- From: Paul J Gans <gans@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 18:13:10 +0000 (UTC)
"Uwe M?ller" <uwemueller@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
"Renia" <renia@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
"Paul J Gans" <gans@xxxxxxxxx> skrev i melding
But here we don't care much about those terms. In a
newsgroup devoted to the Middle Ages, we do care about
What is the history of the term "feudal"? Does the term trace back to
Duden,middle ages? Was it used in the middle ages? According to my trusty
isit is actually m. latin (feudalis) from feudum = estate, and has slipped
into legalese as a way of assigning certain issues to problems around
holding og granting a fief (which is from the same root as "feud", which
usedfrom the same root as "Vieh" (cattle), which the germanix seem to have
guess.as synonymous with "wealth"). In german it would be "Lehenswesen", I
whenProbably there should be a translation for this in English.
Norway abandoned "nobility" in the 19. century, and this happened in
strictly economic terms; these laws were in use just a few years ago,
forit was discovered that a certain rich man had established a huge fund
thishis heirs, with the proviso that they may never deduct from the main
capital, only from profits and interest. This, according to our tax
authorities most just and fair (in case they're watching), meant that
itfund was not totally under the control of the heirs implied by full
ownership - they could not dispose of it as they wished. And this
"independence", by the "inviolability" (?) of a volume of property (be
financialfunds, shares, land ....) was said to be a characteristic of the
theircircumstances around our old Adel (nobility), who could not e.g. sell
theland - the current owner was just a "temporary manager", a steward for
whole clan, holding its lands in trust for future generations.
Personally, I think that is the crux of the matter. The holder of the
land held it not for himself, but for his "heirs and successors". Even
today, some English aristocrats do not seem themselves as "landowners"
but as lifetime tenants or guardians preserving the estate for future
generations of the family.
Strictly speaking, English landowners today "hold" their land of The
Queen. Now, she is hardly going to grab it all back but that's the legal
There is correlation between landownership (holding land of the king)
and genealogy and heraldry. The coats of arms and long genealogies were
not necessarily for snob value, but to delineate "the heirs and
successors" in case a line died out. And, just as the male heirs of an
armiger may use those arms, so those same male heirs were in line as
"heirs and successors", should a line die out or should a daughter's
husband not agree to take the name and arms of the landed family.
So .... could "feudal" actually have a use in (the history of)
jurisprudence, and thereby have a use in (the history of) economics, and
thusly gain entrance into history ...?
Of course it could and it does and did. That was the point.
Only if you can show, that this wasn't the normal way land was posessed
before the medievals introduced personal ownership. LeGeoff made quite a
case for that, and, AFAIK, it is widely accepted as the basis for the
economical rise in the 13th. c. (security for loans and producing interest
but not forbidden by church laws).Over here there is not even a restriction
on landownership to the nobility. Normal but wealthy townsfolk are listed
prominently among the landowners. I'm not even sure if it was not the
possesion of great tracts of land that led to nobilization instead of being
counted among the nobility leading to the posession of land.
So if the family bond regarding the ownership of land is not restricted to
the medieval, and gets abolished in the medieval, it is not practical to use
it as a distinct or defining feature of the medieval period. That does not
mean the term can't be used for some regions, newly conquered territories as
Even in England land ownership by the non-noble did occur. Further,
land was granted for many different reasons with many different
restrictions. Some were lifetime grants. Some were grants of the
proceeds of the land without any actual ownership of the land.
And so on.
And this went on during the same period Renia is talking about.
Last, of course the notion that the king (or queen) personally
owned all the land was a (silly) claim by William the Conqueror.
He claimed it by right of conquest, a right that really did not
exist in any law at the time. But he had the army and so nobody
got to argue.
What that right did was allow him to confiscate lands under the
seeming cover of law and then award those lands to whomever he
Originally English "feudalism" was supposed to mean that such
grants came with certain obligations such as the supplying of
men for war and, I might add, the upkeep of the bridges on that
land. The former was not at all uniform and the latter was
frequently ignored. Neither had a bad result for the landholder.
--- Paul J. Gans
- Prev by Date: Re: Feudalism
- Next by Date: Re: Centuries old Brit Military Questions
- Previous by thread: Re: Feudalism
- Next by thread: Re: Feudalism