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The factors of the demise of feudalism in europe

Analyses the factors responsible for the decline of feudalism. Or Define the Feudalism and write the causes of the decline of Feudalism. Meaning of the Term: Feudalism was a political and social system. It was based on a contractual arrangement of political and military relationships existing among members of the nobility in Western Europe during the medieval period.

The core of the contract was the land relations between the feudal lords and their vassals. The salient feature of the land contracts was the granting of fiefs, chiefly in the form of land and labour, in return for political and military services— a deal sealed by oaths of homage and fidelity. The period of the dominance of feudalism spanned from 900 to 1500.

Though its source is found in post 450 AD period, it mainly started after the period of Charlemagne. After him, the kings found it difficult to administer vast areas of land. As a result, they parcelled out their land among their vassals who assured the military assistance during the hour of need in return of the land ownership and enjoyment of rights which were transferred to them along with the land ownership.

It served its purpose for all those centuries quite well as the feudal lords became the guarantee of security of life and property of the people who inhabited their fiefdom. However, with the passage of time, it outlived its utility when new changed took place in the political, social and economic field.

It also developed some vices which became the cause of its decline. Causes of the Decline of Feudalism: The Feudalism declined due to the multiplicity of causes. Since feudalism was based on the idea of land tenure paid for by governmental work, every process that tended to alter this adjustment also tended to displace feudalism. Secondly, feudalism had overreached its utility and outlived its necessity. Hence, the decline followed when new changes took place.

Rise of Standing Armies: There rose a new system of raising troops for war. It increased the importance of money over land. This was not good for the survival of Feudalism. Fall in the importance of Knights: The Knights were the soldiers of Feudal lords who usually remained free. The Feudal lords did not want to retain them due to changes in economic conditions.

What Caused the Downfall of Feudalism?

The Knights also preferred to pay their service in the form of cash. Later they started paying it to the kings.

It reduced the importance of the Feudal Lords. The knights shifted to business fields. Money became the Power: The land was the symbol of power in the Feudal system.

But Money became the symbol of power. The king could pay wages to the soldiers and become powerful than the feudal lords.

  1. Yet conditions for the serfs themselves remained largely unchanged.
  2. The king's officers, with their knowledge of civil and canon law, able to spell out the old customs and traditions. Later they started paying it to the kings.
  3. Growth in the Agriculture Yield.
  4. Such changes took place in the 14th century. In-build mechanism of the decline of Feudalism.

The old conception of the feudal force had completely disappeared. Change in methods of fighting Battles: The change in the practices of fighting battles caused the decline of Feudalism. Using artillery, the attacking force completely dominated the defensive mode of Knights.

Fortified castles declined in value. Archers and foot soldiers increased in importance. Heavily armoured knights were becoming useless in battle. Especially on the Continent, the supremacy of foot soldiers, horse riders and arrow shooters were assured.

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Use of New Weapons and Gun-Powder: The King used guns and gunpowder in destroying the forts of the feudal lords which they could not afford to do earlier.

The new weapons, the latest techniques of warfare and extensive use of gunpowder helped the Kings to subjugate the feudal lords which ended the Feudalism. The rise to power of popular assemblies, like States General, Cortes, Diets, or Parliaments, established the growing importance of the middle class.

They became the primary cause of the destroying feudalism. Resurgence of the Judicial and Financial Authority of the Kings: All over Europe, legal kings, like Edward I of England, were rearranging the constitutions of their countries.

The king's officers, with their knowledge of civil and canon law, able to spell out the old customs and traditions. Civil, as well as criminal litigations, came into the royal courts. Finance, the royal auditing of the accounts of sheriffs, bailiffs, etc.

In-build mechanism of the decline of Feudalism: The decline of Feudalism began in the 13th century. It was bound to decline because of its internal mechanism, and with it, a particular form of administration, its economic and social setup came to end which had survived for quite a long time after having fulfilled its utility.

However, as a social system, it continued for some more time. It did not end at the same time and entirely in all the countries. Growth in the Agriculture Yield: The improvement in agricultural techniques increased the production. Europe adopted a three-belt system to get two harvests in one year. The population of Europe doubled between 1000 and 1300.

The increased production helped in the increase of population and urbanization. It reduced the dependence of the farmers on the feudal lords. The crusades took place in 1095 and 1291. The feudal lords either sold their land or mortgaged it to face the hardship of the crusades. Many feudal lords were also killed in the crusades.

It gave an opportunity for the kings to take over their land. Such factors played a decisive role in reducing the influence of the feudal lords and ultimately caused the decline of Feudalism. Emergence of Commercial class: Commerce and trade grew fast as a result of crusades. The demand for luxurious items increased due to the contact with new countries owing to crusades.

It became the cause of the rise of the commercial class. The business class had members who were richer than the feudal lords. However, they did not relish the lack of social respect for them and absence of their own interference in the administration. They gained the influence by extending the monetary help to the kings for the suppression of the feudal lords.

Importance of Commercial Cities: In Europe, trade fairs were held regularly between 1200 to 1400. They were usually an affair for three to four weeks. However, when the commercial cities emerged, the trade continued for the whole of the year.

They prepared the grounds for the commercialization which was a cause of the decline of feudalism. Labourers were needed in Cities: With the rise of commercial activities and the trade cities, the businessmen required a large number of labourers. They started enticing the farm workers of the feudal lords. It brought them in conflict with the feudal lords. Therefore, the business class needed protection against the feudal lords. That help was readily available from kings who also wanted to end the feudal lords.

The commercial class and kings joined together against the feudal lords, and the finished the feudal system. Support and acceptance the factors of the demise of feudalism in europe the institution of Kingship: The king raised the permanent army with the monetary help of the middle class which became the source of strength of the kings.

They also received the support of the other section of the society against the feudal lords. The kings imposed direct taxes and raised his own bureaucracy.

Gradually it increased the sense of nationalism. However, before that, it ended the importance of feudal features, and feudal lords were subdued. Revolt of the farmers: The farmers rebelled against the feudal atrocities when they increased the restrictions on them to move to cities. The farmers wanted the fixed wages. They received the support of the other working section of the society. Their revolts were suppressed ruthlessly. It forced them to escape them to city-states where the businessmen were ready to pay them in cash for their wages.