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Foundations of Feudalism in European Governments

Foundations of Feudalism in European Governments

Feudalism was the foundation of the European government. The structure of feudalism was incredibly unbalanced, which was the main reason for its downfall. When the Roman empire fell, it left many wealthy landowners spread throughout the European countries. For every wealthy landowner there were many more poorer. They decided therefore to commend themselves to landlords, surrendering to a lord in return for safety and the right to farm the properties. This was the beginning of the feudal nations.

The children of the men who owned the land would inherit the land as well as any other property owned by their fathers. This tradition kept rich people rich and poor people poor. People who exchanged their land for protection were shielded from opposing enemies by knights and horsemen. The primary defense for a lord was his knight. The knights formed the core of the lord’s household. Many of them lived permanently within the castle walls and were fed and housed by him. Knights that were given homage by their lords did not really need any land but were still paid in fiefs, which were stretches of land paid to whomever. These household knights did not need a grant of land on which to live, though they often received it all the same. This showed the favoritism the lords and kings had and expressed it through the upper class citizens.

While the basic feudal system was working out wonderfully for the higher ranked officials, the peasants were getting short changed from the very beginning. The peasants, who supported their society by their hard and dirty work, were getting no credit. The peasants had to suffer the dirtiest work while getting almost nothing in return. For the poorest peasants the threat of starvation was never far away, and there was rarely enough money for anything but the bare essentials of life. Low income for peasants was mainly due to the high taxes and the low wages. Officials in office had the exact opposite with high wages and low taxation. The whole social structure of the government was completely unbalanced. The higher statesmen appointed friends and relatives into positions of power based on a social scale, not by ability. The system of assigning positions based on popularity was unfair to the lower class people.

Although Feudalism held together for nearly ten centuries, the governmental...

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