European Feudal System: Common Relationships and Characteristics
From the X to XIII century, the feudal system arose and expanded throughout Europe. Originating from the fusion of the Roman and Germanic societies, it was a system of military, political, religious and economic organizations, which summed to the establishing certain relationships between lords and vassals. Vassals, in return, had to perform services for their king, most commonly of military character. â€œFeudalism can be defined as the conjunction of institutions that create and manage obligations of obedience and service by part of a vassal to another called lord, and ...view middle of the document...
The lord would have certain privileges over what was entrusted to the vassal. For instance, if a vassal was given a piece of land he would have to cultivate it to pay his due to his lord. On the other hand, the lord also benefited economically from the work that was done on the land.
The king would sometimes require vassals to engage in military aid as well. â€œThe feudal military aristocracy remained as a leading minority because of the cohesion of lineage, vassalage and knightly idealsâ€ (qtd. In La Alta Edad Media, 84). The knight was the mounted warrior of the military class; of the nobles. As military officers, they were also landholders; the vassals were the ones who took care of the lands the knights gave them. This characteristic is prominent of the feudal system. It conveys to noble warriors the power of bestowing military tenure on the vassals, who are the ones being protected by their lords so they can perform the duties that were given to them and that they swore to fulfil. Vassalage is the way of distributing the lands to peasants who are most likely to accomplish all the obligations that are required by the lords. Vassals could hold various pieces of land, and commit themselves to 12 lords at once if they wanted to (â€œFeudalismâ€). They also had to come up with the amount of men requested by the lord, or king, for any given battle (â€œFeudalism and Medieval Lifeâ€). This shows us the dependency by which they lived. They worked for each other and for everyone else. The vassals were the most important â€œtoolâ€, if we might say, of the knights. The chain that was built through the expansion of the system was simple: Vassals (peasants) served the knights; the knights were the warriors of the nobility, who, in return, protected the vassals and; of course the king was at the head of them all.
â€œThe political relations of the feudal systems were merely the relations within the nobles with respect to the rest of the nobility, and the relationship of the nobility with the monarchy, which is the summit of the feudal hierarchyâ€ (qtd. In Diccionario Enciclopedico Espasa, 763). The Germanics and the Romans had the same political views and laws, which sparked what is known as feudalism. The combination of these two societies and the social alterations are the main factors that stem from the power of Germanic aristocracy, from land dominion, and their way of electing the monarchy. The confrontations avoided a central power. The relationships were bonding and hereditary. According to Espasa Encyclopaedic Dictionary: â€œIn the beginning, the fief had a vital character, disappearing at ones death but, from the XI century, it was...