Feudalism was a form of social and political organization that prevailed in Europe during the Middle Ages and has its origins in the decadence of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, as a result of numerous invasions of the barbarians and the poor economic policies of the Roman emperors.
With the decline of the Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions, the Roman nobles began to move away from the cities taking with peasants. In the Middle Ages, with various barbarian peoples dominating the Medieval Europe, it was impossible to unite among themselves and among the descendants of Roman nobles, who were owners of small clusters of land. And with cultural reforms occurred in the meantime, a new economic and political organization began to emerge: the Feudalism.
The feudal lords were the possessors of the land and the peasants took care of the farming of fiefdoms and, in exchange, received the right to a plot of land to live, and protection against barbarian attacks.
The general features of feudalism are: decentralized power, based on subsistence agriculture economy, indentured labor and the monetary economy without trade, dominated by exchange (barter). All this can only be modified with early indications of bourgeois revolutions.
Feudal society was composed of three estates: the nobles, the clergy, and the servants. What determined the social status was birth. There was also a relationship between the suzerainty Noble, where a nobleman (lord) donates a fief to another noble (vassal). Had little social mobility and social mobility was almost nonexistent.
The clergy had an official function pray. In practice, exercised great political power over a very religious society, where the concept of separation between religion and politics was unknown. Maintained order preventing the company, through persuasion and creating religious justifications, and peasant revolts signings.
The nobility (also called feudal lords) had as its main function is to wage war, and to exercise considerable political power over the other classes. The King ceded land to them and they swore him military aid (relations of suzerainty and vassalage).
The serfs were the majority of the peasant population: they were earthbound, suffered intense exploitation, were required to provide services to the nobility and the various taxes pay them in exchange for permission to use land and military protection. Although generally considered that peasant life was miserable, the word "slave" would be inappropriate. To receive housing rights in the lands of their masters, swore fealty to him and work. In turn , the nobles, to obtain possession of the manor were the same oath to kings.
The Vassals offer to the lord or suzerain, loyalty and work in exchange for protection and a place in the production system. Chains of vassalage lasted from various regions, and the king the most powerful overlord.
The European feudalism, however, presents quite different between the ninth century, when small farmers are urged to protect themselves from enemies near the castles, and the thirteenth century phases, when the feudal world knows its heyday to decline below.
In the tenth century, the system is still forming and the feudal ties bind only the landowners and former senior officials and ministerial.
There were also, The Villains, separate smaller estates among the peasants freemen. The feudal monarchy lacks the rigidity that characterizes the later monarchical regime and feudal ethics is not fully established.
However , from the year 1,000 to about 1,150, the Feudalism comes into processing: the peasant farm becomes intense, concentrated in certain overpopulated regions, leaving large areas of voids; are new cultivation techniques, new ways of using animals and carts, which allowed agricultural production to ensure a significant increase, thus resulting in the need for marketing surplus products. This revival of trade and the consequent increase in currency in circulation, rehabilitate the social importance of cities and their municipalities. With the Crusades, outlines an opening to the world, breaking the isolation of the feud.
The restoration of trade with the Middle East and the development of large cities, begin to undermine the foundations of the feudal system, in that it increases the demand for agricultural products to supply the urban population. This raises the price of the goods, allowing farmers greater funds to purchase his freedom. Not that the servants were slaves, with the surplus produced, their masters could buy lots of land and thus fails to meet its obligations to the feudal lord. Of course this could cause problems because, rightly or wrongly , the servant lived protected inside the feud, and to avoid them, they became traders or went to live in boroughs dominated by other types of masters, this time, commercial. At the same time, the expansion of trade creates new job opportunities, attracting peasants to the cities.
These events, coupled with the formation of professional armies - the King , now, would not depend over the military services of his vassals - the peasant uprising, the fever , the lack of food due to population increase and low agricultural productivity, contributed to the decline of European feudalism. In France, Netherland and Italy, his disappearance begins to manifest in the late thirteenth century. In Germany and England, however, it still remains longer, dying out completely in Western Europe by 1,500. In parts of Central and Eastern Europe, however , some remnants survived until the mid-twentieth century, for example, Russia , which would only get rid of the feudal remnants with the Revolution of 1917.