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Definition: feudalism and feudal system from

Chambers 21st Century Dictionary

noun: a system of social and political organization prevalent in W Europe in the Middle Ages, in which powerful land-owning lords granted degrees of privilege and protection to lesser subjects holding a range of positions within a rigid social hierarchy. See also fief, liege, vassal.


feudalist noun.

feudalistic adjective.

[19c: feudal + -ism.]

Summary Article: feudalism from The Columbia Encyclopedia
feudalism (fy´dәlĭzәm), form of political and social organization typical of Western Europe from the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire to the rise of the absolute monarchies. The term feudalism is derived from the Latin feodum, for "fief," and ultimately from a Germanic word meaning "cow," generalized to denote valuable movable property. Although analogous social systems have appeared in other civilizations, the feudalism of Europe in the Middle Ages remains the common model of feudal society. Characteristics of European Feudalism The evolution of highly diverse forms, customs, and institutions makes it almost impossible to accurately depict feudalism as a whole, but certain components of the system may be regarded as characteristic: strict division into social classes, i.e., nobility, clergy, peasantry, and, in the later Middle Ages, burgesses; private jurisdictio...    Continue Reading

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