Anthony Crubaugh

in The Oxford Handbook of the Ancien Régime

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199291205
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History


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Feudalism generally refers to a medieval system of political, social, and economic organization based on vassalage and the granting of a foedum (fief) that developed in western Europe with the collapse of authority following Germanic invasions. Medieval feudal contracts involved the establishment of a hierarchical but mutually supportive relationship among private individuals, cemented by a ceremony in which a vassal paid homage and promised material and military support to a lord in return for the lord's protection and the investiture of a fief. Although feudal contracts governed the reciprocal obligations among the noble military elite, the landed estates that served as the basis of the warrior class's economic power required the labour of peasants.

Keywords: feudalism; medieval system; feudal contracts; vassalage; military support; homage

Article.  8843 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History

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