The End of Feudalism

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The End of Feudalism

Many factors led to the gradual disintegration of the feudal system. However, I believe that two of the main aspects that contributed to the dissolution of medieval feudalism were urbanization as well as the increase in power and wealth of the merchant class. In the agricultural industries, the replacement of the two-field system with the three-field system of crop rotation, in which the amount of crops under cultivation could be increased by as much as 50 percent, was the most important technological advance during the Middle Ages. This system also enabled the people to support more horses, which not only speeded up the process of cultivation, but was also an efficient method of transportation for men and equipment. These improvements in agriculture and transportation contributed to a rapid increase in population growth, which was closely related to the increase of urban concentration. Increased urbanization lead to the increase in power and wealth of the merchant class as the changing economic structure no longer called for the restraining protection that the feudal system had once offered. As cities gained independence from both church and feudal lords, the middle class began functioning more similar to that of small-scale entrepreneurs. The desire for a reliable supply of manufactured goods was the result of an increase in trade and commerce, which led to the increased control of land, labour and capital by the merchant class. Custom and tradition practised in the feudal system were, therefore, slowly replaced by the market and the search for money profits.
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