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A Short Introduction to Feudalism

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31 pages28 minutes

Summary

There is no great character with whom Feudalism is especially identified. It was an institution of the Middle Ages, which grew out of the miseries and robberies that succeeded the fall of the Roman Empire. Before I present the mutual relation between a lord and his vassal, I would call your attention to political anarchies ending in political degradation; to an unformed state of society; to semi-barbarism, with its characteristic vices of plunder, rapine, oppression, and injustice; to wild and violent passions, unchecked by law; to the absence of central power; to the reign of hard and martial nobles; to the miseries of the people, ground down, ignorant, and brutal; to rude agricultural life; to petty wars; to general ignorance, which kept society in darkness and gloom for a thousand years,--all growing out of the eclipse of the old civilization, so that the European nations began a new existence, and toiled in sorrow and fear, with few ameliorations: an iron age, yet an age which was not unfavorable for the development of new virtues and heroic qualities, under the influence of which society emerged from barbarism, with a new foundation for national greatness, and a new material for Christianity and art and literature and science to work upon...

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