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Thread: Feudalism

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Peter Lubke" <peterlubke@OPTUSNET.COM.AU>
    Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2002 8:30 PM


    > Of course modern historians are in grave doubt that feudal agreements
    > were as widespread as was believed in the 16th century, so perhaps we
    > are drawing parallels that have no meaning and talking at cross
    > purposes.

    There is no doubt. Feudalism was destroyed by the Hundred Years War, the
    War of the Roses, the Golden Bull, and the Black Death (just to name a few).
    The last gasp of feudalism exists at the end of the 15th century in such
    institutions as the Order of the Golden Fleece.

    Feudalism describes the relationship between a king and his lords, in which
    the lords swear loyalty (including service) for a large degree of autonomy
    in their own lands. It has nothing to do with free or unfree labor. While
    feudalism was the dominant political structure in Europe, manorialism was
    the dominant economic structure. Manorialism includes free labor, rent
    paying farmers, such as we find so many of in 13th century southern England,
    Italy, and eastern Germany. We typically associate it, however, with
    serfdom.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Peter Lubke" <peterlubke@OPTUSNET.COM.AU>
    Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2002 8:30 PM


    > Of course modern historians are in grave doubt that feudal agreements
    > were as widespread as was believed in the 16th century, so perhaps we
    > are drawing parallels that have no meaning and talking at cross
    > purposes.

    There is no doubt. Feudalism was destroyed by the Hundred Years War, the
    War of the Roses, the Golden Bull, and the Black Death (just to name a few).
    The last gasp of feudalism exists at the end of the 15th century in such
    institutions as the Order of the Golden Fleece.

    Feudalism describes the relationship between a king and his lords, in which
    the lords swear loyalty (including service) for a large degree of autonomy
    in their own lands. It has nothing to do with free or unfree labor. While
    feudalism was the dominant political structure in Europe, manorialism was
    the dominant economic structure. Manorialism includes free labor, rent
    paying farmers, such as we find so many of in 13th century southern England,
    Italy, and eastern Germany. We typically associate it, however, with
    serfdom.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  3. #3
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Peter Lubke" <peterlubke@OPTUSNET.COM.AU>
    Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2002 8:34 PM


    > > 1) There is no Romano-feudalism.
    >
    > However, there`s argument against that as well.
    >
    > Building on work of Elizabeth Brown, the historian Susan Reynolds, in
    > her Fiefs and Vassals, systematically attacked the basis of the
    > professional medievalists` version of feudalism [although she did not
    > tackle the older social and economic, or Marxist, model]. Reynolds
    > argued that recent historians had been too ready to read back 11th- and
    > 12th-century legal texts (which do use feudal) terminology onto a much
    > more variated 9th- and 10th century society and had ended up creating a
    > "feudal world" which simply did note exist, or which, at most, described
    > small parts of France for short periods.

    Why do you respond to a comment on the Romans with evidence about variations
    in feudal practice in the 9th through 12th centuries?

    > Most reviewers have found Reynold`s arguments compelling. [See, for
    > instance, the very informative comments of Steven Lane: Review of Susan
    > Reynolds, Fief and Vassals, [At TMR]. As a result teachers can no longer
    > teach "feudalism" without severe qualifications.

    Feudalism is local and personal. So, it varies from locality to locality
    and personal relationship to personal relationship. This is not news.
    Reynolds has stated the obvious and declared it revolutionary. That`s how
    you get tenure.

    > > 2) The late Roman economy remained slave driven.
    > But back to the main point. Carl responds as to the facts well enough.
    > (I was going to put in some historical stuff about the laws passed etc
    > but it`s boring crap)
    > The Romans had several problems. One was tax evasion - yes tax evasion -
    > people were trying to avoid paying taxes - can you believe that ?
    > Another was the cost of running all those armies - what`s an Emperor to
    > do ? And another was the growing lack of slaves (these slaves were quite
    > different from later American slavery model).

    Carl`s post deals with medieval society, not ancient society. What am I
    supposed to be looking for?

    > > 3) Feudalism is a formalization of Germanic law
    > > 4) Charlemagne established the system which was feudalism in its
    earliest
    > > forms.
    > Whereas you are referring to another definition:
    >
    > Before we begin, we should note that the men and women of the middle
    > ages never talked about feudalism.

    This is the way language works. First you talk about fiefs, later people
    talk about the feudal system. First you talk about manors, later people
    talk about the manorial system. Merchants preceeded merchantilism, capital
    preceeded capitalism.

    > It has been argued that historians have interpreted medieval documents
    > and histories in terms of this view, and that, when we examine the
    > documents more closely, there is actually very little evidence that
    > society was really organized in such a fashion.

    If one really is of a mind to get a handle on medieval mentalities one must
    read Marc Bloch`s _Feudal Society_.

    > Feudalism: a social system based on a society in which peasant
    > agriculture is the fundamental productive activity; in which slavery is
    > non-existent or marginal but peasants are tied to the land in some way;
    > and in which a small elite defined by military activity dominates.
    > (Marxist model)

    Since the Marxists postulate a fundamental and direct relationship between
    the means of production and the organization of political power, its hardly
    a surprise to discover that they can`t tell political institutions from
    economic ones.

    > This generally defined as "Manoralism" these days.

    Because someone somewhere can tell the difference.

    > > Explain what you mean by free.
    > Free to leave the ground that they work firstly. Free to gain income by
    > laboring where they choose. Free to sell the land that they work. Not
    > owned or bound to servitude for life.

    Like, say, yeoman?

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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    On Mon, 2002-05-27 at 16:43, Kenneth Gauck wrote:
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "Peter Lubke" <peterlubke@OPTUSNET.COM.AU>
    > Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2002 8:34 PM

    > Why do you respond to a comment on the Romans with evidence about variations
    > in feudal practice in the 9th through 12th centuries?
    Because you missed Garys commment on what he saw feudalism as being.

    >
    > > Most reviewers have found Reynold`s arguments compelling. [See, for
    > > instance, the very informative comments of Steven Lane: Review of Susan
    > > Reynolds, Fief and Vassals, [At TMR]. As a result teachers can no longer
    > > teach "feudalism" without severe qualifications.
    >
    > Feudalism is local and personal. So, it varies from locality to locality
    > and personal relationship to personal relationship. This is not news.
    > Reynolds has stated the obvious and declared it revolutionary. That`s how
    > you get tenure.
    yes yes public functions in private hands - that was not Garys argument,
    again you`re arguing the wrong definition (I don`t

    >
    > > > 2) The late Roman economy remained slave driven.

    >
    > Carl`s post deals with medieval society, not ancient society. What am I
    > supposed to be looking for?
    The bits about how (from around 150 BC on) the Romans started changing
    how they ran their armies. By exchanging land for military service. (the
    underpinning argument of Garys definition of feudalism)

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    Peter Lubke <peterlubke@OPTUSNET.COM.AU> wrote at 02-05-27 09.54:

    >> Carl`s post deals with medieval society, not ancient society. What am I
    >> supposed to be looking for?
    >>

    > The bits about how (from around 150 BC on) the Romans started changing
    > how they ran their armies. By exchanging land for military service. (the
    > underpinning argument of Garys definition of feudalism)

    I actuallynever mentioned this, but it is right. The romans created vassals,
    who would defend them in exchange for land. But I don`t know enough about
    this to make one of my overlong posts on the subject.

    /Carl

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  6. #6
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    > On Mon, 2002-05-27 at 16:43, Kenneth Gauck wrote:
    > > Why do you respond to a comment on the Romans with evidence
    > > about variations in feudal practice in the 9th through 12th centuries?
    >
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Peter Lubke" <peterlubke@OPTUSNET.COM.AU>
    Sent: Monday, May 27, 2002 2:54 AM
    >
    > Because you missed Garys commment on what he saw feudalism as being.

    I see. I was under the mistaken impression that when you replied to my
    posts you were writing about things I had said. Silly me.

    > yes yes public functions in private hands - that was not Garys argument,
    > again you`re arguing the wrong definition (I don`t

    Again, nothing to do with what I had written. This formula - public
    functions in private hands - may be an accurate statement, but it has not a
    thing to do with localism and the personal nature of agreements.

    > > Carl`s post deals with medieval society, not ancient society. What am I
    > > supposed to be looking for?
    >
    > The bits about how (from around 150 BC on) the Romans started changing
    > how they ran their armies. By exchanging land for military service. (the
    > underpinning argument of Garys definition of feudalism)

    I see Carl disavows having written on this subject. And for some reason you
    want me to argue from Gary`s set of assumptions. My sense of things is that
    you have read so much (probably in a short span of time) that you can`t
    remember where you saw what.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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    > Again, nothing to do with what I had written. This formula - public
    > functions in private hands - may be an accurate statement, but it has not a
    > thing to do with localism and the personal nature of agreements.
    In the late Imperial era of the Roman empire, most of the armies were
    loyal not to Rome, but to their general. This was largely because they
    were promised land - not by Rome, but by the generals personally. The
    public function (defense of the empire) was now in private hands
    (generals). These were personal agreements which found great favor with
    the impoverished Roman citizens.

    >
    > > > Carl`s post deals with medieval society, not ancient society. What am I
    > > > supposed to be looking for?
    > >
    > > The bits about how (from around 150 BC on) the Romans started changing
    > > how they ran their armies. By exchanging land for military service. (the
    > > underpinning argument of Garys definition of feudalism)
    >
    > I see Carl disavows having written on this subject. And for some reason you
    > want me to argue from Gary`s set of assumptions. My sense of things is that
    > you have read so much (probably in a short span of time) that you can`t
    > remember where you saw what.

    I got this from a Carl post:
    ===========================================

    As for the Romans, they were indeed semi-feudal at the end. "Foderati",
    the
    root of the word "Feudal" is a Latin word, with a meaning similar to
    "vassal". But the roman peasant was not a serf, or even a peon, he was
    an
    outright slave. The small, independent citizen-farmer formed the bulk of
    the
    roman population (and army) in the days of the republic, but was brought
    low
    by the needs of military service and imported grain. By the third
    century
    AD, roman farming was done on Villas; huge farming complexes where
    slaves
    worked without vested interest in their own produce. See the movie "The
    House of the Spirits" [http://us.imdb.com/Title?0107151] for an example
    of
    how these traditions were continued into the modern era. The farmers in
    such
    a society are completely dependent on their lord and have little
    incentive
    to work well.
    ================================================== ==

    In the late Republic Era of the Roman empire, the free Roman farmers
    (who were the backbone of the republic) fled to the cities during the
    second Punic wars. Their lands were bought cheaply by the rich, and
    farmed with cheap slave labor from conquests. Now the majority of people
    in Italy are slaves. Bringing about the situation above.

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    Carl sez:
    > I actuallynever mentioned this, but it is right. The romans
    > created vassals, who would defend them in exchange for land.
    > But I don`t know enough about this to make one of my overlong
    > posts on the subject.

    That`s a pity, I have rather been enjoying them myself.

    --
    John Machin
    (trithemius@paradise.net.nz)
    -----------------------------------
    "Nothing is more beautiful than to know the All."
    Athanasius Kircher, Ars Magna Sciendi.

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    "Power performs the Miracle." - Johannes Trithemius

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    << There is no doubt. Feudalism was destroyed by the Hundred Years War, the
    War of the Roses, the Golden Bull, and the Black Death (just to name a few).
    The last gasp of feudalism exists at the end of the 15th century in such
    institutions as the Order of the Golden Fleece.
    >>

    There was also still feudalism in Japan as late as when the Europeans
    arrived with gunpowder there.


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