How did the Feudal System work?
Once William became king of England, he had to decide how he was going govern the country. He did not want the old English nobles to keep their estates, because theywould be powerful and might try to overthrow him. Anyway they had to make room for William's supporters who had been promised land in return for helping him. William was very careful not to just giveland away. His supporters were rewarded, but they had duties to perform as well. This system of duties and rewards was called the Feudal System. In Normandy when barons or bishops were given land theyhad to swear an oath of loyalty to the lord who was giving it. This called doing homage. The barons or bishops then became tenants-in-chief and agreed to provide knights (mounted soldiers) to guardcastles or fight in wars for their lords. The more land the baron was given, the more knights he had to provide.
The tenants-in-chief sometimes had their knights living with them intheir castles. Usually, however, they gave some of their own land to the knights, who in return did homage and agreed to fight when asked. The knights became under-tenants. They kept some land forthemselves and shared the rest among the peasants who farmed it. The peasants did homage to the knights who, in turn, promised to protect them. The feudal system proved idea for distributing the land ofnewly conquered England. William could have a large army whenever he like, without the expense of keeping soldiers at his royal court. He also made sure that his supporters were rewarded, and thesame time stayed loyal to him. TASKS 1. Draw the diagram of the feudal system into your books. 2. Copy out the following passage filling in the gaps… William did not want the _____ nobles to keep theirland. He wanted to give it to his ________. As well as receiving land, the nobles had to swear an ______ and agree to do _______. William needed an army so the nobles had to promise to provide...
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