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The origin of feudalism Feudalism is the name given to the political, economic and social system in the medieval Europe between the ninth and thirteenth centuries. After the Carolingian Empire, Europe was divided into numerous kingdoms. The kings were very weak. They had no armies and could not protect his lands from the new invasions that affected Europe (Vikings, Hungarians and Saracens, name used to refer to the Muslims during the middle ages). They asked for military help (warriors) to protect population. These nobles receive lands for their services. 1.2 Feudalism: a new system Men who supplied help to the king were given lands, called fiefs or manors, in compensation and they became nobles (barons).The peasants living in these lands depended on the noble’s protection who governed in the king’s name. Nobles had their own armies and castles. In exchange for protection, the peasants had to work for the nobles, pay taxes to them and submit to their authority. They became the nobles’ serfs.Under feudalism, great nobles had complete control over their lands. The king’s power was limited to 6the lands he controlled directly.The barons became the king’s vassals by accepting the king’s supremacy. They did this at a ceremony where they paid homage to the king and swore allegiance to him.They promised to govern the land which they had been given and to provide troops and fight for the king when necessarry.

These lords could also have vassals, who were usually nobles of a lower rank. They swore allegiance to their lord and received a smaller fief. In theory, a chain of personal ties was formed, which linked the king with the nobles.   WAS A FIEF?2.1 The fief .The fief was received by noble. They exploited it. The fief was divided into: a) The Castle and the demesne: where the noble lived and the land directly under his rule. Peasants had to work few days a year in lords´ lands. The manors had a forest where nobles hunted. Peasants could only collect firewood.  b) The land: nobles used to rent plots of land to peasants so they could grow their own food. The rent was paid in money or products (a part of the harvest, cloth or animals) and work on the lord’s land.Nobles and Barons collected taxes and administered justice in their territories. Peasants had to pay a tax to use the mill, the press or the oven. The merchants had to pay a tax to pass the bridge.MEDIEVAL SOCIETY Society was divided into 3 groups called states: the nobles, the clergy and the third state (peasants, freemen, craftsman, merchants and serfs).  The nobles were the knights and their families. The clergy were the monks and the priests. The workers were peasants and merchants. a) Nobility: we could distinguish between high nobility (counts, barons, marquises…) and low nobility (knights). They were a privileged state: they didn´t pay taxes, owned lands and fiefs. – High nobility, were feudal lords, they were rich and powerful and had their own armies. 

Low nobility (knights): they fought for their lords as soldiers, their duty was to defend the population. (They only had their weapons, used to serve as vessels of a lord.Noblewoman: – The role of the woman in the feudal society was to marry and have children. – Marriages were arranged by parents.  organised the servants,educated the children and did sewing – The noblewoman had to obey their husbands in everything. b) Clergy: The Catholic Church was present in all Western Europe. The Pope was the head of the Church. Kings were supported by the Catholic Church. Bellow the Pope the church was divided into two groups:  – Secular clergy. It included bishops and priests. Priest depended of the bishops. They didn´t belong to an Order.  – Regular clergy: were members of an Order.  Each order was led by an abbot, below him there were monks, friars and nuns. One of the most famous orders was the St Benedict Order (ora et labora). In this state were differences between high clergy and low clergy:  High clergy: were formed by the major positions in the Church (bishops, abbot) which were for nobles.  Low clergy: priests, friars, monks, were freemen and lived such as poor people. Life in Monasteries The Monastery was divided into three main parts:  The cloister: it was the centre of the monastery. It is surrounded by the scriptorium (the place where monks copied manuscripts by hand), refectory (the dining room, monks used to eat and pray there), the church, the kitchen and the monk’s rooms.  

 The guesthouse: it was the place where pilgrims were welcome The barns: the place where they kept the wheat they received from the tithe.  The orchard: the monks worked here- Those women who did not may went into convents.c) Peasants: ninety percent of European population were peasants. Most lived in a fief, however there were differences:   – Serfs: they were under lord´s authority. Some of them had to work on the demesne and others were domestic servants. They could not leave the fief, or get married without permission. They weren´t paid for their work, so they must pay taxes.  – Freemen: they could leave the fief and make personal decisions. They paid taxes to the lord, however they kept a part of the harvest. The peasants usually lived in small villages. Their houses were made of mud and wood, and had one room. Peasants were self-sufficient. They grew food, made clothes and furniture, and built their houses. However, they did not live well. They hardly ever ate meat or fish. Illness was often fatal and few people reached the age of forty. Disasters, such as drought, floods and plague caused many deaths.4. MEDIEVAL ECONOMY The base of medieval economy was the fief. So, agriculture was the most important sector. The most common crops were cereals. Farming techniques were primitives they used the roman plough and wooden tools. They used a crop rotation system, it means one part of 3 left as fallow land, and the other was cultivated. The following year crops rotated. 

Livestock was primitive too, farmers grew up sheep’s, goats, oxes and pigs. Trade was not much developed. The surplus was sold in the cities (markets and fairs).  5. RELIGION AND CULTURE 5.1 Religion This period was known as a deeply religious age. The Church was present in most of the life aspects and God was the centre of the life and the only source of knowledge (theocentrism).   The Church also had a large politic and economic power, so peasants had to pay a tithe (ten percent of their harvest) to the Church. In this period the pilgrimages to holy places (Rome, Santiago or Jerusalem) began. The Church also encouraged kings and nobles to take part in the Crusades, military expeditions to take Holy lands from Muslims 5.2 Culture In the Middle Age most of the people were illiterate, only few nobles and monks could read and write. The monks in the monasteries kept books, read it in Latin, and then they translate or copy these books. Monasteries become the most important culture centers in Europe. From the 11th century on, few universities and schools were founded such as Oxford 1096 or Bologne 1088. There, subjects such as Grammar, Astronomy or Theology were learnt in Latin. 6. THE ROMANESQUE ART From the 11th to the 13th century, a new style in art spread over Europe. It was born in France, and was called Romanesque (related to Roman art).A) Architecture: the main Romanesque buildings were castles, churches, cathedrals and monasteries; made of stone, their main characteristics are:  Thick walls.  

Big and strong pillars.  Small windows, not many of them. They were dark places.  Latin cross plan with 3 5 naves.  Outside walls were supported by buttresses.  Semicircular arches.  Barrel and groin vaults.B) Sculpture: had an educational and religious function.  Images taught about Christian religion  Human figures were unrealistic, rigid and schematic; they were adapted to fit into the available space.They were painted in colours. Sculptures were made to decorate facades, altars or capitals.  The main themes were the Virgin, Christ, God in Glory and Last Judgement. C) Painting: they were rigid and schematic, the size of the figures is related to their importance, they were outlined in black, most of them were mural painting, altarpieces and miniatures.