To some people, the term feudalism suggests barons and knights fighting on horseback, noblemen swearing oaths of fealty to their liege lords, great stone castles, tournaments, jousts, and monk laboriously copying manuscripts in their stone cells. The feudal era is probably one of the most colorful and exciting periods of history, but it was also a time of bloodshed and violence, when human life was expendable, and the weak were forced by necessity to turn to the strong for protection and sustenance.
Here, Ralph Arnold unfolds the whole panorama of feudal life in England and the Continent, showing not only the way men lived, but the reasons for the development of feudalism and for its decline. In concise and lucid prose, he traces the development of the feudal system from its early beginnings to the year 850, when it began in earnest in Europe; he shows how it then spread to England with the Normans, took root, and flourished for some 400 years in England and Europe until it finally faded into a "romantic and somewhat absurd twilight."
As much as feudalism was a system to assure kings their armies and nobles their castles, it was a way of life for all the people. Here in clear detail is an account of how royalty, clergy, lords, knights, and serfs lived their daily life. Here are descriptions of the tournaments, the code of chivalry, the graning of knighthood, and many of the other ceremonies and rituals closely associated with the feudal system.
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