In the 20th century, two outstanding historians offered even more different perspectives. The French historian Marc Bloch, arguably the most influential medieval historian of the 20th century,[43] approached feudalism not so much from a legal point of view as from a sociological point of view by writing in Feudal Society (1939; English 1961) is a feudal order that is not limited to the nobility. It is his radical idea that peasants were part of the feudal relationship that distinguishes Bloch from his peers: while the vassal did his military service in exchange for the fief, the peasant did physical labor in exchange for protection – two forms of feudal relationship. According to Bloch, other elements of society can be seen in feudal terms; All aspects of life were centered on “domination,” and so we can speak significantly of a feudal church structure, courteous (and anti-court) feudal literature, and feudal economy. [43] The word feudalism may recall images of simple peasants working for haughty nobles, but the relationships in such systems were more complex than that. At the top of the hierarchy in the feudal system was a king who traditionally owned all the land and gave it directly to the nobles, called lords, who owned hereditary rights over it. Their tenants, called vassals, swore allegiance to the Lord and performed their military service (yes, knights in shining armor). The land (current agriculture) at the bottom of the hierarchy was worked by peasants called serfs. Serfs were not free to work anywhere else or go wherever they wanted – if the land passed from one owner to another, the serfs had to work the land for that new owner. And they had to get the Lord`s permission to do almost anything, including getting married or traveling out of the country. A broader definition of feudalism, as described by Marc Bloch (1939), includes not only the obligations of the warrior nobility, but also the obligations of the three domains of the empire: the nobility, clergy and peasantry, all bound by a manor system; This is sometimes called a “feudal society.” Since Elizabeth A.

R.`s publication “The Tyranny of a Construct” (1974) by Brown and Susan Reynolds` Fiefs and Vassals (1994) have an inconclusive discussion underway among medieval historians about whether feudalism is a useful construct for understanding medieval society. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] Unlike Bloch, the Belgian historian François-Louis Ganshof defined feudalism from a narrow legal and military point of view, arguing that feudal relations existed only within the medieval nobility themselves. Ganshof articulated this concept in What is Feudalism? (“What is feudalism?”, 1944; translated into English as feudalism). His classical definition of feudalism is now widely accepted among medieval scholars,[43] although it is questioned both by those who see the concept in broader terms and by those who find insufficient uniformity in noble exchanges to support such a model. Although such systems practically no longer exist, the term feudal system is still often heard in political discourse as a negative term for unjust forms of government. This use generally does not refer to the actual structural complexity of feudalism, but aims to make a comparison based on the inequality and injustice of these systems. In 1974, the American historian Elizabeth A. R. Brown[5] rejected the label of feudalism as an anachronism that gives the concept a false sense of uniformity. After noting the current use of many often contradictory definitions of feudalism, she argued that the word is only a baseless construction in medieval reality, an invention of modern historians who have been “tyrannically” read in historical documents.

Brown`s supporters suggested removing the term altogether from history books and lectures on medieval history. [43] In Fiefs and Vassals: The Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted (1994),[6] Susan Reynolds developed Brown`s original thesis. Although some contemporaries have questioned Reynolds` methodology, other historians have supported it and its argument. [43] Reynolds argues that the idea of feudalism was unknown and that the system she describes was not conceived as a formal political system by the people who lived in the Middle Ages. This section describes the history of the idea of feudalism, how the concept emerged among scholars and thinkers, how it has changed over time, and modern debates about its use. Even when the original feudal relations had disappeared, there were many institutional remnants of feudalism in place. Historian Georges Lefebvre explains how the France abolished the long-standing remnants of the feudal order at an early stage of the French Revolution, on a single night of August 4, 1789. She proclaimed: “The National Assembly completely abolishes the feudal system.

Lefebvre explains: Richard Abels notes that “the textbooks of Western civilization and world civilization now avoid the term `feudalism.`” [51] These sample sentences are automatically selected from various online information sources to reflect the current use of the word “feudalism.” The opinions expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us your feedback. The term feudalism has also been applied – often inappropriately or pejoratively – to non-Western societies where institutions and attitudes similar to those of medieval Europe are perceived as predominant. [14] Some historians and political theorists believe that the term feudalism has been deprived of its specific meaning by the many ways in which it has been used, prompting them to reject it as a useful concept for understanding society. [4] [5] A broader definition, as described in Marc Bloch`s Feudal Society (1939)[10], includes not only the obligations of the warrior nobility, but also the obligations of the three goods of the empire: the nobility, the clergy and those who lived from their work, most directly the peasantry, bound by a system of manorialism; this order is often referred to as a “feudal society,” which reflects Bloch`s usage. Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was a combination of the legal, economic, military and cultural customs that flourished in medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. In the broadest sense, it was a way of structuring society around the relationships that resulted from the possession of land in exchange for services or labor. Although it is derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief)[1] used in the Middle Ages, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived as a formal political system by people who lived in the Middle Ages. [2] The classical definition of François-Louis Ganshof (1944)[3] describes a series of mutual legal and military obligations that existed under the warrior nobility and revolved around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefdoms. [3] He also took as a paradigm for understanding the power relations between capitalists and wage workers in his time: “In pre-capitalist systems, it was obvious that most people did not control their own destiny – in feudalism, for example, serfs had to work for their masters. Capitalism seems to be different because people are theoretically free to work for themselves or for others as they please.

But most workers have as little control over their lives as feudal serfs. [44] Some later Marxist theorists (e.g. B, Eric Wolf) used this label to include non-European societies and to group feudalism as a “tributary” with Chinese and pre-Columbian imperial Inca societies. Most of the military aspects of feudalism actually ended around 1500. [35] This happened partly because the army shifted from armies composed of the nobility to professional fighters, thus diminishing the nobility`s claim to power, but also because the Black Death reduced the influence of the nobility on the lower classes. Remnants of the feudal system persisted in France until the French Revolution of the 1790s, and the system persisted in parts of Central and Eastern Europe until the 1850s. Slavery in Romania was abolished in 1856. Russia finally abolished serfdom in 1861.

[36] [37] In the 18th century, Adam Smith, who tried to describe economic systems, actually invented the forms of “feudal government” and “feudal system” in his book Wealth of Nations (1776). [17] In the 19th century, the adjective “feudal” developed into a noun: “feudalism”. [17] The term feudalism is new and first appeared in French in 1823, in Italian in 1827, in English in 1839 and in German in the second half of the 19th century. [17] The term feudalism has also been applied to non-Western societies where institutions and attitudes similar to those of medieval Europe are perceived as predominant (see examples of feudalism). .