An analysis of the feudal relationship of lord and vassal

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An analysis of the feudal relationship of lord and vassal

The Frankish Kingdom was constantly divided into smaller and smaller states and for the most part, no one was satisfied with the results. There were strong kings who dreamed of reuniting the Franks under their own rule, however, in the brutality that was the 9th century, the only men of power who can be said to have made any gain whatsoever were the great landowners.

It was the landowner who provided the costly armies for the Carolingians.

An analysis of the feudal relationship of lord and vassal

They often played one ruler or against another in a constant game of mutiny, desertion, extortion and immunity from the king's representatives. Although the 9th century can be characterized as an age of confusion, the situation was made worse by a renewed series of invasions throughout the century.

Vikings from the north, Magyars from the east, and Saracens from the South plundered the continent. The great landowners raised their own armies and built castles to protect the open country. Such resistance on the part of the landowners also had the effect of increasing their authority at the same time that it made them less dependent on the central government.

An analysis of the feudal relationship of lord and vassal

The wave of invasions came to an end to the 10th century, however, European recovery was slow. Although the barbarians in England, Ireland, and Normandy assimilated themselves to Christianity, those tribes of Eastern Europe were a far more difficult group to absorb.

As result of the invasions normal communications and travel were destroyed. It was therefore necessary that local self-sufficiency, which was already strong, was intensified by the needs of security and protection. It was necessary that European society be reorganized so that each area could meet its minimum means from its own resources.

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There is little doubt that the chronic absence of any effective central government and the threat of both war and famine contributed to the general awareness of the need for security and protection.

The institution known as feudalism appeared in this atmosphere of collapsing central authority, civil war, invasion and overall economic stagnation.

The term feudalism refers to that social, political, and economic system that emerged from the experience of the 9th century. Feudalism highlighted the fact that only those men who could guarantee immediate protection and security from a war, invasion, and famine, were the true lords.

In other words, feudal society was society dominated by warriors. What people needed most was the assurance that they could depend on others when needed as a result, powerful individuals were recognized as superiors by lesser men who pledged themselves to them, promising them service.

Feudal society, then, was a society dominated by a vast network of mutual relationships based almost entirely on personal loyalty and service. This practice grew out of two primary sources. On the one hand, the tribal bonds characteristic of the invading tribes began to decline due to their Christianization.

On the other hand, the fall of Rome and its aftermath led to a general weakening of one's loyalty to the state, which had been characteristic of the later years of the Roman Empire.

So far we have established that feudal society was based on security and protection. Feudalism was also a political, economic, military, and social arrangement. Of course, if we were to ask a medieval king to describe feudalism, he would not really know what it was we were asking of him.

The reason is clear. Feudalism is the word used to describe a complex set of relationships which appeared following the reign of Charlemagne.

There is no handbook of feudalism. Because of this feudalism is sometimes difficult to describe. Added to this complication, there is a considerable degree of variation as regards how and where feudalism made its first appearance.

However, the heartland of the feudal system is in Europe, specifically that area which falls between the Loire and Rhine rivers. In general, feudalism first made its appearance in western Europe and more slowly in central and eastern Europe.

Consequently, feudalism first disappeared in the west and more slowly in the east and in Russia.

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The network of mutual relationships which together constituted what we have been calling feudal society, enabled warriors to acquire large armies and to rule over territory without necessarily owning the land or having any royal title to their rule.

Large groups of vassals would eventually became a professional military class with its own code of conduct. These military organizations appeared as a result of the absence of strong central government.

In the sixth and seventh centuries there involved the custom of individual freemen, who did not belong to any protecting group, to place themselves under the protection of a more powerful freeman. In this way stronger men were able to build up armies and become local political and judicial powers, and the lesser men were able to solve the problem of security and protection.

Men who entrusted themselves to others were known as ingenui in obsequio, or "freemen in a contractual relation of dependence. All men of this type came to be described collectively as vassals. The landed nobility, like kings, made every effort to acquire as many vassals as they could for the obvious reason that military strength during this period lay in numbers.

Of course, it was absolutely impossible to maintain these growing armies on what was provided by the lord's household alone, or to support them by payment.

What involved was the practice of granting the vassals land as a benefice or fief. The vassals were expected to live on the land, maintain their horses, and supply themselves with weapons of war.Ethics, character and authentic transformational leadership. Are Bill Gates and Lou Gerstner transformational leaders?

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