C. PATTERNS OF CENTERS IN DEVELOPED
Patterns of Multiple Centers. Feudal
IFeudal regimes constitute one of the most fascinating types of social and political system in the history
1 The term "feudalism" has been conventionally applied to the type of society and the
political system originating and dominant in western
and central Europe during the greater part of the
Middle Ages. The term has also been applied to
types of society and systems of government featuring similar characteristics in antiquity and in medieval times in other parts of the world and, by the
Marxist school, to a type of society and economy
characterized by serfdom, usually succeeding the
economic systems based on slavery and preceding
capitalism.Although a great variety of definitions of feudalism exist, some minimal common characteristics of
a fully developed feudal system are accepted by
most scholars. Such characteristics include lord‐
vassal relationships, a personalized government most
effective on the local level and with relatively little
separation of political functions, a system of landholding consisting of fiefs given in return for service
and assuring future services, private armies, a code
of honor in which military obligations are stressed,
and specification of seignorial and manorial rights of
the lord over the peasant.
2The basic features of feudalism imply traits in
each of the major institutional spheres of a society:
in economics, polity, law, and in social stratification
and organization. It may be worth while to spell out
these characteristics in each sphere in greater detail.Perhaps the fullest definition of feudalism in the
political sphere is given by Weber, who characterizes
it as one type of patriarchal "authority." According
to this definition, political feudalism is marked by:
|1. ||The authority of the chief which is reduced to
the likelihood that the vassals will voluntarily remain
faithful to their oaths of fealty.|
|2. ||The political corporate group is completely replaced by a system of relations of purely personal
loyalty between the lord and his vassals and between
the vassals and their own subvassals (subinfeudation)
etc. Only a lord's own vassals are bound by fealty to
him; whereas they in turn can claim the fealty of
their own vassals, etc.|
|3. ||Only in the case of a "felony" does the lord have
a right to deprive his vassal of his fief....|
|4. ||There is a hierarchy of social rank corresponding
to the hierarchy of fiefs through the process of
subinfeudation.... This is not, however, a hierarchy
of authority in the bureaucratic sense....|
|5. ||The elements in the population who do not hold
fiefs involving some element of patrimonial or other
political authority are "subjects," that is they are
|6. ||Powers over the individual budgetary unit, including domains, slaves, and serfs, the fiscal rights of |
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Political Sociology:A Reader.
Contributors: S. N. Eisenstadt - Editor.
Publisher: Basic Books.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1971.
Page number: 221.
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