What is Feudalism? And what are the explain its features.

(1) Introduction To Feudalism:

The term “feudalism” has been derived from the Latin word “feodum” or “feudum”. In simple words, feudalism can be defined a kind of relationship, which emerges at that time when land is held in exchange of service or labour. Different kinds of feudalism remained dominant in different societies of world. The Americans have also experienced feudalism during different periods of their history.

(2) Main Features Of Feudalism:

By keeping in mind different kinds of feudalism, followings main features of feudalism can be described:

  • (i) Weak central government
  • (ii) Emergence of local leaders
  • (iii) Organization
  • (iv) Personal relationship
  • (v) Custom & conservatism
  • (vi) Concept of production

(i) Weak Central Government:

It can be observed from history that feudalism emerged at that time when central government became weak. After weakening of central government, local landowners and other wealthy people got civil and military powers within areas of their influence. Strengthening of local landowners and other wealthy people paved a way for origin of feudalism.

(ii) Emergence Of Local Leaders:

Weakening of central government developed local leaders. The result was that central government had to depend upon these local leaders not only to govern the state, but also to defend the state against invaders. To avail services of local leader, various grants and powers were given to the local leaders within areas of their influence. In this way, local leaders were strengthened and, consequently, feudalism was further flourished.

(iii) Organization:

Weakening of central government and strengthening of local leaders originated a kind of organization. Through such organization, Kings or other such rulers were present at centre and local leaders were present in their concerned areas. Central rulers

(vi) Personal Relationship:

In areas of their influence, local leaders were in feudal relationships with tenants, peasants and other people of lower rank. With the passage of time, these feudal relationships assumed form of personal relationships. And such personal relationships were really very close and strong. For example, feudal relationship between landlords and tenants was termed as feudal family in some societies.

(v) Custom & Conservatism:

It was, in fact, custom and conservatism, which converted feudal association into personal relationship. Various customs developed regarding feudal relationship. For example, commendation ceremony was usually held to make someone vassal. During this ceremony, a landlord made some person vassal before granting him land. Such customs were strictly observed, and there was no one to resist or change them.

(vi) Concept Of Production:

Another feature of feudalism was that production of feudal society was not meant to earn money or to do business in market. Production was not sent abroad, but was used to meet internal needs of feudal society. In this way, there was no such thing as competition, because only objective was to meet internal requirements of the feudal society.

(3) Conclusion:

To conclude, it can be stated that feudalism created a kind of obligation. Due to such obligation, tenants, peasants or other people of lower rank got lands from landowners and, in return, promised to give their services to landowners. Motivations of social and economic betterment of people never worked behind concept of feudalism.

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