Lifestyles of the Rich (and Poor) & Feudal – pt. 2 (Medieval Mondays #4c)

(Continued from part 1)

Medieval noblemanDespite the fact they resided at the top of the feudal pyramid, medieval noblemen were not all created equally.

Rather, noblemen were subdivided based on whether they were lords, heirs, or younger sons.

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Lifestyles of the Rich (and Poor) & Feudal – pt. 1 (Medieval Mondays #4c)

Medieval fealty

The medieval times, we’re well aware, hardly boasted an equal society.

Rather, the feudal system saw a single, all-powerful monarch as ruler of everyone and everything; a couple handfuls of earls or other magnates – direct liegemen of the king – below that; many more subinfeudated lords of lesser nobility below the magnates, sometimes two or three levels down; and finally, at the lowest levels of society, the non-noble peasants who held land in exchange for their labour upon it in producing their lord’s food.

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Making Rent in the Middle Ages (Medieval Mondays #4b)

Medieval knights paying a portion of their "knight's fees"

Medieval knights paying a portion of their “knight’s fees”

In modern times, rents on property are paid in money.  In the medieval England and elsewhere, however, payment for a vassal’s fief or a villein’s farmland took a rather different form.

A vassal’s assorted obligations to his lord – his so-called “knight’s fee” – were collectively deemed military in nature.  However, as mentioned in my previous post on the feudal system, this isn’t to say all of a vassal’s responsibilities involved fighting.

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Resistance was Feudal (Medieval Mondays #4a)

Medieval commendation ritual

Medieval commendation ritual

Life in the medieval times was the ultimate pyramid scheme.  It was also a perilous numbers game in which, perhaps unsurprisingly, the number that trumped everything (except when it didn’t) was one.

In the history books, all of this is more commonly referred to as the feudal system, which was the dominant structure of society in England for some four hundred years, and in continental Europe, even longer.

In this first of three post on this subject, I’ll provide a general overview of what the feudal system was.

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