respective territories, and the king was the agglutinating element of those alliances. The feudalism reached the culminating point of its development in century XIII; from then it initiated his decay. The subenfeudamiento arrived at such point that the gentlemen had problems to obtain the benefits that had to receive. The vasallos preferred to realize payments in metalist (scutagium, `rates by shield') in exchange for the military aid due to their gentlemen; these as well tended to prefer the money, that allowed to engage professional troops them who in many occasions better were trained and more were disciplined than the vasallos. In addition, the resurgence of the infantry tactics and the introduction of new arms, as the arc and the goad, did that the cavalry was not already a decisive factor for the war. The decay of the feudalism was accelerated in centuries XIV and XV. During the war of the One hundred Years, the cavalries French and English fought hard, but the battles gained to a great extent by the professional soldiers and especially by the arqueros of on foot. The professional soldiers fought in units whose heads had taken oath of tribute and fidelity to a prince, but with nonhereditary contracts and that normally were a duration of months or months. This `bastard feudalism' was to a passage of the system of mercenary, that already had prevailed in Italy of the Renaissance condotieros.

It is also seen

  • feudal Monarchies


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