Nursery Rhymes

Middle Ages Feudalism

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

Would you find feudalism in the Dark ages or Middle ages?
Their is some variance in the views and definition of the dates which encompassed the Medieval period of the Middle Ages which is why so many people ask "Would you find feudalism in dark ages or middle ages?" To put this into perspective, and for ease of reference, the periods in English history have been categorised on this website as follows:

  • The Dark Ages - Anglo-Saxon England ( 410 AD - 1066 AD )
  • The Middle Ages - 1066 - 1485

However Feudalism was established in other parts of Europe prior to 1066 and the Norman Conquest of England. Therefore feudalism could be found during the Dark Ages in Europe but feudalism did not emerge in England until the Middle Ages

When was Middle Ages Feudalism established in England?
Feudalism in England was established by William the Conqueror and the Normans following the defeat of the English Anglo Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The system and structure of feudalism had been well established in Europe for some time and the Normans imposed Middle Ages feudalism in England following the Norman Conquest.

What was Feudalism in the Middle Ages?
Middle Ages Feudalism was based on the exchange of land ( Fief ) for military service, called the Feudal Levy. King William the Conqueror used the concept of Middle Ages feudalism to reward his Norman supporters for their help in the conquest of England. Middle Ages Feudalism, demanded that everyone owed allegiance to the King and their immediate superior. Everyone was expected to pay for the land by providing the following services:

  • Work days - completing any chores required
  • Providing trained soldiers to fight for the King
  • Providing equipment - clothes and weapons - for the soldiers

Middle Ages Feudalism - The Feudal Levy
When war erupted during the Middle Ages troops were raised by the Feudal Levy when there was a 'Call to Arms'. Under the Feudal Levy men were required to fight for a limited period of 40 days - under certain circumstances this could be increased to 90 days. Medieval Nobles and lords of the Middle Ages were expected to provide trained soldiers to fight for the King and to provide clothes and weapons for the soldiers. The limited time requirement of the Feudal Levy was designed to ensure that the land would not suffer from neglect.

Middle Ages Feudalism - The Pyramid of Power
The pyramid of power which was the Feudal system ran to a strict 'pecking' order - during the Medieval period of the Middle Ages everyone knew their place. The order of rank and precedence in the Medieval Feudal System was as follows:

The King
Nobles
Knights
Archbishop
Freemen
Yeomen
Servants
Peasants / Serfs / Villeins

The good thing about Middle Ages Feudalism was that is was possible for everyone to move higher up the ranks of the pyramid of power and this is what everyone aspired to do. Medieval Squires and Pages of the Middle Ages wanted to become knights. A Middle Ages Knight who proved valiant in battle or was successful at jousting in tournaments could become wealthy and ambitious because of Middle Ages feudalism. His wealth could pay for a manor house or even a castle. If his importance in the land increased it became possible for him to join the nobility. The most powerful nobles aspired to be King - and the Medieval history of the Middle Ages under the feudalism pyramid describes such coups.

Feudalism
Middle Ages Index

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