The End of Feudalism: the Black Plague

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The End of European Feudalism; The Black Plague
Life for a peasant in medieval Europe was extremely difficult. The peasant class did not own land and worked long, hard hours for the nobility. After centuries under the Feudal system, the Black Death spread through Europe and changed the status of both the land owner and peasant forever. As the population recovered from the decimation, the peasant class grew more powerful and enjoyed an improved quality of life. Feudalism is a social system based upon a very small part of the population having almost all of the wealth in an economy. The ideals of Feudalism started in the eighth century when Charles Martel, a Frankish ruler, gave out tracts of land to his lords in exchange for an oath of loyalty and use of their soldiers in a time of war. This ideal was spread over the next century by other members of the Carolingian dynasty, specifically Martel’s grandson, Charlemagne. The idea slowly spread across Europe as the French conquered much of central Europe. (History of Feudalism) There is a king at the head, with a few great lords beneath him. The great lords have a series of lesser nobles below them, and the peasants are below everyone. The peasants were, in essence, slaves. George N Njenga says, “This allegiance (The allegiance to the vassal lord) was basically a form of slavery since the vassal knew he could not liberate himself from his lord.” The peasants could not legally leave the land they were attached to. They could use some of the produce from the land, but they could never leave it. The peasants on average did not travel more than twenty-five miles from their birthplace. This caused peasants to largely not care about anything higher than having food in their stomachs. Approximately one percent of the population controlled almost all of the wealth of a nation. This social system only functions when there are a large number of peasants to support the upper class, who largely do not work....
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