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Life in a Medieval Village

Overview: Government (Feudalism)

Feudalism was the leading way of political and economic life in the Medieval era. Monarchs, like kings and queens, maintained control and power by the support of other powerful people called lords. Lords were always men who owned extravagant homes, called manors, and estates in the country. These men would pledge their support – including providing troops, money, food and more – to the king. They often supplied and funded the king’s wars.

Lords could have a variety of other official titles including earl, marquis, baron or viscount.

There was more to being a lord that simply funding wars, they also were the local justice and held court for local matters.

Lords provided some of their land to vassals, or tenants, in exchange for their support to the Lord. Vassals generally were required to serve guard duty, and, later, they paid a fee to acquire mercenaries (soldiers-for-hire).

Vassals were a somewhat higher class than peasants. In exchange for protection, land to work and a place to live, peasants provided the Lord with labor or a share of the produce or livestock yielded from his lands.

The feudal system broke down in the 13th and 14th centuries following massive abuses.

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