THE MIDDLE AGES. FEUDALISM María Jesús Campos learningfromhistory.wikispaces.com
FEUDALISMAfter the fall of the Western Roman Empire there wasno central government in Europe. During the MiddleAges different kingdoms and empires fought witheach other to control the territory.After the Carolingian Empire disappeared, Europewas again in constant fight.
People felt a lack of security. They couldn’t travel from one place to another, trading routes were interrupted and sometimes when territories were invaded, people were in danger even in their own houses.
However, the kings had no professional armies to protect the land and the people. So, peasants turned to the nobles for protection as nobles were able to pay their own soldiers. In exchange for protection, peasants had to work for the nobles and submit to their authority. Sometimes they also gave them their lands.
This created a new social system which is called Feudalism. Feudalism was a social system developed during the Middle Ages. It was based on ties of loyalty and duty between the lord and his vassals.
In the feudal system, all the land in the kingdom belonged to the king. But as he didn’t have enough soldiers to protect it, the king kept a quarter of the land for his own use and gave the rest to his followers or vassals (usually noblemen) for them to protect the territory and its inhabitants.
The king gave the land or fief to his vassal at a special public ceremony. The vassal knelt before the king and promised to be loyal to him, to supply soldiers to protect him, the land and its inhabitants. If the vassal was not faithful to his promise the king could take the fief back again.
When a king’s vassal also called lord, got land from the king he also divided it among his own followers, his vassals. They were called knights, as they were soldiers who rode into battle on horse back. The knight promised to fight for the lord and protect his own territory and inhabitants.
Kings, lords and knights got their power from the land but they did not farm it. This work was done by the peasants. Peasants worked from dawn to dusk and had to pay heavy taxes to the king, to the lord and to the Church. Most of them could not leave the fief and had
King Lords (nobles, important clergy) They were the king’s vassals Knight’s They were the lord’s vassals Workers: mainly peasantsThey farmed the land and produced goods
THE FIEF: THE MANORIAL SYSTEM A fief or manor was the land given by the king to a lord or by a lord to a knight for him to protect it and its inhabitants. Each fief had: A castle A village The demesne Plots of land Forests Mill, oven, bridges, roads, etc.
The castle, in which the lord lived and which sheltered peasants when the fief was under attack. The village, in which some peasants lived. The demesne was the part of the land that the lord kept for himself to obtain his own nourishment. It was farm by his serfs who gave all the production to the lord.
The rest of the land was divided into plots of land that were rented to the peasants so that they could grow their own food. The rent was paid in money, products or work on the demesne. Forests belonged to the lord who decided when peasants could hunt or collect firewood there.
The mill, the oven, the roads, bridges, etc also belonged to the lord and peasants had to pay taxes or tolls to use them. There were no shops in the village becauses peasants grew their own food and made the goods they needed. The lord administered justice and collected taxes.
MEDIEVAL SOCIETY Medieval society was divided into three groups called estates: Clergy were the monks and priests that worked for the Catholic Church. Their duty was to pray for the spiritual salvation of the people. (oratores) Nobles were the lords, knights and their families. Their duty was to protect the population and the land. (bellatores) Workers were mainly peasants but also craftsmen and merchants. Their duty was to produce the food and goods needed by society.
There were two types of estates: Privileged estates that comprised the clergy and the nobles as their duties were considered the most important for society. Because of that, they did not pay taxes or have to do manual work, they could not be tortured and they could hold political power. Non privileged estates were formed by the workers. They had to pay taxes, do manual work, they could be tortured and could not hold political power. Everybody was born into a estate, except the clergy, and could not change his or her estate.
THE NOBLES: NOBLEMEN AND NOBLEWOMEN Nobles were the most powerful people during the Middle Ages. Their duty was to protect the population and support the king. Types of nobles: Some were very rich and owned large fiefs. Others owned small fiefs or only their horse and weapons as knights. They followed the code of chivalry, certain rules that meant that a noble had to obey his lord, show respect to women of noble birth, honour the Church and help people.
The most important function of noblewomen was to marry and have children to continue the family line. Nevertheless, when the nobleman went to war, the noblewoman run the fief and was in charge of its government and protection. Marriages were arranged by parents. If a noblewomen did not marry, she usually entered
Nobles lived in the castle. The castle was built to withstand attack during times of war. They were often constructed on high ground so that they could see if somebody was coming. They were built of stone. They had different parts for the people to live and others to be used as storerooms for animals, tools and food. The castle had a big patio. If the fief was attacked, peasants and serfs took shelter in the castle.
The clergy In the Middle Ages, people were very religious. Everyone in Europe was a Christian except for a small number of Jewish people. The head of the Church was the Pope. He lived in Rome and ruled over the Papal States on the Italian Peninsula. The Pope had great influence and could annoint a king to make people support him or he could excommunicate a king, thereby taking away the people’s support.
Below the Pope, in the different kingdoms, the Church was divided into: The secular clergy The regular clergy The Pope Secular Regular Clergy Clergy Bishop Abbot Abbesse Priests Monks Nuns
The secular clergy lived between the people in the villages and the fiefs. Their leaders were the bishops who had special churches called cathedrals. They controlled a large area called diocese that was divided into parishes. A priest worked in each parish. Priests were important among peasants as they baptized them, married them, attended them when they were sick and usually they were the only persons who could read or write. Peasants paid a tax to the Church. It was called the tithe as it represented a tenth of their crops or income.
The regular clergy were members of religious orders. They were Christians who went to lonely places to pray to God, they didn’t live among normal people. They lived in a monastery an were called monks. If they were women they lived in a convent and were called nuns. Each monastery was ruled by an abbot, each convent was ruled by an abbesse. Monasteries owned their own lands or fiefs where peasants worked. Some religious orders were closed so their members could leave the convent or monastery.
The functions of monks and nuns were: To pray for the spiritual salvation of the people To educate noble boys and girls To copy manuscripts on the scriptorium to preserve them. To prepare medicines using herbs. Some convents and monasteries acted as hospitals and pharmacies. Sometimes travellers could get a free night’s shelter in a monastery.
As peasants paid the tithe to the Church, some noblemen or noblewomen would give money or properties to the Church after their death, and some monasteries and convents had their own lands or fiefs, the clergy became very rich.
PEASANTS 90% of the population was composed of peasants. Most lived on a fief and worked on the lord’s land. There were two types of peasants: Freemen owned the land they worked but had to pay taxes to the lord and priest. They could leave the fief if they wished and married anyone they chose. Serfs belonged to the lord. They could not leave the fief or get married without his permission. They had to work on the lord’s land without a salary and they had to pay taxes to the lord and the priests.
Peasants lived in small villages. Their houses were made of mud and wood and had only one room. People and animals shared the house. Peasants were self- sufficient, they grew their food, made their clothes and furniture and built their houses. Peasants worked year-round from sunrise to sunset. Peasants only took a break from work and went to church on Catholic feast days. Peasantwomen and children also worked in the fields. Children didn’t go to school. Most peasants couldn’t read nor write.
MEDIEVAL CITIES AND ECONOMY After the fall of the Roman Empire many towns disappeared, however, around the 11th century, life became more peaceful, trade increased and towns were revived.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRADE AND BANKING Trade developed quickly from the 12th century. Products were transported by land, river and sea. As trade developed, money was needed so banking techniques changed and new financial methods like payment by credit were developed.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CITIES As trade developed, cities began to grow. Some old cities were revived while new cities appeared as well. Cities had markets where the merchants went to sell their goods. Lords did not have power in the cities so many peasants migrated there to escape the lord’s authority and to find a new job. All the inhabitants of the city were free.
Most of the buildings were made of wood. Towns were very dirty. People threw rubbish over the walls attracting rats. There were no sewers and an open drain ran down the middle of the street. People threw everything into it. People walking by had to be careful that they didn’t get something nasty on their heads. The drain ran into the river where the people got their drinking water.
People seldom washed and usually had fleas. Many suffered from skin diseases. During the 14th century a terrible plague arrived in Europe. It was called the Black Death because victims turned black and died. It wiped out one-third of the European population. People thought that the Black Death was God’s punishment for sin. Now we know that it came from fleas carried by the black rat. Far more townspeople died than peasants because of the dirt of the towns.
CRAFTSMEN As the population grew, there was a greater demand for clothes and goods so the number of craftsmen increased. Craftsmen made their products by hand. They worked in small workshops. Craftsmen of the same profession often lived on the same streets which were named after their trades.
Craftsmen usually joined a guild. The guild has its own statute and established: Its members’ rights and obligations. The prices of the goods The quality and materials to be used in the products. Production The number of workers. Guilds also distributed raw materials and looked after its members and their families when somebody died or could not work.
Guilds established 3 categories of craftsmen: Mastercraftsmen owned the workshop, the tools and the raw materials. To become a master one had to pass an exam and produce a masterpiece to prove to the guild he was a skilled craftsman. Journeymen were skilled craftsmen who received wages for their work. Apprentices were young men who wanted to learn and trade. They lived in their master’s house and worked for him for at least 7 years without any payment.
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