Today you will learn the basic framework of feudalism in Europe and fill in the feudal pyramid.
The Roman Empire slowly dissolves, leading to chaos Trade declines Cities, bridges and roads start to fall apart Crime rises People begin to be attacked by barbarians Food and peace are scarce. Viking attacks show Northern Europe they have a need to protect themselves locally at a moment’s notice.
Feudalism –a political, social and economic system in which less powerful people promise loyalty to more powerful people in return for protection and land.
Loyalty can be important today among friends and family, in business, and in politics. Loyalty was also important after the fall of the Roman Empire. Promises of loyalty helped hold European Society together. Western Europeans built a feudal system based on loyalty and relationships. By doing so, they hoped to gain political order, protection from outside threats, and a stable form of leadership.
Provided Land to the nobles In return the nobles swore loyalty to the king and supplied them with knights, and food.
Provided peasants and serfs with land to farm and protection. Provided knights with food and land.
Produce food for the kingdom and pay taxes to the nobles and king. In return they get land to farm and protection. Peasants had some rights – such as the right to leave the land. Serfs were “tied to the land” meaning that they were not allowed to leave the land and were considered part of it.
Basically, I’m so powerful, I’m above it all. Seems like the Kings should be showing me respect! And I’m a monk – the lowest of all the religious classes. I live on a monastery and serve my Christian followers.
What does your home look like? Do you own your own home? What else? Now, brainstorm four questions you’d like to answer about one of following members of European feudal classes: Monk, Monarch, Lord, Knight, Peasant/Serf I will assign you one class, and you should answer as many of your questions as possible using the reading. Due Thursday.
Where did monarchs get their power? Monarchs believed in the “divine right of kings,” which meant that God gave them the right to rule. What were the responsibilities of a Monarch? Expected to keep order and to provide protection for their vassals. Some were very involved in their kingdoms, while others were more of a figurehead.
What responsibilities did the lords have in the feudal system? Lords managed and defended their manors and acted as judges. They fought for their own lords in times of war and supplied soldiers. They also appointed officials. What was the role of noblewomen (ladies) in the feudal system? Could hold land and have all the duties of men (except for fighting). Noblewomen raised and trained their children and sometimes the children of other noble families. They were also responsible for overseeing their large households.
What responsibilities did knights have in the feudal system? Knights were the mounted soldiers in the feudal system and were expected to be loyal to their Church and lord, to be fair, and to protect the helpless. Suppose that you are a knight. Write a code of chivalry for yourself.
What were the responsibilities of peasants in the feudal system? Most peasants worked at raising crops and tending livestock. Some worked as carpenters, shoemakers, and smiths. Peasants paid taxes to lords. What were some of the difficulties or challenges of being a peasant or serf? The daily lives of peasants revolved around work. They had to pay many taxes. They were required to grind their grain at the lord’s mill and the miller kept grain for the lord and for himself. Serfs were bound to the manor and couldn’t leave without permission.
For this activity, you will be a member of European society during the 11 th century. In this society, people were born into different classes and serfs were peasants who did not have the freedom to leave their lords’ land without permission.
Each of you should have a role card. You are going to experience European feudalism. For each step, make sure you read and follow the directions. When the bell rings, be silent or die of the plague (out in the hall!)
Monarch: Walk in a stately manner and sit on the throne. Enjoy the items that have been provided by your loyal subjects. All others: Applaud respectfully as the monarch approaches his or her throne. Have a treat.
Serfs: Go to your manor, sit on the floor nearby, and hold onto one leg of a desk. Begin producing food for the manor by neatly coloring in the seeds on each food token you were given. Knights: Take an oath of loyalty to your protect your noble and manor. Monarch and Nobles : Watch the serfs go to their manors.
Vikings: Go to “Scandanavia.” Watch the manors grow and decide which ones you should attack in which order. You’ll be arriving there in ships shortly to attack, but it will take awhile to cross the seas….
Nobles: Kneel before the monarch and say: Oh, powerful monarch, I humbly request land for my family. Monarch: One by one, take each noble’s hand and have him or her repeat this oath: In taking this oath of loyalty, I swear to be loyal to you and never make war against you. Monarch: Tear off a fief token and give it to each lord. Knights: Watch the nobles while you pretend to groom your horse (any chair). Serfs: Watch the nobles while you continue to produce food for your manor.
Nobles: Sit on a desk at your manor. Demand payment from each serf by saying: I have allowed you to live on my manor. In exchange, you must give me a large portion of the goods you produce. In return, you can farm and live on this land safely. Give me four of your food tokens now. Serfs: Listen to your nobles, then tear off four tokens and give them to your noble as payment for the privilege of living on his or her manor. Knights: Watch the nobles collect payment form the serfs while you pretend to polish your “shield.”
Nobles: Attract knights to defend your manor by offering them payment and land. Offer a knight as many food tokens as you wish, but you must keep some for yourself. Knights: Approach each noble to find out what he or she would be willing to pay you in food tokens for your military service. Kneel when you have reached an agreement. Monarch: Watch the knights seek out different nobles. Serfs: Watch the knights seek out different nobles while you continue to produce food for your manor.
Nobles: Have Knights with whom you have reached an agreement kneel and repeat this oath: In exchange for the goods and land given to me, I promise to be loyal and to fight in defense of this manor and kingdom. Nobles: Pay your knights by giving them food tokens.
Serfs and Knights: Work to arrange desks around your manor to create a four cornered castle. Knights move your horses inside. Lords: Make sure your knights and serfs are making your castle properly. Monarch: Select two Knights to help defend your castle in case of attack. Vikings: Prepare paper wads to use as your weapons.
Monarch: Huddle at the center of your castle and quietly watch as each manor is attacked. Nobles: Keep your people calm and direct your knights how to protect you. Knights: Use your “shield” to prevent the paper from striking the noble and serfs. Serfs: When your manor is attacked, exclaim these words: You feeble invader, you will never take our castle! Vikings: You will work as a team to attack the manors, one at a time. If you hit anyone then you kill them. You do not get your paper wad back. If you kill the noble the manor is under your control.
How did it feel to be a monarch? A noble? A knight? A serf? In what ways were the nobles, knights, and serfs interdependent? Do you think loyalty oaths were necessary? What do you think would happen if someone violated a loyalty oath? What were the benefits of this type of society? The challenges or drawbacks? How well did Feudalism establish order in Europe in the Middle Ages?
People & Events Samuel Chase When Republicans under Thomas Jefferson led an impeachment attack against Samuel Chase, an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, the agenda was clearly political. The outcome of Chase's trial would largely determine whether the judiciary could remain independent. And the fly in Jefferson's ointment would be his own vice president, Aaron Burr, who was wanted in two states for the death of Alexander Hamilton. Born in Princess Anne, Maryland, in 1741, Samuel Chase had served his country honorably. He held a seat in both the Maryland assembly and the Continental Congress. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Before being appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington, Chase had been chief judge of the Maryland General Court. A Federalist, Chase believed in a strong central government. But in his decisions, he also reflected a concern for the rights of individuals with due process under the law. President Thomas Jefferson, leader of the Republicans, disliked the idea of judges being appointed for life. He feared that under such a system, the judiciary might become too powerful. And when Samuel Chase expressed Federalist opinions from the bench, Jefferson encouraged the House of Representatives to impeach him. Chase's trial would serve as an important test case. Could a judge be impeached for expressing unpopular opinions? Or did a judge need to be guilty of crimes in order to be impeached? Jefferson was eager to have the question answered. If he could impeach Chase easily, other Federalist judges, notably Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall, would probably follow.
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