feudalism government political system topThe concept of “feudalism” developed in historical science only in the 19th century, but there is still a discrepancy between this definition’s theoretical and historical reality. It is objectively important to realize that the socio-economic life of medieval Western Europe was not reduced to relations between “feudal lords” and “dependent peasants”, but was very diverse. Yes, the basis of the “feudal order” was “peasant civilization,” but cities and free urban populations already played a significant role. A correct characterization of the concept of “feudalism” requires a comprehensive approach, and it implies an analysis of the feudal system as a whole, having broken it down artificially into subsystems: economic, social, political, cultural.

The economic structure, determined by a particular mode of production, was based on the feudal lord’s ownership of the land, realized with the help of the producer on the land – the peasant. In social relations, the emphasis was placed on exploitation by the feudal lord of the dependent peasant, the contradictions between them were assessed as antagonistic, class. The economic side of the feudal system. The land was the primary means of production and thus the main type of wealth in all pre-industrial societies. Under feudalism, land in the form of large property was at the monopoly disposal of feudal lords. And this was the first feature of feudalism and feudal property. Because the feudal lord was not a worker on the land – by virtue of the social division of labor.


The feudal lord transferred it to the direct producer, the peasant, for holding, use, and cultivation. The peasant, a small producer, was not the landowner he received from the feudal lord, but only its holder on various conditions. The maximum variant here was the hereditary holding with the right of free disposal. The economic dependence of the peasant on the feudal lord was manifested in the form of work for the feudal lord, natural and monetary payments in his favor, which was called feudal rent. An interesting feature of the eastern variant of feudalism was that the state peasants, i.e., peasants sitting on the land belonging to the state, preserved their personal freedom, being dependent only on the land. Their community existed autonomously, though under the control of the state. The rent paid by the peasants for owning the land coincided with the state tax. This type of rent is commonly referred to as “centralized rent”. Historically, this is the fourth variant of rent after servitude, product, and money rent.

As feudal, mainly agrarian society developed, the importance of crafts and craftsmen’s ownership of the tools of their handicraft labor grew in the economy. Over time, crafts were separated from agriculture, and centers of crafts and commerce emerged: cities, which existed separately from the village as the center of the agricultural sphere of activity. In the final analysis, the development of craft production determined the future development of feudal society as a whole and the transition to a new social system: capitalism. Both the peasant economy, the feudal estate, and the urban economy of the craftsman were small-scale production. Hence another feature of feudalism was small-scale production, which was the dominant form and the main structural element of the economy. The corporate character of property in the epoch of feudalism manifested itself in the social structure, characterized by a complex intertwining of class and class divisions.

Example of Feudalistics system

The feudal lord could judge, punish, and fine the peasants. Peasants’ dependence on feudal lords, both landed and personal, is called feudal dependence.

At the time of the establishment of feudalism in Western Europe, possessing a large feudal lord resembled an independent state. Feudal lords generally despised prudence and thrift. To earn the respect of other feudal lords, the feudal lord had to be generous. The income from the peasants and the spoils of war most often went for gifts, feasts, hunting, travel, clothing, and the upkeep of many servants. The rules of honor applied only in relations between feudal lords.

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