Feudalism: Meaning, Definition, Origin, Features, Advantages And Disadvantages

Table Of Contents
1. Meaning Of Feudalism
2. Origin Of Feudalism
3. Features Of Feudalism
Definition And Explanation Of Feudalism
Feudalism is an ancient political and economic system that was based on hierarchial and economic system that was based on hierarchial orders of land ownership. It is a social system based on personal ownership of land resources and personal fidelity between the lord and vassals (subjects). The king (LORD) on receiving his feud (or estate) was entrusted with sovereignty over all persons living on it. He became their law maker, their commander and the judge.
Origin Feudalism has its origin in medieval Europe between 11th and 13th century when land was considered an important economic wealth and source of political power.
However, this process of land ownership continued until 1917 when industrial revolution in Europe brought death of feudalism and thus capital was used in place of land as source of power.
Features Of Feudalism
1. The lord is the final authority in the estate.
2. It has hierarchial order of ownership of land.
3. The lord or master, subjects his land to the vassals (or self or tenants or subjects) in return for loyalty and services.
4. Citizenship and political participation is subjected to land holding.
5. The land owners protect the vassals.
6. The system is characterised by close bond between the lord and vassals.
7. Ownership of land is vested on the kings, monarch or Emperor.
8. Sovereignty was identified with land and property.
9. If a vassal died without heirs, his property will be reverted to the lord but if the sons are ready to serve the lord as well as fighting for hime just as their father, his property remains with the sons.
10. Decentralization of authority of government is another feature.
Merits And Advantages Of Feudalism
1. Feudalism gave some order and avoided total chaos by bringing together the strong sentiments of personal loyalty connected with the possession of land.
2. Feudalism provided temporary frame work of order on which a true and reliable nationals life could grow.
3. It fortered among the big land lord, self reliance and love of personal independence.
4. Feudalism succeeded in keeping alive the spirit of liberty in medieval Europe.
Demerits Or Disadvantages Of Feudalism
1. It was difficult to differentiate private right from political right. The idea of private ownership of land makes one to have political rights thereby silencing land citizens.
2. It brings about anarchy. This was because of the highly decentralized nature of the system with competing feuds.
3. The system was exploitative and in democratic. The self or vassals were hulked at the mercy of the land owners.
4. Loyalty and obedience is not to the government but to the land owners.
5. Much emphasis was placed on independent private ownership of land. Such a system couldn’t involve in any modern political system.
6. The land lord was autocratic. He could not have been challenged by the freemen working for him. He had legislation powers.