Feudal hierarchy system, sometimes also referred as Feudalism, can be defined as a combination of social, political and economic system which broadly defined a structural relationship between different people of a society or kingdom on the basis of lending of land in an exchange of labor or personal services.
This system luxuriated in the medieval Europe during a period between 9th to 15th centuries. This system’s terms were thriven by military and legal customs. All the jobs, activities and the occupations to be performed by the people in the society were fixed in the feudal system and nobody was allowed to opt for a profession that was not meant for hid class of people.
In the Feudal hierarchy system, the land owners would rent their lands to the people who belong to lower class and known as fiefs and in return would expect loyalty, personal services along with rent. This was a general practice that was practiced by every group or class in the society including the king. This hierarchy basically revolves around these two concepts namely lords and peasants or vassals. These are described briefly as below:
- Lords/ Upper Class: A lord was a person who possessed land and has power/ control over others. A lord can be termed as a master, ruler or a chief. A lord distributed the grants of lands to the people at lower class known as vassals to get, in return some special services along with the rent of the land granted. The land which was rented to the lower class was termed as a fief. Lords were considered the upper class and got special privileges as compared to the lower class.
- Vassals/ Lower Class: The fief land was allocated to lower class that was termed as vassals. The lords granted their lands to these vassals and in return ask for rent and some services. Before granting the fief to the lower class (vassals) a ceremony called commendation ceremony used to be held accompanied by the oath of fealty and a royal homage. The process includes having a contract which states to provide services to the lord, even fighting at the command of the lords and in return lord promised not only to provide land but also to protect the vassal form various external forces. A fealty oath was taken to reinforce all the promises made during the royal homage. The protection of the land was among the duties assigned to the vassals.
There were also some vital problems in the feudal hierarchy system that poor were becoming poorer and rich were becoming richer with the passage of time. The lower class was treated very badly and rudely by the lords. The biggest problem was that since some special duties were assigned to the different classes, people of the specified class were not allowed to take up the desirable jobs.
By the beginning of the 19th century, as a result of many revolutions, the feudal system also saw its end.