Prof. Mariluz Maldonado Rodríguez History 2nd Secondary School Read the text and listen to your teacher / language assistantThe origin of feudalismAfter the Carlemagne Empire, Europe was divided into numerouskingdoms. The kings were very weak. They had no armies and could notprotect their lands.As peasants could not depend on the kings protection, they turned tothe nobles for help. Nobles had their own armies and castles. Inexchange for protection, the peasants had to work for the nobles, andsubmit to their authority. The became the nobles serfs.Feudalism: a new social systemUnder feudalism, great nobles had complete control over their lands.The kings power was limited to the lands he controlled directly.Barons governed in the kings name in exchange for a fief or manor.The barons became the kings vassals by accepting the kingssupremacy. They did this at a ceremony where they paid homage to theking and swore allegiance to him. They promised to govern the land thatthe king gave to them, and to provide troops and fight for the king whennecessary.These lords could also have vassals, who were usually nobles of alower rank. They swore allegiance to their lord and received a smallerfief.In theory, a chain of personal ties was formed, which linked the king withthe nobles.However, there were frequent wars in this period. Sometimes, thenobles fought against the king or against other nobles. At other times,the king tried to take a nobles land by force.The powers of the king and his courtUnder feudalism, the kings power was very limited.The court was formed by a group of lawyers, clergy and soldiers. Theyhelped the king to govern. Their decisions usually only affected the kingslands.The kings army was small. Defence depended on his vassals privatearmies. When his kingdom was in danger, the king called on the noblesfor help.The kings main income came from his fiefs and from some towns. Hecould not charge taxes in his vassals lands. In special circumstances,such as wars or marriage agreements, the king received help from theChurch and important nobles. Did you know? Many kings received a cognomen, or a nickname, referring to aparticular feature or even related to them, for example, William the Conqueror, Ethelred the Unready, or Ricard the Lionheart.
Prof. Mariluz Maldonado Rodríguez History 2nd Secondary School Describe the illustration Match the words and the definitions. serf fief vassalA. Land granted to a noble by the king or a higher noble.B. A person who received land from the king or a higher noble in return for homage.C. A member of the lowest feudal class obliged to work for a noble. Read the sentences. What do they refer to?a. Under feudalism, the king did not have much of this: __________________________________b. It was formed by a group of lawyers, clergy and soldiers: _______________________________c. It was not very big: ______________________________d. The king asked them to help him when his kingdom was in danger: _______________________ Think and discuss:a. Who are the people in the illustration?b. What do you know about King Arthur and his legend?c. Have you seen any film or read any books about King Arthur?