The Three Orders
Term Feudalism is derived from German word ‘feud’ (‘piece of land’). Feudalism was a division of society developed initially in medieval France, then in England and southern Italy; it was a kind of agricultural production relationship between lords and peasants. The Catholic Church was a powerful institution. The Pope, the head of the Catholic Church, lived in Rome. Bishops were religious nobility. They collected the tithe, a tax from the peasants. Church ceremonies copied several formal feudal customs. Some Christians chose to live in isolation in abbeys. Both men and women lived in these monasteries. Christmas, was celebrated as Christ’s birthday. Easter, the Crucifixion of Christ and his rising from dead, was also celebrated. The nobility had a privileged role in the social process with absolute control over his land. They raised troops that were called ‘Feudal Levies’. The King of France was linked to his people through the system of ‘vassalage’. The King was accepted as Seigneur, i.e. lord. The nobility lived in manor houses. The cavalry and peasant soldiers were called knights. Minstrels and bards toured France, singing tales of brave kings and knights. Peasants and Serfs were two kinds of cultivators in medieval Europe. Free peasants laboured for cultivating the lord’s fields to provide labour rent. They paid a direct tax, called taille, to the king.
European monarchs were called New Monarchs. The Anglo-Saxons had a Great Council, which the king consulted before imposing any tax. This developed into the Parliament, with the House of Lords (its members - the lords and the clergy), and the House of Commons. The English monarch, Charles the First, ruled England from 1629 till 1640 without calling the parliament.