The Role of the Black Death in the Decline of Feudalism Essay

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The feudal system began to decline after the Black Death struck Europe in the late 1340’s. The feudal system joined politics and grouped together the social classes of that period. It began with the “relationship between two freemen (men who are not serfs), a lord and his vassal. Vassal derived from a Celtic word for servant, but in feudal terms vassal meant a free person who put himself under the protection of a lord and for whom he rendered loyal military aid.” This relationship was mutually beneficial at first, but throughout the development of the system, great restrictions were endured. During the late 1340’s a plague fostered in Europe and began to take effect onto the feudal system in place. This plague was known as the Black…show more content…
The serf provided material, military aid, and advice for the lord’s counsel. The lord provided protection for the serf, maintenance, and aid when the vassal requested. The land of the vassal, holder of he land through homage, was broken into strips of land called fief. After the homage ceremony, the lord then granted a fief to the serf. A man could then be a vassal to multiple lords and a lord could obtain multiple vassals, which thus introduced subinfeudation. This caused great complexity especially if the lords had different views and the vassals were divided. In this case, a contract was initiated swearing a serf to the main lord. Although the feudal system presented a mutually beneficial relationship at first, over time many burdens were placed on the vassals. A serf was bound to the land, thus resulting in a fixed income. Since he was unable to move to another lord, he was reliant on only what was originally agreed upon to provide monetary support. [Support was generally in kind, or in labor.] With no “right” to adjust the support needed for survival, the serf and his family experiences tremendous hardships. Burdens began to increase for the life of a serf and his vassal. Serfs were required to support the royal household by providing “contributions to a feorm (food-rent): the amount of provision needed to support the royal

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