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Word Count: 353
Feudalism began between the 8th and 9th centuries It was first recognized in France and later spread to most countries of Western Europe When Charlemagne died there was no strong ruler to take his place That was when feudalism was established as the main system of government and way of life in Medieval Europe Europe was politically divided It was hit by several invasions of the Vikings the Magyars Muslim pirates and others People could no longer look to a central ruler for protection They had to seek the protection of the lords who had armies of their own To expand ones power and wealth lords would make alliances with other nobles A lord would grant land to another noble in exchange for protection and military services This grant was called a fief Those who received the fiefs were called vassals Within the fief the vassal was the highest authority Fiefs could be various sizes Some were single estates just big enough for a knight and his family Others were large Some were as big as a country or providence The vassals promised the lord military services Military service was their main obligation This service was usually limited to 40 days a year Vassals also owed payments called aids on certain occasions When a lords oldest daughter married the vassal made special payments as a gift The vassal also had to pay for the arming of the lords oldest son when he became a knight Vassals pledged to pay the ransom for their lord in the event of his capture during war Also a vassals son usually inherited his fathers responsibility to serve and pay aids Before receiving the fief the son had to pay a fee called a relief The amount of payment all depended on the size of the fief The lord in turn had obligations to his vassals He promised the vassal protection and could not deny the vassals claim to the
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