Feudalism • The social structure of the Middle Ages was organized round the system of Feudalism. • Feudalism in practice meant that the country was not governed by the king but by individual lords, or barons, who administered their own estates, dispensed their own justice, minted their own money, levied taxes and tolls, and demanded military service from vassals. • Usually the lords could field greater armies than the king. • In theory the king was the chief feudal lord, but in reality the individual lords were supreme in their own territory. • Many kings were little more than figurehead rulers
How it works…feudalism • Feudalism was built upon a relationship of obligation and mutual service between vassals and lords. • A vassal held his land, or fief, as a grant from a lord. • When a vassal died, his heir was required to publicly renew his oath of faithfulness (fealty) to his lord. • Thispublic oath was called "homage".
KINGS… • In theory the king was the chief feudal lord, but in reality the individual lords were supreme in their own territory. • Many kings were little more than figurehead rulers
Lords… A Lord's Obligations: • On the lord's side, he was obliged to protect the vassal, give military aid, and guard his children. • If a daughter inherited, the lord arranged her marriage. • If there were no heirs the lord disposed of the fief as he chose.
Vassals A Vassal's (Knight) Obligations: • The vassal was required to attend the lord at his court, help administer justice, and contribute money if needed. • He had to answer a summons to battle, bringing an agreed upon number of fighting men. • As well, he must feed and house the lord and his company when they travelled across his land.
Serfs… The Serf's Life. • Although not technically a slave, a serf was bound to a lord for life. • He could own no property and needed the lord's permission to marry. • Under no circumstance could a serf leave the land unless he chose to run away. • If he ran to a town and managed to stay there for a year and a day, he was a free man. • However, the serf did have rights. • He could not be displaced if the manor changed hands. • He could not be required to fight, and he was entitled to the protection of the lord.
Heraldry • Knights needed a new form of identification during battle--other than their faces. • They started decorating their outer garments, flags and shields, eventually leading to heraldry, the creating of coats of arms. • This is where our picture of the medieval era comes from--decorative crests, symbolism, magical beasts. • Each color, pattern, and image stands for something different, allowing each knight to personalize his ID. • The crests came in helpful as nobles--many who couldn't even sign their own name--made seals out of them to use as their stamp of approval.
Heraldry • Heraldry is still alive today; many families, churches, and schools have their own coat of arms. • Today they are no longer needed but are retained for their symbolic and sentimental value.
Here's how to make your own shield (Although there is more to a coat of arms then just the shield (the supporters, helm, crest, etc.) • it gets awfully confusing and detailed to do everything right, so we decided to just explain how to make the shield): • Start with a shield--it can be of many shapes, but stick with the basic one.
The background of a shield is called the "field" Traditional heraldry used the following colors and metals: Colors: Gules - Bright Red: fire, nobleness, boldness, virility. Originally only princes could wear it because it also represented cruelty and supposedly princes were cruel to their enemies. Azure - Royal Blue or Sky Blue(not pastel): the sky, purity, justice, goodness, sincerity Vert - Emerald Green:happiness, pleasure, youth, health Purpure - Royal Purple: usually equated with red and its meanings Sable - Black: sadness, melancholy. The lowest color--for the clergy who should avoid vanity and for widows and widowers. Metals: Or - Gold (yellow)The sun. Originally only princes could wear it Argent - Silver(white)The moon. Stood forpurity, justice, childhood, hope,
2. Divide it: In half means marriage: the left when facing the shield (or Dexter) the husband's arms and the right (or Sinister) the wife's. This is called impalement.
Eldest child(well, it's supposed to be son, but if you're a girl, we'll let you make a coat of arms anyway): 3. Show your rank in the family.Depending on which child you are, you put a different small design--called a cadency mark--in the middle of the upper part of the shield. The head of the family's shield doesn't have any cadency marks. Second: Third: Fourth: Fifth: Sixth: Seventh: Eighth:
In quarters (quartering). The First quarter (upper left), and sometimes the Fourth (bottom right) are usually that of the bearer's parents. The others are coats inherited by marriages to heiresses--who inherited it because the family had no male heirs to carry on the family name and coat.
4. Decorate: Animals and images of all sorts were used on shields (Animals are generally portrayed in profile): flowers, stars, mermaids, suns, lions, eagles, angels, unicorns, dragons, monsters of all kinds, and even partridges. They meant different things at different times to different people. Decorate your shield with whatever you think best represents you.
References http://www.britainexpress.com/History/Feudalism_and_Medieval_life.htm http://library.thinkquest.org/3708/shield.htm http://www.yourchildlearns.com/her_act.htm