The European Middle Ages - Change over Time

Topics: Feudalism, Serfdom, Black Death Pages: 4 (1317 words) Published: March 20, 2013
The economy of the Middle Ages

The economy has long been a major force in the development of societies for centuries. It often changes and fluctuates, consequentially resulting in the success or failure of civilizations. The economy of medieval Europe originated as that of a feudal systemdue to the dangerous and chaotic conditions of the continent at the time. By the end of the Middle Ages, the feudal system no longer being used due to its newfound inefficiency with the new situations emerging. Towns and trade began to get more popular, but society was still agriculturally based and comparatively less developed than the societies of Asia. The early Middle Ages are characterized by the Church and the feudal and manorial systems; systems in which every European’s life were centered around. In this arrangement there were kings, lords, vassals, knights, peasants and serfs. The hierarchy was that of a property owning basis. It was a land exchange for protection. During early medieval times, Europe was in a state of chaos. Muslim, Magyar, and Viking invaders devastated the continent and surrounded it from all sides. With no true government in place, people were susceptible to invasions, and then came the feudal system. When kings gave men plots of land, those men would have to provide protection for the king and the land given through knights. The system was actually extremely complex because a lord was a vassal and he could also be a knight. In addition to that, a vassal could be a vassal to multiple people and they often fought over land. After the knights were peasants, people who worked the land of their lord. Some peasants were serfs, who were legally bound to the land they were born on, but they were not slaves. The wealth of every lord came from the work of his peasants.

The manorial system branched out of the feudal system and was the more economic side of feudalism. The manor was the estate of the lord and there was an agreement between...
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