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Feudalism is a system of political, social and military structures, which was based on ownership of land, taxes, loyalty and military. The Feudal system was used widely in Western Europe during the high middle ages. In post-conquest medieval England, land was not owned, as it is now, by anyone but the monarch. Instead it was held by tenants, for the lords (or occasionally ladies) in return for the obligation to perform some service. This was the feudal system, with the King at the top of the ladder, his direct tenants (tenants in chief) beneath him, and lower still under-tenants of various sizes, down to the peasant farmers who held a few acres in return for labouring on the land of the local lord. An example of this is where, the King would protect the common villages, in exchange for a portion of their crop. The feudal system was originally adapted as the Kings could not keep law and order all over their lands.

 Under the feudal system, people were divided into three main classes, Tenants-in-chief, tenants and peasants, all ruled by the most powerful member of society, the King. The King owned all the land and divided different sections among his soldiers and priests. The first people under the King were the Tenants- In-Chief, which not only included the King’s best knights and soldiers, but also the leading church men. Tenants- In-Chief were given land and the King's blessing, for exchange for loyalty, their support and they also had to pay taxes.

 Tenants in return for their land and protection, gave the Tenants-In-Chief taxes, loyalty, advice and soldiers. The King divided his land into strips, which were farmed by peasants. The peasants were the lowest and the largest group in the Feudal System. Most peasants did not own any land and were very poor having to pay taxes to the King for their protection. Some of the peasants were known as serfs and were basically the property of a tenant, who they called their lord and had to do what they were told.

 Serfs were also forbidden to leave their properties without permission. There were not many peasants who actually owned their own land, but rented their land from the King. Payments were usually animals, crops or even labour.


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