the expression Feudalismus (v. lat. feudum Lehen) designates the company form of the European Middle Ages in the social sciences above all. The word Feudalismus found its spreading as combat term in the French revolution 1789. Féodalité marked the entire privilege nature over the leaning nature.

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a ideal-typical feudale society can by the following characteristics be described: Production was strongly coined/shaped of the Naturalwirtschaft. The predominant part of the population consisted of farmers. They were however not owners from them orderedCountry. This country was property basic gentlemen. The farmers were in the condition of the body characteristic, it were thus personally dependent on basic gentlemen and unfree.

The meant:

  • They were bound the country ordered by them to the Scholle (glebae adscripti) and had not the right,to leave.
  • They were subjected to the iurisdiction their gentlemen.
  • They owed the basic gentlemen Abgaben, both in the form of works (Fron) on directly from basic gentlemen the ordered country (Salland), and in the form of Naturalabgaben, which had to be applied from that piece country, thatthey managed. The Frondienste or the Naturalabgaben could be replaced in the process of the development also by money deliveries.

The property basic gentlemen was also only conditioned, because it had received it as Lehen from a noble one high-posed, which it owed for it war services. It was thusits Vasall. The chain of these dependent, Lehen connected with war service reached up to the king, whose sovereign domain of last end was all country. The political sovereignty was parzelliert downward quasi. The king was in such a system only the head of its Vasallen,to which it was bound by mutual gang of the leaning regret, but it did not have a direct entrance to its subjects. This Parzellierung of the sovereignty was typical for the entire feudale epoch. From this arose a certain development dynamism:

  1. From the Germanic time the village common land survivedor the common land. Splintering the sovereignty prevented the appropriation of this country by the Feudalherren and strengthened the position of the farmers.
  2. The Parzellierung of the sovereignty permitted the autonomous existence and development of cities. The city citizens concerned themselves with handicraft and trade and governeditself as autonomous municipalities.
  3. Splintering the sovereignty can lead to anarchischen conditions and endanger thus the existence of the feudalen state. Therefore the kings were anxious to expand their rights beyond the pure Feudalbeziehungen and to establish direct relations with their subjects, e.g. inForm of the right of the taxation. Thus they came into a contrast to the aristocracy.
  4. The church, in the antiquity a component of the state apparatus, became in the Middle Ages an independent institution, which likewise feudalisierte itself. From this frequent tensions between lay and religious rule result, to oneTear in the feudalen legitimacy to lead knew. An example for this is the Investiturstreit.


the feudale society resulted in the early Middle Ages from a fusion of the solvent antique society and the Germanic societies. After the people migration several developed in the area of the former Roman realmGermanic kingdoms. The feudalen institutions described above developed however only after the year 800 in the realm of Franconias, as a before times partially free peasantry by constant wars and invasions of the Wikinger, Sarazenen, Magyaren etc. economically ruins and in such a way into thoseDependence on the Feudalherren was forced.

  • The core region of the European Feudalismus was the north today's France, which corresponded to the ideal-typical Feudalsystem very much more than every other region. Here a singularly close leaning hierarchy with various levels of the Subinfeudation existed.
  • In south Europe (Spain, Languedoc, Italy) were stronger the leftovers of the antique ones. So more countries absolute, lean-bound property was not relative. Besides the cities disappeared not as to a large extent as in Northern Europe and them already experienced in the Languedoc and in Italy starting from that to 10. Century onenew bloom time.
  • In Northern Europe (Saxonia, England, Scandinavia) with stronger remnants of the Germanic societies it lasted much longer, until it came to the establishment of the body characteristic. In Saxonia and partly also in other areas of Germany up to 12. Century; in Sweden it could never intersperse themselves completely. In England against it the autonomous people's court barness disappeared never completely. From it the Common Law developed.

See also


  • Perry Anderson one: From the antique one to the Feudalismus, Frankfurt/Main 1978
  • Marks of Bloch: The Feudalgesellschaft, Stuttgart1999
  • January Dhont: The early Middle Ages (Fischer world history 10), Frankfurt/Main 1968

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