The word “feudal” comes from the Latin “feudum” which means the same as fief, which is a piece of land that is given temporarily to a vassal (subordinate ruler or military leader) as a form of reward for services rendered to the ruler (lord) as the land owner.

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Feudal understanding

If feudalism is related to a piece of land, it can be said that foedalism is control over matters relating to land ownership issues, especially those that occurred in Medieval Europe. The terms feudalism and feudalism were formerly known as social systems typical of the Middle Ages (in Europe and in other parts of the world). This is as a differentiator perode from modernity. Precisely, in the 16th century the term was raised in France.

In Europe feudalism around the IX-XII century was understood as the basis of local government, making laws, arranging and regulating the army, as well as various ins and outs related to executive power. In this ideology it is said that all the royal land and its contents came from the king. And the King as the owner of vast lands stretches in the territory of his kingdom.

In addition, feudalism is also defined as a system of government in which a leader, who is generally a nobleman, has many subordinates who are also still from the nobility. However, lower and commonly called vasal and vasal are obliged to pay tribute to their master (King).

Whereas the vassal in turn also had their own men and servants who gave them tribute. From this arises a pyramid-shaped hierarchical structure. The feudal people themselves depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, so land is the main production factor. Therefore, be the land owner as the ruling party and occupy the upper layer of the community structure and the lowest layer of farmers.

From these notions of foedalism, it can be concluded that what is at the core of discussion of feudalism is land, where humans live. Land has an important role in feudal times, because someone can be called in power if he has the main capital in the form of land which then develops into territory.

Basic Feudal Concepts

In feudalism, absolute power is in the hands of King Diraja who is in coalition with his subordinates’ cronies. Absolute power is related to the entire contents of the country which includes all of its natural wealth, the earth with all its contents, as well as all that moves on it belongs to the king.

It means that it is the property of the people if desired by the king, nobody can block it. Even if someone has a beautiful-looking girl who will be asked by the King or her retainer (who incidentally is a crony), then she must be willing to be a concubine.

In feudalism, there are at least four main components that can form this system, including:

  1. The Lord is the owner of the land, usually a nobleman from the royal family or religious circles.
  2. Vassal or Knights are nobles who provide services (generally in the form of military support) to the Lord or king in return for rented land.
  3. Fief is rented land and usually takes the form of agricultural land
  4. Serf or cultivators of land are farmers (lower class) who work on agricultural land with the status of half a slave.

Development of Feudalism

The terms feudalism and feudalism emerged from the 17th century and since the 1960s, historians have expanded the use of this term to include aspects of the social lives of land workers so that the term feudal society emerged. At that time, the term feudal did indeed lead to negative connotations.

Initially, feudalism was supported by a strong military position and then transformed into a royal system that gave birth to a new aristocratic group. A few centuries later, this feudalism referred to the ownership of land increasingly controlled by a handful of nobles.

The feudal system was highly developed in Europe with a feudal system of lords, landlords, vassals, and fiefs. The crisis of feudalism has begun to be seen as the city grows. Inflation conditions cause landlords to suffer losses. When the money economy was introduced, slowly the economic system that supported feudalism collapsed.

Development of Feudalism in Indonesia

This feudal understanding also developed in Indonesia. This understanding emerged from the Hindu kingdoms before the arrival of Islam and colonialism. At that time the kingdom was built with a system of grouping people according to their degree. At the time, feudalism also developed including in the Dutch colonial period and developed a capitalist system of “forced cultivation”.

During the colonial political period, the feudal system was observed and deeply exploited the community. Meanwhile in the royal land, the feudal system with its new hierarchical system in 1918 underwent a reform. The feudal system developed in Indonesia but along with the development of the existing social life system, this understanding has begun to disappear.


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