Facts About Feudal Systems
Feud is a word that has certainly changed through History. A feudal system of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s is famous in many old country farmhouses, but in Medieval Europe, Feudal systems were much more heinous and restrictive.
Feudal systems of Medieval Europe included terrible land barons who earned their property by doing favors to the king, usually in battle. The Upper Class members of society were provided with privileges that all men did not have the benefit to enjoy. They were given the rights to practically own people for their own disposal, forcing them to work on land that they could never own, give half of what they worked for to their “Lords” and give half their lives in work to those same “Lords” on their property. Sometimes the children were given to the land owners as payment for the privilege of working for the Lord.
There were express laws that were passed to provide these rights to the Lords of the land. These laws were specific to the upper class and were not passed down to every member of the country. These laws included excessive taxation to the serfs and citizens and the requirement that the serfs would work for the Lords ‘at will’.
If a common man was found hunting they were accused of being villains. Not even squirrels or rabbits could be killed by a serf or a traveler on the land of a Feudal Lord because that is a crime that is punishable up to and including death to the offender. The Feudal Lords had no boundaries except to the King and his domain, because they would not have the land at their disposal if it were not for the King.
If a person who resides on his land dies, the Lord has express permission through the law to confiscate the land and use it for his own needs or desires. If a serf or fief was to move to another domain, under another Lord, the previous Lord has the right to levy a tax against the fief or the new Lord. Usually, if the new Lord is levied the tax, the fief ends up paying the tax through money or work for the new Lord.
Any mineral rights to a land belonged to the lord of the land and not to the serf or fief who discovered the riches. If gold, gems, or even water was found to be in abundance on the land held by a serf that commodity became the property of the Lord. In this way the Lord could collect all riches for himself and also charge a levy or tax to the farmer of that land for using the water to quench the livestock and water the fields that the Lord was going to take from the farmer once harvested or slaughtered. Then, after the Lord took what he wanted, he would then charge another fee to the farmer for any grain or meat that the farmer kept for his family.
Any tenant of any land of any land baron was required to provide safe shelter for visiting noblemen if they were to come to visit the Lord. The serfs owned none of the property in which they lived, worked, or cared for. The more care that was given to a property by a farmer or serf, the more likely that noblemen traveling would require lodgings at those properties. The fief was required to remove himself and his family in order to accommodate the nobleman and his entourage.
The nobles did have one reckoning, however. If they were too heinous in taxation to their tenants the King would levy a severe tax against the Lord of the land. Of course this taxation did not get returned to the peasants, the King would hold those additional liens against the Lords. It was likely intended to ensure that the King would hold the highest amount of riches, therefore keeping the Lords submissive and unlikely to build armies up against the King.