"In the following pages I have tried to explain, as simply and concisely as possible, the historical significance of the feudal system. . . . My purpose has not been to give a comprehensive description of Europe in the feudal age, or even of feudal society. I have taken for granted that the reader will be familiar with the main political events of the Middle ages: the barbarian invasions, the formation of the Carolingian Empire, the establishment of the later monarchies, the Crusades, and the like. I have omitted all but cursory mention of the manorial system and the revival of commerce . . . . I have, in other words, restricted the discussion to the few institutions that may be said to have constituted feudalism proper, or to have been peculiarly associated with it."—from the PrefaceThis reprint of the first single-volume work in English (originally published in 1942) to treat the principles of feudalism gives a clear and concise account of the origin, growth, and decay of the feudal system. Special attention is paid to the principles of feudal tenure, chivalry, the military life of the nobility, and the workings of feudal government, as illustrated by actual cases.
The conflict between landlords and peasants over the appropriation of the surplus product of the peasant holding was a prime mover in the evolution of medieval society. In this collection of essays Rodney Hilton looks at the economic context within which these conflicts took place. He seeks to explain the considerable variations in the size, composition and management of landed estates and investigates the nature of medieval urbanisation, a consequence of the development of both local commodity production and long distance trade in luxury goods. By setting the broader economic context – the nature of the peasant and landlord economies and the commercialisation of peasant production – Hilton's essays enable a thorough understanding of the relationship between landlords and peasants in medieval society.
This volume brings together articles (including two hitherto unpublished pieces) that Susan Reynolds has written since the publication of her Fiefs and Vassals (1994). There she argued that the concepts of the fief and of vassalage, as generally understood by historians of medieval Europe, were constructed by post-medieval historians from the works of medieval academic lawyers and the writers of medieval epics and romances. Six of the essays reprinted here continue her argument that feudalism is unhelpful to understanding medieval society, while eight more discuss other aspects of medieval society, law, and politics which she argues provide a better insight into the history of western Europe in the Middle Ages. Three range outside the Middle Ages and western Europe in considering the idea of the nation, the idea of empire, and the problem of finding a consistent and comprehensible vocabulary for comparative and interdisciplinary history.
This up-to-date discussion takes as its starting point the challenge to the traditional notion of feudalism in the twenty-five years since the publication of Jean-Pierre Poly and Eric Bournazel's work on the 'mutation feodale' and Susan Reynolds's attack on the very idea of a feudal society in the Middle Ages. While these challenges have presented a new picture of Western Europe in the so-called feudal age, one more focused than the traditional model of feudalism was, no new scholarly consensus has yet emerged. The volume has two objectives. Firstly, it discusses the present state of research, bringing together leading representatives of the various interpretations of feudalism. It examines the character of medieval society, including questions of landholding, government, and the relationship between king and aristocracy. Secondly, it provides a new geographic perspective on the subject by considering countries little discussed from a feudal perspective. In addition to discussing countries that have been prominent in previous studies of feudalism such as England and France, the book also includes contributions on Germany, Spain, Scandinavia, Hungary, and Romania, thus supplying a truly European perspective and a comparative view of social structure in different regions of Europe.
Theodore Evergates has assembled, translated, and annotated some two hundred documents from the country of Champagne into a sourcebook that focuses on the political, economic, and legal workings of a feudal society, uncovering the details of private life and social history that are embedded in the official records.
This is a comparative study of the role of English and French towns in feudal society in the middle ages. In bringing together much material which dissolves old categories and simplifications in the study of medieval towns, Professor Hilton provides an important new perspective on medieval society and on the nature of feudalism. He argues that medieval towns were not, as is often thought, the harbingers of capitalism, and emphasises the way in which urban social structures fitted into, rather than challenged, feudalism.
The rise of the modern absolutist monarchies in Europe constitutes in many ways the birth of the modern historical epoch. Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism, the companion volume to Perry Anderson’s Lineages of the Absolutist State, is a sustained exercise in historical sociology to root the development of absolutism in the diverse routes taken from the slave-based societies of Ancient Greece and Rome to fully-fledged feudalism. In the course of this study Anderson vindicates and the refines the explanatory power of a Marxist conception of history, whilst casting a fascinating light on Greece, Rome, the Germanic invasions, nomadic society, and the different patterns of the evolution of feudalism in Northern, Mediterranean, Eastern and Western Europe.
Some of the liveliest and most fruitful debates in recent historical writing have been about the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Rodney Hilton's vast and distinguished body of work on medieval society has been a major reference point in these debates. Throughout his work the dominant theme has been his argument that the “prime mover” in the development of medieval society was the conflict between landlords and peasants over the appropriation of the peasants' surplus product. This is the class conflict which gives the present volume its title. This wide-ranging collection, updated to include some of Hilton's most recent writings, explores not only the peasant economy and peasant movements but also the nature of towns and their principal classes. Essays include a fascinating study of women traders in medieval England, and an account of medieval tax revolts—all informed by his lucid, undogmatic attention to broad theoretical issues as well as to empirical detail. This is a book not only for historians, but for anyone interested in the evolution of capitalism or the larger questions of historical process and social change.
This is the second collection of studies by Stephen D. White to be published by Variorum, the first being Feuding and Peace-Making in Eleventh-Century France. The essays in this volume look principally at France and England from Merovingian and Anglo-Saxon times up to the 12th century. They call into question the conventional practice of studying kinship and feudalism as independent systems of legal institutions and propose new strategies for examining them.