University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / The first hundred years

I: Western Europe on the Eve of the Crusades,   pp. [2]-29 PDF (10.8 MB)

Page 18

Control of the bishops within their lands, the prelates of Burgundy and Champagne
depended on the king. The bishops had large, rich fiefs with many knightly
vassals. Hence the man who ap pointed the bishops had the use of extensive
resources. Never theless, the Capetian monarchy of the early eleventh century
could do little more than survive. In the Ile de France it had little authority
and outside none whatever. 
 Along the borders of France feudal institutions had spread into other regions.
The county of Barcelona, once Charlemagne's Spanish March, was a thoroughly
feudal state and there were strong feudal elements in the kingdoms of Aragon
and Navarre. In Germany, Lorraine and Franconia were essentially feudal.
The kingdom of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire ruled by the emperors of
the Saxon dynasty did not constitute a feudal state. The base of the royal
power lay in the duchy of Saxony, which was almost untouched by feudalism.
It was a land of free farmers, noble and non-noble, who were always ready
to follow their duke to war. Outside Saxony the imperial authority depended
almost entirely on the prelates. The bishops and abbots of Germany, Lombardy,
and Tuscany were imperial appointees with wide, de legated authority. Their
great fiefs and their resources were at the emperor's disposal. Although
the counts of Germany were nonhereditary royal agents, they were essentially
judicial officers, and the military control rested in the hands of the dukes.
The emper ors, dukes, counts, and other landholders occasionally granted
fiefs, but the offices of duke and count were not fiefs. The power of a duke
depended on the extent of his estates and his ability to inspire the loyalty
of the people of his duchy. Thus the dukes of Franconia, Swabia, and Bavaria
were usually powerful figures while the duke of Lorraine was likely to be
a mere figurehead. In this same period England was still a Teutonic monarchy.
Small men commended themselves to great men, swore oaths of fidelity to them,
and occasionally held land in return for military service, but there were
neither vassals nor fiefs in the continental sense. 
 During the course of the eleventh century feudalism expanded rapidly. The
conquest of England by duke William of Normandy created a new feudal state.
King William retained the powers that had been enjoyed by his Anglo-Saxon
predecessors. In every shire there was a sheriff appointed by the king and
removable at his pleasure who presided over the popular courts, supervised
the king's demesne manors, and collected his dues. William also col 

Go up to Top of Page