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Decline of Feudalism

Medieval life and Times

The Decline of Feudalism

The Medieval Feudal system, feudalism, worked well for many hundreds of years. The decline of feudalism occurred due to a number of events which occurred during the Medieval times and era. Feudalism was based on the division of land by the king to nobles and vassals in return for their military service under the Feudal Levy.

Land was the main source of the economy and was dependent on the peasants who worked on the land.

Medieval Feudalism
Feudalism in England
Medieval Justice and Law
Oath of Fealty

Reasons for the Decline of Feudalism
The reasons for the decline of Feudalism during the Medieval times included:

  • The Crusades and travel during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages opened new trade options to England
  • England started to move from land based economy to a money based economy
  • The Black Death - this reduced the population of England by one third. Labour became a valuable commodity
  • The Peasants Revolt - Peasants realised their worth and demanded changes. Charters were granted but ignored by nobles
  • More trade saw the growth of more towns
  • Peasants moved away from the country into towns they were eventually allowed to buy their freedom
  • Land was rented and the rights of lords over labour decreased
  • The Feudal Levy was unpopular and as time went by Nobles preferred to pay the King rather than to fight and raise troops
  • Armed men were paid a wage and Medieval warfare was financed by taxes and loans
  • Nobles became weaker - the Kings took back their lands and power
  • A centralised government was established

The Decline of Feudalism - the Standing Armies
The decline of feudalism came when rich nobles were allowed to pay for soldiers rather than to fight themselves. Life changed and Mercenaries were hired from all over Europe. The Mercenaries had few allegiances, except to money, and these paid fighting men were feared throughout Europe. The threat of the Mercenaries led on to the employment of professional, trained soldiers - the Standing Armies and ultimately the end of Medieval Feudalism in England. 

Decline of Feudalism - the end of Feudalism in England
Under feudalism the King was answerable to the Pope. At the end of the Middle Ages King Henry VIII clashed with the Pope and England subsequently broke with the Catholic church of Rome and the power of the Pope. This led to the establishment of the Church of England and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was the final 'nail in the coffin' of the Medieval Feudal System, feudalism, in England.

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