FEUDAL SOCIETY II — Social Classes and Political Organisation, Marc Bloch (Translated by L. A. Manyon), £1.50

Feudal Society II

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FEUDALISM — which was essentially a political and military system — was above all a personal set of mutual obligations between lord and vassal. At its heart was the oath of loyalty. Before witnesses, a vassal placed his clasped hands between those of the lord and pledged to become “his man,” a relationship usually sealed by a kiss between the two men. The vassal then took an oath of faithfulness. For his part, the lord also promised to “do justice” for the vassal and his family. If he failed to ensure such justice, the vassal might rightfully conclude that the bonds of the relationship had been broken, and that the lord was no longer owed his loyalty. Under the manorial system, the primary economic system that supported feudalism, the lord allowed the peasants to work the land on his estate(s)—or manor(s)—in return for a fixed payment.

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