Term used by historians to describe the social structure from the fall of the. Roman empire, emerging in the late 9 th century. vassals: holders of land by feudal tenure on conditions of homage and allegiance. serfs: free workers of the lord, inherited, basically property. describes a set of political, social, and economic values in which public power lay in the hands of the private. Top in feudalism, beginning in 9 th century. owed allegiance to the king, but had independent power bases. collected taxes, administered justice, raised private armies. Social crisis, economic dislocation, plague, and war: 1300-1500: little ice age. significant and abrupt cooling leading to a shorter growing season, decline in agricultural productions, famine, and starvation. weakened society before plague: black death. bubonic plague on rodents from china www. notesolution. com. began in the 14 th century, outbreaks on and off.