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HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Manorialism, Estates Of The Realm, Stirrup

Course Code
Kenneth Bartlett

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September 20th, 2010
Feudalism and the Three Orders of Medieval Society
(Middle Ages)
Feudalism and the structure of medieval society the engines that drove change
in society
Feudalism: fragmentation of political power that was necessary when the Roman
Empire disintegrated
This internal dissolution required a new means of government (had to use what
was available; this being the traditions of the great Roman Empire
Exclusive privilege to govern was dissoluble
Roman imperial system thus broken down; leading to localization of power. In
turn, power and political authority resided in those who owned land (i.e. land =
power, power conducive of land ownership)
Control of land land all forms of power, owners had the privilege of judging
those who lived on the land, right to claim a proportion of produce and labour,
right to claim military assistance of the serfs if required
Political units were irrelevant concepts; the locality in which you lived, whose
land you lived on, is what mattered
Political power included legal jurisdiction; these rights and priveledges could be
divided, bought, mortgaged
These personal possessions = power
Private arrangements among individuals became the law
The essence of feudal society: the idea of public power in private hands
Possession of land linked to military service
Collapse of Roman Empire meant the localization of authority, in other words;
someone had to govern
Introduction of new technology (the stirrup from the East):
Things become more difficult with the introduction of new technology
For ex. The nature of European society changed with the intro of stirrups from
the East (soldiers easily fell off horses, thus something was needed to maintain
balance = stirrups)
Those who could fight on horseback and carry armour would have a military
Horses, stirrups, and armour were measures of privilege that could provide
protection for society (8th/9th cent)

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Source of protection important with threats of the barbarians
People who owned lots of property would be trained on horseback
Link btw military service became prerogative of those who owned substantial
amounts of land, this class later developed to become the nobility (i.e. knights,
trained to provide a specific service such as protection)
Barbarian tribal leaders began to realize they were having trouble holding them
off, began giving away more of their property to those who could fight on
The only thing that mattered was where you lived, the person that could protect
you, and provide security and some form of government
Kingdoms began to dissolve and fragment; owned by men who fought on
horseback creating class of professional warriors (the nobility)
Feudalism: Method of government had to provide protection, justice. This power
would be assumed by local lords on the land in which you lived, everything a
government would do, the lords would do (monopolies on political power)
Any group of power will try to define society. If one has power and influence, it
will be used to reflect and suit ones needs
Took problem of social fragmentation and redefined it as a means of social and
political organization based upon the ownership of land, and those who could
fight on horseback
Held a monopoly on social power (prestige) allowed way of life to be turned into an
ideal; known as chivalry model of behaviour based upon what these people did
( i.e. what was just and appropriate)
From feudalism develops a structure of society
In order to have a functional civilization rules are required that apply to
Instruments are used to sustain political authority; power often works against
those who have no power
Structure of society becomes relatively fixed in the Middle Ages everyone had a
role that was divinely ordained; each estate had certain privileges
The Three Estates
There were 3 classes (or estates) in Feudal Society: ones classification into a
particular estate determined by occupation/birth/(Gods plan estates believed to
be divinely ordained, part of a universal plan)
Monarchs at the apex of these hierarchical societies that were based on status
1st estate: Clergy paved mankinds way into heaven/those who pray
2nd estate: Nobility kings, queens, nobles/those who fight
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