Why Feudalism Developed in Western Europe

The feudalism of the middle ages was a system of political and social organization that developed out of the chaos following the fall of the Roman empire. Feudalism is usually defined as a set of legal and military customs that are widely used in medieval Western Europe from about the 9th century to about the 15th century. In reality, it is more complicated than that. It began long before that time, and it continued long after. It changed over time, too.

People needed new protection.

In order to understand why feudalism developed in Western Europe, we must first examine the major threats that faced people living on the European continent during this time period. In particular, people needed protection from Vikings and Saracens, Magyars and Normans, Huns and then Vikings again. The Mongols were also a threat that led to some of the initial development of feudalism.

Agriculture was changing.

Agriculture was changing.

The Black Death and Hundred Years’ War decimated the population, leaving fewer peasants to work the land. This meant that lords could not demand as much from their rural tenants as before. The Great Famine of 1315–1317 also caused many to flee their homes in search of better living conditions elsewhere, further weakening the feudal system. A few decades later, an unusually cold winter known as the Little Ice Age began; this brought more famine and death to Europe while causing harvests to fail throughout Europe and making it harder for farmers to feed themselves or produce enough food for others.

See also  Why Feudalism Developed in Europe

In addition, merchants grew increasingly powerful during this time period because they were able to sell goods at higher prices than ever before (due largely to inflation). While merchants did not have much power over agriculture itself, they did provide an alternative source of income for those who would otherwise have worked on farms full time—which meant that fewer people stayed close by when there wasn’t enough food available locally!

Society was changing.

In the western part of Europe, society was changing. The feudal system replaced the manorial system. The feudal system was based on loyalty to one’s lord and protection from invasion. Lords were required to provide protection from invaders and pay taxes in return for their service.

The development of cities changed how people lived and worked. In cities, merchants made money by trading goods that were shipped in from other places or produced locally in factories (which were also new). Society became more mobile because it didn’t have to live completely dependent on its land anymore; now people could specialize in different types of work according to their skills instead of just what they could do with their hands or farm tools alone!

Feudalism gave people some protection.

Feudalism was a system of exchange in which the king and his nobles traded protection and land rights for military service. In this way, feudalism provided some protection to peasants, who were otherwise at risk of being attacked by other lords or even the king.

See also  Why Feudalism Ended

In addition to providing protection from outside enemies, lords also protected serfs from each other—both physical conflicts between serfs and between serf communities were common. Every member of a lord’s household was considered part of his estate: both male and female servants alike owed loyalty to their master as well as obedience and labor when called upon by him. The headman would be responsible for overseeing work schedules; he would also be responsible for punishing those who broke rules within his community (for example, if one person stole another’s food).

Laws helped feudalism develop.

Feudalism will not develop without laws. The law was needed to keep people in line, to keep people safe and to keep people from fighting.

The government did not have a strong army so they could not enforce their laws. If the government had a strong army then they could have forced the peasants and lords to obey the laws of their king or lord. This would have prevented the rise of feudalism because all the peasants would have been afraid of breaking any rules and would have followed them out of fear if nothing else.

Feudalism developed to solve problems in Western Europe but contributed to other problems later on.

Feudalism developed to solve problems in Western Europe but contributed to other problems later on. According to the Encyclopedia of World History, feudalism was a way of life and system of government, as well as a system of land ownership. The use of the term feudalism is somewhat controversial because it has been used to describe many different types of social organization that have existed throughout history. Many historians argue that the term should only be used for societies based on personal obligations between lords and vassals, or between lords and peasants working their estates.

See also  How Feudalism Ended in Europe

Feudalism developed during a period when society was changing from an agricultural economy into a money-based one where people could buy goods instead of making them themselves. Landowners who had formerly depended on their tenants for labor began hiring workers who were paid wages by the day or week rather than working for room and board only (as before).


Feudalism contributed to the development of democracy in Europe. The nobles and lords forced the kings to share power with them, creating a system of government where no one person could rule alone. This idea eventually led to systems like the U.S. Constitution, which established three branches of government that each have some control over the others (and therefore nobody has absolute power).

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