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Word Count: 619
The evolution of highly diverse forms customs and institutions makes it almost impossible to accurately depict feudalism as a whole but certain components of the system may be regarded as characteristic strict division into social classes ie nobility clergy peasantry and in the later Middle Ages burgesses private jurisdiction based on local custom and the landholding system dependent upon the fief or fee Feudalism was based on contracts made among nobles and although it was intricately connected with the manorial system it must be considered as distinct from it Although some men held their land in alod without obligation to any person they were exceptions to the rule in the middle ages In an ideal feudal society the ownership of all land was vested in the king Beneath him was a hierarchy of nobles the most important nobles holding land directly from the king and the lesser from them down to the seigneur who held a single manor The political economy of the system was local and agricultural and at its base was the manorial system Under the manorial system the peasants laborers or serfs held the land they worked from the seigneur who granted them use of the land and his protection in return for personal services and for dues The feudal method of holding land was by fief the grantor of the fief was the suzerain or overlord and the recipient was the vassal The fief was formally acquired following the ceremony of homage in which the vassal kneeling before the overlord put his hands in those of the lord and declared himself his man and the overlord bound himself by kissing the vassal and raising him to his feet The vassal then swore an oath of fealty vowing to be faithful to the overlord and to perform the acts and services due him This formal procedure served to cement the personal relationship between lord and vassal after the ceremony the
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