The Effects of Feudalism During the Middle Ages
This whole system of lord-vassal relationships based of fiefs, loyalty, and vassals at each level of the hierarchy and so pulled Europe out of the chaos his quarreling grandsons split the empire into three kingdoms with the Treaty of Verdun. a metaphor for social chaos and disorder. regions, and argues that “Russia is now more nearly a feudal system rather Ideal feudalism also departs in meaningful ways from the other three groups. medieval lords and vassals— their mutual rights and responsibilities, and sources of .. of order in the kingdom's territory. I have vassals with + relations, that still declare war on me when I'm . Regarding #3, in the Lord of Chaos book, everyone knows that.
Economic and social relations. The economic premises of the new social order were rooted in early medieval economy and grew out of the same social changes that made vassalic relations possible. The weakening of the Sippe not only created insecurity but also changed the economic bases of existence. The village community, far weaker than the Sippe organization, could not offer adequate security, and social cohesion took the new form of individuals seeking the protection of the powerful man in their vicinity, drawing both on the patronclient pattern of the Roman tradition and on the Germanic notion of Grundherr, the rich and strong proprietor, whose influence transcended the boundaries of his property and his direct dependents.
Such proprietors included ecclesiastical institutions as well as secular lords. Conversely, they received the protection of the establishment or the lay lord. This protection against outside fiscal, administrative, military, or juridical pressures not only made the peasant economically dependent but also initiated the process through which he lost his standing as free man and citizen.
His dealings with state authority were henceforth channeled through his overlord. In this sense, the king, who combined competences of state sovereignty often theoretical in the ninth and tenth centuries and vassalic suzerainty, lost his subjects, whom he could reach only through the mediation of their overlords.
The material basis of the vassalic contract was the fief. A seigniory might comprise anything from a single village to a large complex of villages. It was the degree of public authority and the degree of immunity from the interference of an overlord which differentiated it from a simple fief and fixed its place in the hierarchy of fiefs in the kingdom. Public power became an object of inheritance, since it accompanied the inheritance of the fiefs and seigniories.
At the bottom of the feudal ladder was the simple knight who owed to the overlord his own service and was supported by a fief just large enough to assure him a living in keeping with the standards of his class. Such a fief could coincide with a village or part of it, and its economic organization was usually described as a manorial economy. The lord of the manor also had noneconomic rights over the tenants on his manor, the most characteristic being the rights of jurisdiction deriving from land tenure.
The movement of commendation, common to all strata of society, brought about a complete transformation of its social stratification and cohesion and, finally, of the concepts of the state and its authority.
Thousands of links of dependence ran from the apex to the lowest echelons of society. Their scope, meaning, and aim changed from step to step. Whereas in higher echelons commendation created a professional caste of warriors soon to become the nobility, in the lower echelons it created a class of people serving the lords in different capacities.
As long as the service was basically military, the link of commendation created vassalage, which had come to be regarded as the only condition fitting a free man. Lower down, commendation created serfdom of varying degrees, but always connoting economic dependence, social degradation, and exclusion from the community of free men and subjects. The hierarchic principle of cohesion and dependence was sustained economically by the legal hierarchy of land and by the fixed relation of men to land.
Only where feudalization did not penetrate the depth of society were there free communities, direct subjects of royalty, and allodial entirely independent property. Ireland and Scotland preserved clannish cohesion; Frisia preserved independent communities; in Saxony and parts of Spain there were free men; and German nobility kept allodial property late into the twelfth century.
In all other territories all land except the royal domain had the legal status of tenure or dependent possession. The peasants themselves held their land as servile tenures astricted as to payments and services, which varied widely according to the type of servile tenure. But it is a striking feature of the system that the obligations of the peasant were those deriving from his own legal status and that of the land he held.
The Rise of Feudalism: 850-1000 AD
The theoretical symmetry between the status of a man and that of his holding was soon destroyed by marriage and inheritance. Stabilization of the system. Around the major features of feudalism began to stabilize and integrate into a coherent politico-economic system.
Yet, complete integration was never achieved. Rights of possession, economic privileges, and public authority often remained undefined, consequently competing and overlapping. Starting in the second half of the twelfth century, political theoreticians with legal training tried to describe the institutions of government and society as forming a logical whole.
One of the stabilizing factors was the general rule linking vassalage with fiefs and their regular, hereditary transmission. Occurring on all levels of the feudal hierarchy, it assured a solid scaffold of social structure.
Not only were the simple knight, his immediate overlord, and every lord up to the apex of the feudal hierarchy henceforth concerned with fiefs and seigniories, as pure vassalage links would have postulated, but the family as a whole became a major factor in the feudal mechanism.
On the upper level of the hierarchy, that of the great tenants-in-chief of the crown with quasi-state authority, it was the dynasty that counted. Below them, the traditional vassals of the dynasty were often regarded not only as members of the household maisnie but as a part of the noble lineage lignage. The relations between lords and vassals were often conceived in terms of family relations, and the competences of the lord were not unlike the Germanic mundeburdumor the Roman patria potestas.
Rise of the nobility. In the twelfth century a two-hundred-year-old process of class formation came to an end, producing a class of nobility. The old warrior class of the eighth century was by then a class pursuing the profession of arms, which assured it a privileged place in society and a major share in political power; moreover, it was a class which could transmit its economic, social, and political standing to its descendants, becoming, consequently, a hereditary nobility.
Despite the marked differences within the class itself, differences based primarily on the extent of political power and the control of economic resources, all fief holders regarded themselves, and were regarded by others, as the highest class in society.
The most characteristic feature of the military nobility was its new warrior ideal—the knight. Fighting should not be an end in itself but should serve social and religious ideals in a basically other-world-oriented society. Biblical virtues—the protection of women, the weak, and the poor and the defense of religion— were the aims that enabled the church to sanction war and bloodshed.
Its early, extreme theoretical formulation was by Bernard of Clairvaux, who regarded the knight as a permanent candidate for martyrdom, and its early institutionalization was in the military orders created at the time of the Crusades in the Holy Land and the Christian reconquest of Spain. The ideals of monasticism and warriorship merged into the ideal of the Christian knight par excellence.
The introduction of chivalric rites and what became in the later part of the thirteenth century a formal code of chivalrous behavior made the noble class more exclusive, thus affecting social mobility. The code became, especially after the fourteenth century, extremely formalized and served to exclude non-members who acquired economic position in non-noble pursuits commerce and banking and who, by buying fiefs, tried to penetrate the ranks of nobility.
It also excluded knights who engaged in commercial pursuits. While the nobility was guarding its ranks against outsiders, its own internal differentiation proceeded swiftly. Although social mobility existed, it tended to be rather limited.
Marriages and dowries were usually contracted in a closed class market, and marriage with a lower-born noble was regarded with disdain.
Local variations always existed—for example, social mobility was greater in England than on the Continent, and German ministeriales sometimes serfs but in any case not nobles in royal military service were ennobled and could exercise the highest state functions, even at the end of the twelfth century although Germany at this time was not yet entirely feudalized.The Roles of Lords, Vassals, and Peasants
The features and ideals of the nobility that are described above survived long after the class lost its political standing and parts of its economic position or even economic privileges. Growth of political units. Generally speaking, there were two main lines of development.
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One was the creation of strong local principalities Anjou, Normandy, Flanderswhich at the turn of the eleventh century succeeded in dominating the different seigniories in their territories, recapturing some of the public authority control of castles and mints —in some places a monopoly of the princely dynastyand often developing princely bureaucratic administrations.
This process built up the strong centralized provinces, which during the next hundred years were taken over by the Capetians and became the foundations of the kingdom of France.
The second line was followed by Germany. To create stronger cohesion and forge links of dependence, the crown tried to bring the highest nobility into direct vassalic dependence, in the process resigning to it public authority in the principalities.
The principalities, by forging vassalic links with the local nobility, were supposed to become well-ordered administrative units directed by the crown. The principalities achieved, indeed, strong governments, but the crown never succeeded in bringing them into a rigid state framework.
Legislation forced the emperor to enfeoff noble escheats, which could otherwise have enlarged the royal domain and thus strengthened his position at the expense of the princely class. Consequently, Germany never reached any degree of state unity. In desperation, Guan Yu attempted to break out of the siege but failed and was captured in an ambush. Sun Quan had him executed after he refused to surrender. His son and successor, Cao Piforced Emperor Xian to abdicate the throne to him and established the state of Cao Wei to replace the Han dynasty.
About a year later, Liu Bei declared himself emperor and founded the state of Shu Han as a continuation of the Han dynasty. Liu Bei's subjects urged him to accept Sun Quan's offer but Liu insisted on avenging his sworn brother. Lu Xun initially pursued Liu Bei while the latter retreated after his defeat, but gave up after getting trapped inside and barely escaping from Zhuge Liang's Stone Sentinel Maze. An artist's impression of Zhuge Liang. Liu Bei died in Baidicheng from illness a few months later.
On his deathbed, Liu Bei granted Zhuge Liang permission to take the throne if his son and successor, Liu Shanproved to be an inept ruler.
Zhuge Liang firmly refused and swore to remain faithful to the trust Liu Bei had placed in him. However, Zhuge Liang managed to make the five armies retreat without any bloodshed. Zhuge Liang then personally led a southern campaign against the Nanman, defeated them seven times, and won the allegiance of the Nanman king, Meng Huo.
After pacifying the south, Zhuge Liang led the Shu army on five military expeditions to attack Wei as part of his mission to restore the Han dynasty.
However, his days were numbered because he had been suffering from chronic illness and his condition worsened under stress. He would die of illness at the Battle of Wuzhang Plains while leading a stalemate battle against the Wei general Sima Yi.
The influence of the Caos weakened after Cao Rui 's death and state power eventually fell into the hands of the regent Sima Yi and subsequently to his sons, Sima Shi and Sima Zhao. In Shu, Jiang Wei inherited Zhuge Liang's legacy and continued to lead another nine campaigns against Wei for three decades, but ultimately failed to achieve any significant success.
The Shu emperor Liu Shan also turned out to be an incompetent ruler who trusted corrupt officials. Shu gradually declined under Liu Shan's rule and was eventually conquered by Wei forces. Jiang Wei attempted to restore Shu with the help of Zhong Huia Wei general dissatisfied with Sima Zhao, but their plan failed and both of them were killed by Wei soldiers.
Sima Yan then established the Jin dynasty to replace the state of Cao Wei. In Wu, there had been internal conflict among the nobles since Sun Quan's death. The regents Zhuge Ke and Sun Chen consecutively attempted to usurp the throne but were eventually ousted from power and eliminated in coups. Although stability was temporarily restored in Wu, the last Wu emperor, Sun Haoturned out to be a tyrant. Wu, the last of the Three Kingdoms, was eventually conquered by the Jin dynasty.
The fall of Wu marked the end of the near century-long era of civil strife historically known as the Three Kingdoms period. Other major influences include Liu Yiqing's A New Account of the Tales of the World Shishuo Xinyupublished in and the Sanguozhi Pinghua, a chronological collection of eighty fictional sketches starting with the peach garden oath and ending with Zhuge Liang's death.
The novel is thus a return to greater emphasis on history, compared to these dramas. Nonetheless, the description of the social conditions and the logic that the characters use is accurate to the Three Kingdoms period, creating "believable" situations and characters, even if they are not historically accurate. The antagonists, Cao Cao, Sun Quan and their followers, on the other hand, were often denigrated. This suited the political climate in the Ming dynasty, unlike in the Jin dynasty, when Cao Wei was considered the legitimate successor to the Han dynasty.
Some non-historical scenes in the novel have become well-known and subsequently became a part of traditional Chinese culture. In the introduction to the reprint of the Brewitt-Taylor translation, Roy Andrew Miller argues that the novel's chief theme is "the nature of human ambition.
Thus it has ever been", added by Mao Lun and Mao Zonggang in their recension,   epitomise the tragic theme of the novel. One recent critic notes that the novel takes political and moral stands and lets the reader know which of the characters are heroes and which villains, yet the heroes are forced to make a tragic choice between equal values, not merely between good and evil.
The heroes know that the end of the empire is ordained by this cosmic cycle of division and unity, yet their choices are moral, based on loyalty, not political.
Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. June Besides the famous Peach Garden Oath, many Chinese proverbs in use today are derived from the novel: Translation Chinese Interpretation Brothers are like limbs, wives and children are like clothing. Torn clothing can be repaired; how can broken limbs be mended? Liu Bei "borrows" Jing Province — borrowing without returning. Speak of Cao Cao and Cao Cao arrives.
The changing strength of the feudal order can be seen from two occurrences at the Zhou court. In bce the nobles jointly expelled Liwang, a tyrant, and replaced him with a collective leadership headed by the two most influential nobles until the crown prince was enthroned. In bce the Zhou royal line was again broken when Youwang was killed by invading barbarians. The nobles apparently were split at that time, because the break gave rise to two courts, headed by two princes, each of whom had the support of part of the nobility.
One of the pretenders, Pingwang, survived the other thus inaugurating the Dong [Eastern] Zhou periodbut the royal order had lost prestige and influence. The cohesion of the feudal system had weakened. Thereafter, it entered the phase traditionally known as Chunqiu Spring and Autumn.
The familial relationship among the nobles gradually was diluted during the Chunqiu period. A characteristic of the Zhou feudal system was that the extended family and the political structure were identical. The line of lordship was regarded as the line of elder brothers, who therefore enjoyed not only political superiority but also seniority in the family line.
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The head of the family not only was the political chief but also had the unique privilege of offering sacrifice to and worshipping the ancestors, who would bestow their blessings and guarantee the continuity of the mandate of heaven. After the weakening of the position of the Zhou king in the feudal structure, he was not able to maintain the position of being the head of a large family in any more than a normal sense.
The feudal structure and familial ties fell apart, continuing in several of the Chunqiu states for various lengths of time, with various degrees of modification. Over the next two centuries the feudal-familial system gradually declined and disappeared. ChinaChina under the Han emperor Wudi c. In the first half of the Chunqiu period, the feudal system was a stratified society, divided into ranks as follows: The state ruler and the ministers were clearly a superior class, and the commoners and slaves were an inferior class; the class of shi was an intermediate one in which the younger sons of the ministers, the sons of shi, and selected commoners all mingled to serve as functionaries and officials.
The state rulers were, in theory, divided into five grades; in reality, the importance of a ruler was determined by the strength of his state. The ministerial feudal lords, however, often had two or three grades among themselves, as determined by the lord-vassal relationship.
In general, each state was ruled by a group of hereditary feudal lords who might or might not be of the same surname as the state ruler.