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[fyood-l-iz-uh m] /ˈfyud lˌɪz əm/

the , or its principles and practices.
Also called feudal system. the legal and social system that evolved in W Europe in the 8th and 9th centuries, in which vassals were protected and maintained by their lords, usually through the granting of fiefs, and were required to serve under them in war See also vassalage, fief
any social system or society, such as medieval Japan or Ptolemaic Egypt, that resembles medieval European feudalism

a coinage of historians, first attested 1839; see feudal. Feudal system attested from 1776.
feudalism [(fyoohd-l-iz-uhm)]

A system of obligations that bound lords and their subjects in Europe during much of the Middle Ages. In theory, the king owned all or most of the land and gave it to his leading nobles in return for their loyalty and military service. The nobles in turn held land that peasants, including serfs, were allowed to farm in return for the peasants’ labor and a portion of their produce. Under feudalism, people were born with a permanent position in society. (See fief and vassal.)

Note: Today, the word feudal is sometimes used as a general term for a set of social relationships that seems unprogressive or out of step with modern society.


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  • Feudality

    [fyoo-dal-i-tee] /fyuˈdæl ɪ ti/ noun, plural feudalities. 1. the state or quality of being feudal. 2. the principles and practices of feudalism. 3. a fief or fee. /fjuːˈdælɪtɪ/ noun (pl) -ties 1. the state or quality of being feudal 2. a fief or fee

  • Feudalization

    [fyood-l-ahyz] /ˈfyud lˌaɪz/ verb (used with object), feudalized, feudalizing. 1. to make ; bring under the . /ˈfjuːdəˌlaɪz/ verb 1. (transitive) to make feudal; create feudal institutions in (a society)

  • Feudatory

    [fyoo-duh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈfyu dəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ noun, plural feudatories. 1. a person who holds lands by feudal tenure; a feudal vassal. 2. a fief or fee. adjective 3. (of a kingdom or state) under the overlordship of another sovereign or state. 4. (of a feudal estate) holding or held by feudal tenure. /ˈfjuːdətərɪ; in […]

  • Feudal-system

    noun 1. the political, military, and social system in the Middle Ages, based on the holding of lands in fief or fee and on the resulting relations between lord and vassal.

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