Feudal Hierarchy France

The feudal hierarchy France started in 9th century and continued till the French revolution initiated in the 17th century. Like all the other feudal systems all over the Europe, the French feudal system also included the distribution of land in return of rent or services. The feudalism in France started while the Capetians was in the ruling power and continued until King Louis XV worked on it during the French revolution by eliminating the Rami Nance. The feudal system in the France altered and used the institutions that were in existence at that time.

The system of fiefs and land distribution was influenced from the Roman and German institutions named Patricinium and Mundium respectively. Both these systems supported the idea of giving away the land to the people who can render their services to the land owner, especially the military services.

This service and protection contract between two categories of people in France involved the beneficium granting, that is, the use of land, which later became hereditary. At a later stage the local royal officers and the land owners increased their power by granting their land to a certain group of people in return of services. They also forced the king to grant them certain privileges like royal interference immunity and private justice. In this way the land owners became the second most powerful people in the kingdom.

The church at that time in France also contributed in shaping the feudalism during the medieval period, although the church itself never became feudal in its character. The church contributed to feudalism because the hierarchy in church was somewhat similar or parallel to feudal hierarchy. Church also owned land that was held by monasteries. The large chunk of this land which was given by nobles as gifts carried certain feudal obligations. This feudal connection between the kingdom and the church even gave rise to a controversy surrounding lay investiture.

France even contributed in spreading feudalism to many more countries like Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe and Germany. Although the basic feudalism features varied at all the places, but the central idea behind the feudalism was similar throughout.

After getting strengthened till 14th century, feudal hierarchy of France started to see decline which was a result of concentrated power. This power concentration in the hands of very few people worked against the centuries old feudalism as a disruptive force. The rise of monarchs in various European countries including France also helped in breaking down this system. Another factor which contributed very strongly was the increase in the communication between people at various places. And finally feudal system got completely destroyed with the launch of French revolution in 1789.

But still we cannot say that European countries are completely free from feudalism, although it is not practiced the way it used to be, but still its influence can be seen on various institutions and traditions in Europe. The feudal system stayed for a couple of centuries in France, so it acquired place in their tradition and culture in many ways.

Know more about the french revolution social hierarchy : Click here