Sam Krupski / January 27th, 2010 / Mr. Masterson's WHCP Class / Per. #7 / Chapter 13.2 - Feudalism In Europe

Key Vocabulary/People:

  • Lord - a landowner who granted fiefs to people.
  • Vassal - the person who received the fief.
  • Fief - land.
  • Knights - the men who served beneath the vassals.
  • Serf(s) - the people who could not lawfully leave the place where they were born.
  • Manor - a lord’s estate.
  • Tithe - a church tax.
  • Leif Ericson - a famous Viking who arrived in North America in 1000, almost 500 years before Columbus.

Key Events:
Invaders attack Western Europe

  • - From 800 to 1000, invasions destroyed Carolingian Empire. Many people from many places came and attacked the Carolingian empire. Especially the fearsome Vikings.
  • - The Vikings invade from the northern areas.
  • - The Vikings came from Scandinavia.
  • - They were Germanic and worshiped war-like gods.
  • - They were powerful, enduring and travelled by a Viking Warship over water. The ship was powered by the men taking turns rowing with oars.
  • - The Vikings were well-rounded people with not only an interest in war but also trading, farming, and exploring, and eventually the adoption of Christianity began.
  • - The Magyars attacked from the East (what is now Hungary) and swept across Italy and other countries where they took captives and sold as slaves.
  • - The Muslims struck from the South. Came from North Africa.
  • - The invasions and attacks from Magyars, Muslims, and the Vikings caused lots of suffering and western Europeans lived in constant danger.
  • - A newer, more modern social reform took place. This was called feudalism.
  • - The king of France granted Charles, the Viking leader, a large part of French territory. It became known as Normandy. In return, Rollo swore a pledge of loyalty to the king.

The Feudal Pyramid
  • - Feudal power was in a pyramid shape with few at the top and more at the bottom – king at the top, vassals next, then the knights, and at the bottom were the peasants who worked in the fields.

Social Classes Are Well Defined

  • - The social class that a person was in was usually determined by the family they were born into and the status determined a person’s power.
  • - In Europe, a majority of the people were peasants and most of the peasants were serfs.
  • - Manors were considered the "economic" side of feudalism. They provided many jobs for rigorous housekeeping.
  • - The manors system was a set of rights and obligations between the lord and his serfs. The serfs would do tasks assigned by the lord. In return they would get the safety of their home and farmland.

A Self-Contained World

  • - Due to the fact that the peasants rarely traveled more than 25 miles from their manor, the peasants could see their entire world from the center of their field. Within that 25 miles there was usually the lord’s manor house, a church, and workshops. 15-30 families lived in the village.
  • - The manor was largely a self-sufficient community. The serfs produced almost everything that was needed. The only outside goods were salt, iron, and a few unusual objects.

The Harshness of Manor Life

  • - Peasants paid high taxes for living on a lord’s land: they paid a tax on grain and a tax on marriage. If they were caught bread anywhere else, it was treated as a crime. The lord had to agree to agree to the marriage and the peasants owed the priest a church tax equal to 1/10 of their income.
  • - Serfs lived in tight quarters with one–two rooms and close neighbors. They had a simple diet and slept tightly packed on a pile of straw, often infested with insects and parasites.
  • - For both men and women serfs, life was constant work. They spent every day taking care of their home and their livestock. Children were put to work as soon as they were old enough. Many children did not survive to adulthood. The average life expectancy was 35 yrs.
  • - Serfs were religious. They accepted their fate as what God had to teach them.
  • - It's clear that life wasn't a perfect cup of tea.



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