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The Story Behind Feudalism in Europe

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A History of Feudalism in Europe

The Magyars were originally part of a group of people who lived in western Siberia. In 862 they began raiding Western Europe, a practice they continued for 55 years, reaching as far west as the Pyrenees Mountains. During this time, their raids were successful enough that the Byzantine Empire and several other kingdoms chose to pay off the Magyars to gain relief from invasion. Their reign was finally brought to an end in 955 at the Battle of Augsburg when King Otto I of Germany defeated them.

Between the 7th and 11th centuries AD the Arabian Muslims and the Byzantine Empire waged continuous war. The eruption of the Arabs from the Arab Peninsula (now Saudi Arabia) in the 630s resulted in the rapid loss of Byzantium’s southern provinces. Under the Abbasid Empire, which ruled from 750 to 1258, relations became more relaxed. But while the embassies exchanged periods of truce, conflict remained the norm, with almost annual raids and counter-raids, sponsored either by the Abbasid government or by local rulers, well into the 10th century.

Viking raiders struck England in 793, marking a beginning of a long war. Most of the Vikings came down from Sweden, Denmark, or Norway. In 865 AD, a large army of Danish Vikings invaded England. Alfred the Great, King of England, defeated this Danish army in 878 and restricted the Danish Vikings to the eastern part of England, known as the Danelaw.

The first instances of European Feudalism appeared in France and Germany in the 9th and 10th centuries. It was originally designed off elements of the Roman regime. Roman villas and their lands were granted to military leaders on a temporary basis as a reward for their loyalty to Rome and the emperor. It was also traditional for Romans to surround themselves with loyal soldiers who provided a substantial fighting force and offered protection. These ideas were adopted and European nobles increased their power from grants of land from the king in return for their service.

Obviously the top most position was the king in the European social hierarchy because King owned all the land in the kingdom and granted parts of it to those who proved themselves. After the king, the class of Nobles had the highest power. This class included hereditary nobles, dukes, barons. They were mainly responsible for ruling the provinces and arranging soldiers in times of war. Knights or Vassals came next. These were the people who were given the lands on lease by barons or nobles in return of their military services to the king and were responsible for protecting the barons. Then on the bottom you had the Serfs or Peasants.

Ancient Japan had a slightly different take on the feudal system but the basic idea was largely the same. The shogun (like the king) ruled the country through the daimyo (like the nobles), who were the heads of the samurai (like the knights).

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The Story Behind Feudalism in Europe. (2018, November 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from
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