Medieval Feudalism System: Facts, Information, History
Life in the Middle Ages: The Political System, Fiefs, Peasants, Vassals, the Nobility Class, Manors, Farm Technology and Crops
Medieval society revolved around the feudal system. In this system, a grant of land known as a fief or Feudum (Germanic name for property) was exchanged for military service of usually 40 days a year. The Lord granted the land to a Vassal was a member of the feudal nobility who vowed to serve the Lord in exchange for control of the fief. With these fiefs came status and prestige. Most people lived on a Manor either as a Lord or serf. (Serfs were un-free peasants.) The Manor consisted of the castle or Manor house, the church, a wine press, a common mill, an oven, the village, the surrounding farmland and woodlands. Most of these Manors were isolated. Occasionally peddlers, pilgrims, knights and soldiers visited on their way to the Crusades or other fiefdoms. Small war spring up incessantly between the great fiefdoms.
The political system of Medieval times was based on Feudalism. The Lord had to provide a court of justice and appointed a priest. If the Lord was held for ransom, the Vassal was expected to help raise the ransom.
Serfs lived and worked on the Manor in exchange for protection. The agreement required that the peasants work the land and produce the goods that the lord and his Manor needed. Oats and rye made up the major crops cultivated by the Serfs. What little they produced for themselves was heavily taxed and much of what they produced was relinquished to the Lord of the Manor. People forged communities around the great lords for protection. Moreover, people were bound to their position in life by hereditary and tradition. They could not leave without consequences neither could they be evicted. Most serfs could not read or write. Their lives were demanding and harsh due to continuing war and the elements.
Progress in farm technology and agricultural practices included the development of the heavy wheeled plow, the tandem harness, wind and water mills, and the three field system of crop rotation.
Less than 10 percent of European society were nobility. The nobility provided both defense and political leadership. It was a status inherited by birth. A male member of the nobility class was a knight. A knight was bounded to a strict code of conduct called chivalry. Chivalry required that a knight be loyal to his Lord, courageous in battle and respectful towards women. Feudal life consisted of many ceremonies and everything was symbolic. Battles were preplanned in that the time and place were agreed upon in advance. Knights entertained themselves and the court with joists or war games.