Feudalism and Land Essay

7806 Words Oct 19th, 2009 32 Pages
Did the Advantages of Feudalism outweigh the disadvantages?

In order to attempt to answer a question such as this we must briefly describe the Feudal system then look at the advantages of having feudalism as a system and also the disadvantages and then secondly look at the alternatives if there was no such system in place.

Let us first look at the Feudal system itself. The Feudal system was introduced to England and spread throughout Britain by William the Conqueror after 1066 and the Battle of Hastings. Normandy and indeed most of France already had a form of Feudalism in place and King William required a hierarchical system of security which guaranteed him loyalty, particularly in the form of an army. Feudalism was the key.
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Having been given land by the king, the barons had to raise a number of knights who would serve him, for example by taking a number of knights into his household and feeding and providing for them, on the chance that they would be needed, but this was a costly way to secure their service. Given this, most barons would grant smaller fiefs to their vassal knights. On these fiefs, the knights could grow crops or support their families. In exchange the knights promised to be part of their baron’s military contribution to the king and part of the baron’s escort if he travelled. The knight’s vassal was the peasant, the poorest social class of medieval society. For labouring on the knight’s land, the peasant would be granted a small portion to work for himself. It was in this relationship to land that the positive and negative aspects for each of these groups in feudal society can be most clearly seen.

Those closer to the top of the feudal system had most advantages. For the king, there was the obvious advantage that he had an army ready to serve him the moment he required them, as well as a group of powerful men who supported him. Perhaps it was the barons, though, who gained most from the feudal system. They were given land, and frequently other gifts to encourage them to support the king. In return they had few arduous duties to perform. The knights were well off under the system as well, as they were given land, and occasionally food. The peasants also

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