How do you explain the decline of feudalism in medieval Europe?
Between the fifth and ninth centuries, features of feudalism began to emerge in Europe. Feudalism was fully developed between the tenth and twelfth centuries. From the fourteenth century the signs of its decline became evident. Feudalism declined in each region for one reason or another, but several common causes of feudalism's decline can be easily identified.
|Reasons for the decline of feudalism||Description||Effects|
|Increase in trade and commerce||The growth of towns and cities led to the rise of a merchant class, which challenged the power of the feudal lords.||The power of feudal lords declined as they lost control over trade and commerce.|
|Development of stronger central governments||The growth of powerful monarchies led to the decline of feudal lords who could not compete with the power of the centralized state.||The power of feudal lords declined as they were replaced by a centralized state.|
|The Black Death||The bubonic plague led to a shortage of labor, which increased the bargaining power of peasants and laborers.||The power of feudal lords declined as they had to offer better working conditions and higher wages to attract laborers.|
Causes for decline of feudalism in Europe
The feudal social system was an obstacle to the development of national monarchy as it encouraged separatism. Naturally powerful kings tried to get rid of the influence of feudalism. The working people were also oppressed and oppressed in this system. Villains and serfs were deprived of privileges in exchange for labour. So these people from the lower strata of the society were also seeking freedom from the feudal lords. This struggle continued until the French Revolution. Peasant revolts in various parts of Europe had already begun to undermine feudalism.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, many feudal lords died participating in the Crusades. And the manpower and money of the Crusader returned sovereigns decreased. Lands mortgaged by a group of feudal lords to participate in the Crusades were purchased by kings and the wealthy class. Naturally many feudal lords lost their land holdings. Thus the Crusades undermined the foundations of feudalism.
The discovery of ammunition in the 14th century reduced the need for feudal armies. In the fifteenth century the fortresses, the heart of the feudal lord's power, became helpless before firearms. This military weakness was one of the reasons for the decline of feudalism.
After the 11th century, the feudal structure of western Europe was re-expanded by trade and commtime began to collapse. The basis of feudalism was essentially compulsion. But when the barter system was introduced, the feudal system declined. But if feudalism were to collapse as a result of trade, it would be in south-east England that feudalism would fall first. Others say that as trade and money transactions increased, the feudal lords were interested in developing a more salable surplus production system. So the penetration of money and expansion of trade cannot be solely blamed for the breakdown of feudalism.
A major reason for the downfall of feudalism was the internal weakness of its financial structure. On the one hand the need for money of the upper class increased, while on the other hand the feudal production structure failed to deliver the required revenue to the lords. This underlying conflict led to the breakdown of the feudal economy. Two options were open to the feudal lords :-
To increase the productivity of the serfs or to increase their exploitation. The first was impossible. Because according to Maurice Dube, the basis of feudalism was the stability of labor. The feudal lords chose the second path. As a result the serfs either fled the land or revolted. On top of that, the increase in the number of feudal lords, the cost of maintaining the army for the war effort increases. As a result, the feudal lords were forced to free the serfs and purchase labor in return for cash wages. Feudalism naturally broke down.
Urban surplus in Europe was a factor in the decline of feudalism. The luxury of life and the lure of employment in the cities attracted the oppressed commoners and serfs to the manors. This exodus dealt a powerful blow against feudalism at the end.
According to Marx, feudalism fell due to internal conflicts. Apart from these internal conflicts
- 1) increasing awareness among the common people
- 2) expanding the sense of dignity of the individual
- 3) advent of liberalism created aversion among the common people towards feudalism.
Many progressive feudal lords were also influenced by this ideology. As a result of social evolution, the small feudal kingdoms of the past were unable to maintain their existence and dissolved into large national states. Inevitably the fall of feudalism is imminent.
The emergence of unenlightened middle-class communities cracked the absolutist establishment of feudal lords in governance. The presence of the middle class can be seen in the meetings of Emperor Frederick II, the sessions of the estates convened by Philip IV of France at Cótis in Spain, or the parliaments of Edward I (in England).
The rise of a powerful monarchy put the final nail in the coffin of feudalism. According to Gettel, the restructuring of the nation-state led to many internal changes, and one of these was the breakdown of the entire system. According to him, the Hundred Years' War, the Wars of the Roses, the invention of gunpowder, the National Taxation, and the prohibition of allotment of agricultural land in England, made the king the owner of all land in the kingdom. Acquisition, on the one hand, strengthened the ruling class of the nation-state, and on the other, destroyed feudalism. 1245 It was not too late to introduce this policy in other parts of the continent where strong monarchies were established. Meanwhile, in the transformation of the economy and production system in Western Europe, even the faintest remnants of feudalism were no longer preserved.
The shock of system transformation exposed the inherent weakness of the feudal system and created a rupture in the feudal structure. As a result, even if feudalism did not completely disappear after the fifteenth century, it was a radical change in the mode of production in Western Europe from the barren twelfth century, which led to its economic demise. The innumerable regulations which were created to protect the feudal system, have disappeared in the womb of time.