The Decline of Feudalism

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The signing of the Magna Carta, the thousands of dead in a result of the Bubonic Plague, and the advancements in weaponry and battle tactic; each event played a role in the decline of feudalism. They each disrupted the social, economic, and political aspects of medieval Europe. One event that contributed to the decline of feudalism was King John’s signing of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta, also known as the Great Charter, was a document that stated the laws and liberties that the serfs demanded. The King, of course, didn’t want to sign it. Who would want to give up their right to do whatever they wanted? However, he eventually realized that the barons were much stronger than him and could destroy his castles easily, so he signed the Great Charter to keep peace (Wendover). In doing so King John transferred some of his power to the serfs, giving them rights. The serfs depended less on the King because they didn’t need to worry about him taking away their land, their money, or sending them to jail. As a result, the serfs were more loyal to King John. The difference between ranks were lessened and everyone was more loyal to the king. Although this change does seem for the better (and it is) it’s not what feudalism is supposed to be. The signing of the Magna Carta caused this shift in power and loyalty, two very important factors in a feudal society, which caused it to decline. Another event that contributed to feudalism’s decline was the Bubonic Plague. This sickness was easily spread by ticks and infected rats. Thousands of people died from this disease most of which were serfs. The whole of society relied on them so without them, no one could get

anything done. Cows and sheep wandered freely because there weren’t any herders still well to do their part in the feudal community (Knighton). Everyone depended on serfs to provide food and pay for various expenses. Because there were now less serfs, there were less people who could do a specific trade. Therefore...
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