The feudal system was a popular governing system prior to the 14th century. It was used extensively in medieval Europe
, and later in Japan
. The feudal system worked like this:
of a castle
did not actually own the land he built on. He was granted the right to use the land and build a castle by swearing an oath to a baron
, a more important lord. In the case of a baron, loyalty was sworn directly to the king
. The lord earned his privileges by giving his service as a knight for a period of 40 days each year, during which time the baron could use him to fight wars. The lord controlled the people who lived on the land given to him by the king, and collected taxes from them.
The social structure under feudalism
was organized as follows:
: The top rung of the social ladder, the king ruled over absolutely everyone.
: The barons were the most wealthy nobleman
who received such large parcels of land from the king that they divided their land among many knights in order to control it.
3. Knight: Knights were also wealthy nobleman but had to give knight service each year. They controlled the people of their domains but no one else.
: High status peasants
free to move from place to place.
: Low status peasants who were not permitted to leave the lord's land. Most people were villeins.
The feudal system was replaced by bastard feudalism
in the 14th century.