World Civilization: The Essential World History to 1500 - Essay Example

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In early European times, the continent was in a constant state of war and people sought protections from the upper classes such as the knights, nobles and lords who owned both the land and the people. Though there is much controversy and question as to how feudalism evolved, the…
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World Civilization: The Essential World History to 1500
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History Questions What societal needs and social and political trends were involved in the development of feudalism? What social problems did feudalism create, as well as solve, in western European societies?
In early European times, the continent was in a constant state of war and people sought protections from the upper classes such as the knights, nobles and lords who owned both the land and the people. Though there is much controversy and question as to how feudalism evolved, the one consistent theme is for protection. “Records inform us of men called "vassals," to whom lords gave precarious tenures "in benefice" in return for political and military services.” (Cazel 2009). Feudalism is essentially a system of social structure where the peasant men would serve the lord of the land in return for protection. There was no centralized form of government and everything was handled on a localized level. Because the peasant class could not afford to maintain any weapons or horses or other methods of self protection, they had to rely on this system. While this system solved the issue of protection for the peasants, it also made them obligated to these lords with no real rights or hope of improving their station.
This system gave rise to ranks and classes where each person knew his or her place in society. However, individuals did not move from the peasant class to the noble class. There was no hope for a better life. Peasants could not own their own land. In some cases, the peasants could not even marry without the approval of the lord who used this opportunity to make additional profits to approve marriages. However, there were reciprocal rights that both classes had to uphold and this custom did help set foundations for future governmental systems though as the wars lessened and the need for protection declined, along with other shortcomings in the system, caused the decline of feudalism.
Examine the impact of the Black Death on fourteenth century Europe in relation to that of Mongol occupation and destruction in societies from Eastern Europe to China.
The black death was an outbreak of the bubonic plague which started in Central Asia and spread throughout much of Europe in the mid 14th century. This killed 25-50% of the European civilization and created a number of social and religious upheavals that changed the course of history. There were many consequences to this such as an end to current wars and shortage of labor. However, the Mongol dominance declined during this time which may be one of the most significant impacts of this plague. This period prior to the black death is often referred to as the Age of the Mongols because of their success.
The Mongols were a war machine and easily conquered those areas they chose to occupy. They expanded throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Yet, one of the consequences of their travel was transmitting the bubonic plague from China and Central Asia to the Middle East and Europe. Arguably, it is the Mongols who escalated the spread of this disease. With their numbers declining due to the deaths, other groups had numerical superiority and could fight off these invasions. New leaders also emerged during this time bringing stability back to those civilizations that had been occupied by the Mongol invaders.
Works Cited
Cazel, Jr., Fred A. "Feudalism." Encyclopedia Americana. 2009. Grolier Online. 28 July. 2009 . Read More
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