Feudal society, or medieval society, refers to those societies that developed in Western Europe, between the 9th and 15th centuries.
The feudal society, therefore, receives its name for being the societies that develop with the appearance of feudalism. These societies were organized through vassal relations in a class society. In this sense, the feudal lord employed the population in the fiefdoms it owned, in exchange for their protection and food. This type of society based its economy on agriculture and livestock.
Feudal societies were estate societies. These had 3 estates: nobility, clergy and the people. In other words, we speak of a hierarchical social system.
These types of societies are the ones that predominate during the Middle Ages, which is why they are also called medieval society.
What is feudalism?
Feudalism is the term that refers to the political, economic and social system that developed in European countries during the Middle Ages.This system was maintained, approximately, between the 9th and 15th centuries, although it did not present a uniform character during all this time.
The main characteristic of feudalism is that it divided the population into three large social groups: lords, clergy and vassals. These categories, which were acquired exclusively by birth, determined all areas of life.
Feudal society in history
Feudal society, as we said, is the type of society that predominated throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, between the 9th and 15th centuries. These types of societies, as discussed, are born and die with the birth and death of feudalism.
Therefore, we are talking about a type of society that disappears after the appearance of modern states, as well as the seizure of power, again, by kings.
Feudal society: 3 estates
Feudal society was a class society, which was hierarchical.
In this sense, we are talking about 3 estates with a closed system. That is, 3 estates without movements between the different social classes. These estates are:
- Nobility: They were the owners of the fiefdoms (lands). In other words, the feudal lords. They controlled, along with the clergy, power.
- Clergy: In a certain way, the clergy in the Middle Ages instrumented social behavior. They had a lot of power, and they ruled alongside the feudal lords.
- People (peasants, serfs ...): They were the lowest stratum. They were in charge of cultivating and working the land.
Characteristics of a feudal society
Among the characteristics that define a feudal society, the following should be highlighted:
- They were estate societies, where there was a hierarchy.
- The hierarchical system was closed. You died in the same estate that you were born.
- Power was in the hands of the feudal lords and the clergy.
- The nobility and clergy had the rights, the rest acquired them through their work.
- The way to organize at work was through vassal relations, where the feudal lord offered food, accommodation and protection, in exchange for this working for him.
- Its economy was based mainly on agriculture and livestock.
- Trade was not frequent during feudalism.
- The tensions, and the continuous wars, did not favor the exchange between territories.
- Life was rural.
Advantages and disadvantages of feudal societies
Feudal society, like everything, had its advantages and disadvantages.
For this reason, the main advantages, as well as drawbacks, of this type of company are set out below.
Among the advantages presented by these companies are the following:
- Among the advantages, it should be noted that advantages can only be highlighted if we refer to the clergy and the nobility, since the peasant or the servant did not have privileges or rights.
On the other hand, among the disadvantages, the following should be highlighted:
- Dependence on a single source of wealth.
- Closed stamental system.
- Relations of servitude and vassalage.
- Every act was subordinate to the church.
- There was a huge inequality.
- It was based on a dictatorial system.
- Power was concentrated in the feudal lords.
Disappearance of feudal society
After a severe crisis, in the 15th century, modern States, with the seizure of power by the kings, put an end to the feudal system that prevailed in the preceding centuries.
Thus the feudal system disappears, thereby generating important changes in the social structure that these types of societies possessed.