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Advantages and Disadvantages of Feudalism
Feudalism can be defined as the identification of landed property with sovereignty – sovereignty over a parcel of land which becomes a private hereditary possession and an asset to the family. The king on receiving his fief or feud (feudalism) or estate was entrusted with sovereignty over all persons living on it. He became their law-maker, their commander and the judge.
Feudalism had its origin inmedieval Europe between the 11th and 13th centuries. It was the name given to the form of society and government of the time. However, the advent of industrial revolution in Europe brought the demise of feudalism.
Advantages of Feudalism | Merits of Feudal System
Feudalism has the following advantages:
- Feudalism was an advanced social system under the king. Many social institutions such as the economy and the political system experienced rapid development under feudalism.
- Under feudalism, the serf was freer than the slave. For unlike the situation under slavery where the master could kill the slave, the feudal lord could only sell the peasant if he failed to meet his obligations to the lord.
- There was communal ownership of property at the local level.
- The degree of alienation between the producer and his product was low under feudalism. The serf was his own proprietor, by and large, producing for the needs of himself and his family. The lord did not try to extract the maximum profit from him. The rent paid to the landlord might just be about one-third of the total produce.
- The development of urban centres into flourishing industrial and commercial areas began under feudalism.
- Feudalism led to improvements in agriculture, manufacturing, craft etc and introduction of science and technology and development of skills.
- The growth of commerce resulted in increased use of money for business and commodity exchange. The use of money also allowed the more prosperous peasants to discharge their obligations to the lords in monetary form, or to free themselves from the latter’s control altogether.
- The scientific discoveries and inventions which developed in the womb of feudalism provided the foundation for current scientific and technological development.
Disadvantages of Feudalism | Demerits of Feudal System
The main disadvantages of feudalism are:
- The system is characterized by an unconcealed exploitation of the peasants.
- The peasant is completely dependent on the landlord. He had no life of his own.
- The feudal society is chronically unstable because of the use of military force to maintain order in the system.
- There is permanent impoverishment of the free peasant farmers.
- The feudal system is basically a rural one.
- It led to the polarization of society into rich or poof and town or village.
- Feudalism constitutes an obstacle to further development of society because a large section of the society is rendered weak and unproductive by the system.