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c Nov 11 - Feudalism

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Alicia Mc Kenzie

Feudalism: history and historiography What is feudalism? Is there such a thing as the feudal system? (no.) Why must historians be cautious when talking about feudalism/ feudal society? The Historiographical problem Feudalism as shorthand - Easy way of referring to the time period; oversimplifies the age though. - EG differences in Francia and England The role of legal scholars and “feudal law” - 19 century legal scholars overuse feudalism as a term The problems of generalizations - Cannot generalize countries or ages; people want a system, but it is not that simple Lack of substitute terminology - Scholars resist idea of jettisoning the term entirely The feudal relationship (can acknowledge the social relationship) - Cooperation in war - Lords, vassals, and fiefs o Fief given to vassal in return for war service Defensive vs. offensive wars - Gradually, a limit was placed on the length of service required of vassals in offensive wars (usually 40 days) - In holy wars, contracts signed for better reward because vassals would be gone so long Counsel - Lord takes counsel with the vassals - Consultative, but not organized gov’t Aid (NOT taxation) - If going on a crusade, vassals may say no to aid (voluntary out of social relationship) o Taxation separate; if they pushed requests on vassals for aid it’s considered abuse Hospitality - Could only ask for this a few times a year, it was expensive Patterns of behavior, not a “system!” Marc Bloch French Jewish historian, WWI veteran Annales school - Focused on social structures rather than important men/events o Did throw out “Great man theory” because it says great men are the only influence o But did not deny influence of great men in addition with social constructs Part of French resistance - Killed Gustapo Marc Bloch’s definition of feudal society [slide will be posted online; may be on final exam; know excerpts] In defence of feudal/feudalism
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