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Decline of Feudalism

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    Feudalism was a social ranking of people during the Medieval Times. It was a system of rule in which powerful local lords gave pieces of their large plots of land to lesser lords. Lesser lords, or vassals, promised loyalty, provided the lord with 40 days of military service each year, certain money payments, and advice. In return, the lord gave his vassal a fief to work and live on and he promised to protect his vassal. Vassals had lesser lords working for him and knights were part of this system by living/protecting these estates.

    Towards the High Middle Ages, this system came to an end. The main reason was because of The Black Death. However, that was not the only reason. It was also due to the Crusades and the signing of the Magna Carta. The Black Death was a disease transmitted by fleas and rodents that came from Asia by trade and travel. There were black and blue spots on the body and it was really contagious. If someone in the house had it, you knew that you would catch it and die by the end of the week. One-third of the population in Europe suffered from this plague.

    This gave the healthy serfs and common people a higher opportunity and power. Feudal lords were looking for people to work their land and because the population of serfs kept decreasing, they demanded human rights and money for working. After earning a decent amount, they would migrate to cities and towns. When the serfs started leaving the manors, the feudal system started crumbling apart. The Black Death was not the only reason for it to decline though. The Crusades were another factor that led to the end of the feudal system.

    According to “The Crusades” packet, it were military expeditions from 1096-1270 to capture Jerusalem, the Holy Land where Jesus was born. This was between the European Christians and the Muslim Turks. After the Seven Crusades, the Holy Land was still under the Muslim control but Europeans learned how to build better ships and maps. Trade and travel also increased. The Crusades brought an end to feudalism. The lords went bankrupt by spending most of their money on military equipment.

    Without the money, the vassals were not paid enough, leading to the end of the system. Many lords also died in the fighting and after their death, there barely was any power left over the manor and it broke the feudal system. Another reason that assisted feudalism to end was the Magna Carta. It was a document signed by King John that allowed nobles to have certain rights and it also made it clear that the monarch must obey the law. It was signed by King John in 1215 by force from the local people.

    This brought an end to feudalism because the serfs were owned by lords. One of the prime factors of the Magna Carta was its declaration that under god, all men were equal. Also, it limited the lords’ powers and gave voice to common people. It gradually shifted power from kings to other people. Therefore, the Magna Carta was another counter example that helped end the feudal system. The Black Death was a major reason that brought an end to feudalism. One-third of Europe’s population died, giving the healthy serfs opportunity and more money.

    They later moved to cities and towns and left the feudal manors. Two other factors that helped decline feudalism were the Crusades and the Magna Carta. In the Crusades, the lords lost a lot of their money on military supplies and many of them died. Without money, they were not able to pay their vassals and some lords lost power because they died. The Magna Carta gave voice to common people and they gained more power by limiting the lords’ powers. These were several reasons on why the idea of feudalism has been long gone.

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