Feudal Production Mode
We explain to you what the feudal mode of production is, how it arose, its social classes and other characteristics. In addition, the beginning of capitalism.
What is the feudal mode of production?
In Marxist terminology, it is known as feudal mode of production (or in plain terms: feudalism), the socio-economic organization that governs medieval society in West and other regions of the world.
In these societies, political power was decentralized and was exercised independently by the feudal lords: the aristocracy or nobility that transmitted power inbred, and that was the owner of Arable land.
According to Karl Marx's theorizations, feudalism historically precedes the capitalist mode of production. It consisted of an economic dynamic of submission and exploitation of the peasantry by the aristocracy and the landowners.
However, the landowners were also in relation to submission with a superior political power, which was the crown, which allowed the aristocrats autonomy to politics in their feudal territories, in exchange for loyalty in the military field.
It can serve you: Middle Ages
Characteristics of the feudal mode of production
The feudal mode of production was essentially a model of agricultural exploitation . It was supported by a peasant mass responsible for the production of goods and governed by a feudal lord: a landowner who imposed their particular order on them, while exercising political and legal power, although the latter also intervened the Church (the clergy).
The peasants or servants paid their respective feudal lords a majority portion of what was produced from their work, in exchange for military security, order and jurisprudence. In addition, they obtained permission to inhabit tiny portions of land where their families settled.
In this relationship of exploitation of the peasantry by the aristocracy, however, there were no slavery laws, although the living conditions of the former could often resemble it. Instead, vassalage relations were established, which politically linked the peasant with the fief he inhabited.
The fiefdoms were the minimum productive unit of the system (hence its name: feudal ). They were territorially divided into:
- Stately or Sunday reservations . Its production was destined to pay tribute to the feudal lord.
- Mansos In them the peasantry carried out the production of their own goods and thus guaranteed subsistence.
There was no type of currency or unified economic system in this model. On the other hand, cities were poorly developed compared to the countryside.
Emergence of feudalism
The emergence of the feudal model is explained by the state of disorder and fragmentation of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century. Such a state of shock and dissolution of the instituted powers allowed the decentralization of political power and the emergence of separate kingdoms.
Each of these kingdoms was divided in turn into fiefdoms led by the nobility: dukes, barons and other noble titles. However, all of them were morally and legally subject to the Catholic Church, responsible for maintaining social order through the indoctrination of the masses.
In addition, the Church provided spiritual legitimacy to the crown, since the kings, elected between the aristocratic warrior caste and landowner, were considered placed on the throne by God. This era was prodigal in wars, so the peasantry willingly agreed to belong to a fief in exchange for order and protection, even if it were despotic.
Social classes of feudalism
The feudal system was practically immovable in terms of social classes, that is, the flow between peasants and noble aristocrats was very unlikely. The former were poor and in charge of agricultural work, and the latter were the owners of the land.
These two social classes differed widely throughout their lives and could cross their destinies rarely, being one of them war, the main obligation of the nobles and secondary of their vassals. A third social class was the clergy . To them the Catholic Church guaranteed their subsistence but prevented them from accumulating properties of any kind.
As a general rule, the status of noble or peasant was maintained throughout life, since the nobility was transmitted by blood line (hence the talk of blood blue or sangre patricia ). The limited ways of social ascent were the heroism in the war, the ascription to the clergy and the marriage with people of ancestry or noble surname.
Towards the end of the feudal model a new social class appeared, the bourgeoisie, composed of free men possessing businesses and capitals, although not so of noble titles. As this class grew and became entrenched as the new ruling class, feudalism approached its end.
End of feudal production mode
The feudal model of production in Western Europe came to an end around the 15th century, in the middle of the Bourgeois Revolutions, a period of deep social and political changes that responded to the emergence of a new social class: the bourgeoisie.
Of commoner origin but business owners, ex-officio merchants or capital holders, the bourgeoisie were gradually displacing the aristocracy, whose possession of land ceased to be a guarantee of power, as it emerged in the nations and with them the presence of a currency of common use in the community.
At this time of change the Church lost its firm grip on medieval culture as religion was displaced by the cult of reason and thought. New scientific knowledge, new forms of goods production and accumulation were achieved.
These and other innovations were the result of revolutionary agricultural and industrial techniques, and the profound cultural change that occurred during the Renaissance. The definitive end of feudalism came with the abolition of the absolutist monarchy during the 18th century . The French Revolution (1789) was an important milestone in that regard.
Emergence of the capitalist system
The accumulation of goods and political influences allowed the bourgeoisie to access, commercially, noble titles initially, but then to land, political favors. Thus, it was erected as the new ruling class.
The power of the bourgeoisie did not reside as before in the blood, but in capital, that is, in the amount of money that it could accumulate and exchange for goods and services. The ruined aristocracy, on the other hand, was increasingly isolated in its rural areas.
On the contrary, the revolution was brewing in cities, where urban life became much more important . This would bring a new system: capitalism, in which feudal peasants became workers, and the countryside was displaced by the factory.
Follow with: Modern Age