Features of Feudalism | Characteristics & Examples of Feudal System
Feudalism can be termed as the identification of landed property with 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.
Main Features of Feudalism Form of Government
The main characteristics of feudalism may therefore be summarized as follows:
- The feudal system is based on a system of land ownership. Those who have land control those who have no land.
- The king is the head of a feudal society and all land belongs to him.
- There was no government to which the people could pay their taxes or owe their allegiance. The allegiance of the serfs is to their lords.
- In practical terms, two major classes (that is feudal lords and serfs) exist under feudalism. These correspond to the exploiter and the exploited classes respectively.
- The serf uses the land of the lord for farming and he pays a rent in return for the use of the land. He could be sold in default of payment of rent.
- There is an open exploitation of the serf and force may be used to exploit and hold down the serf.
- The feudal lord is the absolute master in his own domain and could condemn and punish at will.
- Feudalism promoted the development of new farming implements and techniques, introduction of new methods of processing raw materials, development of new farming methods (e.g. market gardening and livestock husbandry), improvisation of black furnaces for the smelting of iron, introduction of new crafts and the experience of great voyages and scientiiic discoveries of the period.
- Religion was central to the existence of a feudal society. Religion helped to legitimize feudal rule and made the people servile and obedient to the Lord. This was the period when concepts like the divine right of kings were developed.