Seniors, vassals, peasants. Feudal staircase

In the Middle Ages in Europe, special, different than in the ancient world, social relations – feudal. What does this mean? Public feudal lords became feudal lords. Only they were the owners of the land. Therefore, all who used the land, depended on them. The feudal lords were not equal in rank and wealth, but were divided into categories. To the highest category belonged the King – the owner of all the land in the state. He gave land to his associates and therefore became their lord, and they were considered his vassals. The vassals of the king in turn gave the land to lesser noble feudal lords and thus became lords for them, and they became their vassals. Small vassals gave the land even smaller ones, etc. So, each feudal lord was at the same time a seignior and a vassal. The king himself, the lord of the lords, was considered a vassal of God or of the Pope.

Senora and the vassal united certain mutual duties. The seigneur was obliged to protect the vassal, arm him,

feed him and even entertain him so that he would not be bored. If he was lucky, he was looking for a good wife. Vassal, who was like the child of a lord, swore faithfully to serve his lord, to be his adviser, to help him in everything. Being someone’s vassal in the Middle Ages was not considered humiliating. On the contrary, he who violated the oath of allegiance was considered a vile traitor and covered his name with shame. To be the “little child” of the lord, many even liked it, because the duties of the vassal were not very painful, meanwhile the lord took care of the safety and prosperity of the vassal and his family. Not without reason were the vassals of several, or even several dozen seniors.

There was a strict order of subordination of the lower feudal lords to the higher. He was provisionally called a “feudal ladder.” On this “staircase” each feudal lord occupied the “step” assigned to him, contented himself with the position that corresponded to his nobility.

At the end of the 13th century. one German feudalist considered himself a vassal at

once 20 lords, and one more – even 43!

Vassal listened only to his lord, to whom he swore allegiance. Therefore, even the king could not count on the support of other people’s vassals. In the Middle Ages there was a rule: “The vassal of my vassal is not my vassal”.

The vassalage as such was formed first among the francs. In the middle of IX c. the king of the Franks, Carl the Bald, ordered that “every free man chose a seignior himself.” Over time, the vassalage has spread throughout Western Europe.

Such a relationship between feudal lords most historians call feudal. But some historians consider feudal relations primarily between feudal lords and peasants.

Even at the dawn of the Middle Ages, peasants became dependent on feudal lords. Why? Most often they lost their freedom as a result of royal land grants to the vigilantes and servants. The land complained with the peasants, because without their work, she did not feed anyone.

Often the peasant himself gave himself and his allotment to the church or feudal lord, if only they protected his peaceful work in the atmosphere of violence. The impoverished peasants became dependent, to whom landowners provided land in exchange for the obligation to work for them.

Consequently, the peasants did not lose land, but the ownership of it. The land they used did not belong to them. They remained independent masters, but they had to work for the landowner, the feudal lord, and depended on him. This, they say, is feudal.

The king is the supreme ruler in a monarchical state.

Vassalage – personal dependence of some feudal lords from others, larger ones.

“Feudal staircase” – the division of feudal lords in rank and position with subordination of the lower higher.

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Seniors, vassals, peasants. Feudal staircase