The Feudal System
MOST people believe that life in the Dark Ages were wonderful and adventurous. But some forget about the peasants, serfs and vassals. These were the ones who made the noblemen and kings so great. Peasants always were working, slaving and protecting them as they ate at their abundant tables, laughing at jesters and minstrels.
These are who they were:
First of all we must talk about the Feudal System.
King: Except for being the richest man in the country and leading his men into battle, the king also gave his nobles large areas of land as a payment for fighting for him.
Nobles: Also known as lords, they were to provide knights for the king and were supposed to ‘pay homage’, which means they would swear his loyalty to the king.
Knights: These men fought for the king and nobles and later were paid with land from lords.
Peasants: These poor people worked and farmed for knights, nobles, and the king. They later won protection from their master by working as farmhands.
Most peasants whose lord’s treated them badly ran away and were known as serfs. If the lord of the manor find the serf in one year, he could be brought back and whipped, branded with hot irons or even get his hands cut off. The lord was allowed to do anything he wanted with the serfs except kill or sell them. If however he was not found after one year and a day he was free.
Once a year, a vassal would pledge his loyalty to his lord as the lord did to his king. In spite of their promises to serve and obey nobles, they sometimes rebelled against their king and peasants revolted against their lords.
In 1381, hundreds of peasants tried to win their freedom by rebelling against their lords or knights. Led by Wat Tyler, the peasants marched into London and went around rioting through the streets. King Richard II met them and swore to give them better attention but later punished all of them.
Another disadvantage was when a peasant would hunt in the king or lord’s forest; he would be dragged through the streets or even hung in public. So, the poor peasants would become outlaws and hide in the forests, choosing to steal from the minstrels or to rescue poor pilgrims from robbers.
Now that you have read of all what had happened and realize how life was then, just think about it. Really think about; what’s the difference between then and now. If you still don’t understand, try to see it in present day view:
The king—the president.
The nobles—the governors.
The knights—the soldiers.
The peasants—the common citizens.
Do you see where I’m coming from? How much has changed and how much has the Feudal System been changed till now?