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Feudal Society, Vol 1 : Vol 1: The Growth And T...

The money capital formed by means of usury and commerce was preventedfrom turning into industrial capital, in the country by the feudal constitution,in the towns by the guild organisation. [3] These fettersvanished with the dissolution of feudal society, with the expropriationand partial eviction of the country population. The new manufactures wereestablished at sea-ports, or at inland points beyond the control of the oldmunicipalities and their guilds. Hence in England an embittered struggleof the corporate towns against these new industrial nurseries.

Feudal Society, Vol 1 : Vol 1: The Growth and T...

The different momenta of primitive accumulation distribute themselvesnow, more or less in chronological order, particularly over Spain, Portugal,Holland, France, and England. In England at the end of the 17th century,they arrive at a systematical combination, embracing the colonies, thenational debt, the modern mode of taxation, and the protectionist system.These methods depend in part on brute force, e.g., the colonialsystem. But, they all employ the power of the State, the concentrated andorganised force of society, to hasten, hot-house fashion, the process oftransformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode,and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife of every old societypregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.

Beyond the local customs of duties and obligations and the public ceremonies of commendation, the blending of secular and religious authority offered another foundation for what would become feudalism. The separation of church and state didn't exist in the Early Middle Ages. Christianity, once a persecuted Jewish sect in the Roman Empire, gained converts and momentum and finally became the dominant faith of the West. Constantine, ruler of Rome from 306 to 337 A.D., did a lot to encourage the growth of Christianity, including convening ecumenical councils for religious leaders to discuss theological issues and dedicating his capital city of Constantinople to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. When Charlemagne was crowned in 800, the Pope placed the crown on the new emperor's head, symbolizing the cooperation and interrelationship between the two leaders. Of course, the fact that the secular and religious worlds seemed to blur together also led to a power struggle between the two groups, as each leader claimed that he had the superior authority. In many instances, however, the lines dividing the two all but disappeared.

Nevertheless, feudalism itself wore a distinctly male face. At its most basic, feudalism was local, personal, and hierarchical. All three of these characteristics sprang from the fact that the feudal system relied on the land as its basic building block. In feudal society, the monarch owned the land, but divided it

The specific features of feudalism were the outcome of the encounter of two types of society, the Romanized and the Germanic. Their fusion into a new society, the Romano-Germanic, was accompanied by a merging and reshaping of their respective institutions. Neither the German nor the Roman traditions were homogeneous, and throughout central and western Europe they differed according to the strength of the local (often pre-Roman, Celtic) institutions and the effectiveness of Romanization, on the one hand, and the distance of the new Germanic societies from their earlier, preinvasion habitats, on the other.

With the growth of academic, professional history in the later nineteenth century, scholars adopted a narrower and less pejorative view of feudalism, one characterized in 1875 by the French scholar Numa Fustel de Coulanges as a conditional possession of land which has been substituted for property in land, the existence of lordships that divided up the land and were ruled by men who had ceased to obey the king, and the dependence of these lordships on each other. The critical elements of the system were the benefice, the request for it and the precarious character of its tenure, patronage, the immunity, and fidelity between man and lord. Both academic historians and legal historians regarded feudalism as a slowly changing set of relations between superiors and inferiors in matters of landholding. Empirical academic historians rejected general theory and ideology, edited and published enormous numbers of texts, chiefly chronicles and private charters conveying land, and they withdrew from the older, broader characterizations of feudalism as a blanket term for the entire middle ages, narrowing to the general period from 800 to 1300 and focusing primarily on western Europe, particularly France. They also greatly expanded the study of the history of the nobility, rulership, and state building. But they remained divided as to whether the phenomena they studied were purely legal and political, on the one hand, or social and economic, on the other.

During the second half of the twentieth century, most historians concentrated more on Bloch's second feudal age as the only age of feudal society, generally discounting Bloch's earlier period as an archaic society with some of whose surviving institutions the lords of the eleventh and twelfth century worked differently. Other historians criticized Bloch's assumptions about the extent of the tenth-century crisis and argued for a much greater degree of continuity between Late Antiquity and the twelfth century, thereby posing the problem as one debated between scholars who argue for a gradual evolution of practices and institutions and those who see a "feudal revolution" or "feudal mutation" occurring around the turn of the second millennium.

Opposition to the feudal system grew steadily from the middle of the eighteenth century. Peasants had always hated both the system and the tithe, the obligatory feudal tax for the support of the church. While most nobles everywhere understandably defended feudalism, members of the non-noble elite were of two minds. On the one hand, anyone who aspired to assimilation into the nobility routinely purchased feudal rights and estates since they were the socially indispensable prestige properties of the aristocracy. On the other hand, the non-noble elites were increasingly aware that the feudal system and the legal nobility were hopelessly antiquated institutions. Opposition to feudalism among the non-noble elites was based on the overall transformation of society, not on the economic burden of feudalism per se. Consequently, opposition was much more vocal in France and Italy than in Prussia, Austria, or Bohemia.

By the late 1970s a number of dissenters to the theory of Indian feudalism had emerged from within the ranks of Marxist historians in India, and they were joined by scholars of various disciplines from outside the Marxist tradition working on such topics as monetary history, urbanization, and "state formation" in early India. The challenges to the feudalist thesis were twofold. The first was evidentiary. There were long-standing critiques by epigraphists that the evidence of the land charters could not support the existence of vassalage, but only of religious "landlordism" at best. The theory of a demonetized economy was challenged as resting on weak methodology, and it was suggested that North India, during the period between a.d. 600 and 1000, had just as many coins in circulation as in earlier times. Similarly, the thesis of widespread urban decay had to be counterbalanced by the fact that while archaeology seemed to demonstrate that the great cities of early historic India did witness a marked contraction in size, the period also saw considerable urban growth, as new regional capitals and smaller urban settlements emerged throughout many regions in the subcontinent. The other challenges to the feudalist position were theoretical. It was pointed out that the evolution of feudal structures was attributed entirely to state action instead of class relations, as in Europe. The notion of a subject peasantry was also challenged. These arguments combined with a number of other critiques, which suggested that the entire theory of Indian feudalism had borrowed too heavily from European precedents, and had a tendency to force the Indian evidence into ready-made European historical case studies rather than using Marxist theoretical tools to deal with the Indian evidence. Such criticisms for the most part were not intended to dismiss entirely the relevance of the feudalism concept or Marxist approaches as such, but to underscore the inability of such model-based methods to account for the specificity of the Indian situation. Needless to say, these critiques and alternatives elicited a vigorous debate, which featured in the pages of history journals sporadically for nearly two decades. The discussions have led to the question of whether there can be variants of feudalism, and if so, what degree of variation in any particular instantiation might risk rendering the concept so inclusive as to lose any discriminatory meaning. 041b061a72

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