miércoles, 23 de noviembre de 2016



Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.
Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief),[1] then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the Middle Ages. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944),[2] feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around the three key concepts of lordsvassals and fiefs.

In support of the fighting man
At the heart of feudalism is a basic idea common to any society with a warrior caste. Such men need to be provided for. In a simple economy this means that the produce of an appropriate number of peasants or serfs must underwrite the expenses of the fighting man. In ancient Sparta, where all free men are warriors, the support comes from the defeated and enslaved peasants of Messenia, known as the helots. 

In medieval Europe the system is more complex. The central economic feature is the manorial system. Transcending that, and dependent upon it, is the interconnecting network of loyalties and obligations which make up feudalism. 

Lord and vassal: 8th - 12th century
The feudal system comes into focus during the 8th century, when the Carolingian dynasty is expanding its territory. Charles Martel grants his nobles rights over tracts of land, to yield the income with which they can provide fighting men for his army. This act of generosity, ultimately for his own benefit, requires an oath of loyalty in return. 

Thus there develops the relationship between lord and vassal which is at the heart of feudalism. The lord gives the vassal an income-yielding fief (fehu-od in Frankish, the basis of the word 'feudal'). The vassal does homage to the lord, formalizing the relationship.

The largest fiefs are those given directly by monarchs to noblemen or barons, who then subcontract parts of these fiefs to vassals of their own. Only in this way, sharing out both the benefit and the obligation, can the king's vassals be sure of bringing their promised contingent of armed men into the field. 

A pyramid of loyalty is thus created, in which each man - except at the very top and bottom - is a vassal to one lord and a lord to several vassals. At the very peak of European feudal society is the pope. By the end of the 12th century the papacy has more feudal vassals than any temporal ruler. 

Feudal Europe: 10th - 15th century
Although feudalismdevelops as early as the 8th century, under the Carolingian dynasty, it does not prevail widely in Europe until the 10th century - by which time virtually the entire continent is Christian. 

For the next 500 years, great accumulations of power and landed wealth pass between a few favoured players as if in a vast board game. The rules are complex, and to an outside eye deeply mysterious. But certain actions and qualifications bring a distinct advantage. 

The top players in feudal Europe come from a small group of people - an aristocracy, based on skill in battle, with a shared commitment to a form of Christianity (at once power-hungry and idealistic) in which the pope in Rome has special powers as God's representative on earth. As a great feudal lord with moral pretensions, holding the ring between secular sovereigns, the pope can be seen as Europe's headmaster. 

Bishops and abbots are part of the small feudal aristocracy, for they are mostly recruited from the noble families holding the great fiefs. Indeed bishops can often be found on the battlefield, fighting it out with with the best. 
As in any other context, the strongest argument in feudalism - transcending the niceties of loyalty - is naked force. The Normans in England or in Sicily rule by right of conquest, and feudal disputes are regularly resolved in battle. 

But feudalism also provides many varieties of justification for force. And the possession of a good justification is almost as reassuring to a knight as a good suit of armour. 
One excellent excuse for warfare is the approval of the church. In 1059 the pope virtually commands the Normans to attack Sicily, by giving them feudal rights over territory not as yet theirs. Similarly Rome lets it be known that the Holy See is on the side of William when he invades England in 1066. 

Another important form of justification is a dynastic claim to a territory. Generations of marriages, carefully arranged for material gain, result in an immensely complex web of relationships - reflected often in kingdoms of very surprising shape on the map of Europe. 
A simple example is the vast swathe of land ruled over in the 12th century by Henry II. Stretching from Northumberland to the south of France, it has been brought together by a process of inheritance and dynastic marriage. 

More complex, but equally typical of Christian feudalism, is the case of Sicily. In the 11th century the Normans seize it by invitation of the pope. In the 12th century the island is joined to distant Germany because the German king marries a Sicilian princess. And in the 13th century it is linked with France because the pope, intervening again, is now opposed to the Germans. 

Complexity and decline: 12th - 15th century

With the passage of time the feudal system becomes more complex, more rigid, more open to abuse. Fiefs tend to become hereditary, reducing the personal link between vassal and lord. Payments of money begin to replace the original simple obligation of armed service. Religious institutions - monasteries, abbeys, bishoprics - take their place in the hierarchy, providing administrative and sometimes even military support for their feudal lords, while growing prosperous through the efficient administration of their manors.

The original feudalism, a structure of personal relationships, tends in one direction towards centralized monarchy - and in another towards anarchy.









Bourgeois revolution’ is not a term we hear much these days. The gentry and nobility who led the long English struggle for a constitutionalism to hem in the Crown – climaxing with the Civil wars of 1640s and more durably with the 1688 Glorious Revolution – may well have been capitalist, in so far as their income derived from farming organised for exchange and profit. Honour, status, and politicking remained their primary determinants of existence. As for the bourgeoisie proper, unless engaged in the American trade most merchants supported the royalists in the Civil Wars. The intentions of the Roundheads in the English Civil War did not differ so radically from the aristocrat-led rebels of the Fronde. We can legitimately see the English Civil Wars as part of a general crisis of the 17th-century world.
The French Revolution, in contrast, certainly was made by a bourgeoisie, but not a particularly capitalist one. Many were tax-farmers, lawyers, civil servants, and so on, and those few engaged in living by commerce or industry generally had little time for subversion. Karl Kautsky, the chief theorist of Marxism in the generation after Marx and Engels, made just this point in a book published for the Revolution’s centenary: those pre-1789 French bourgeoisie most directly engaged in capitalist enterprise were the least likely to be anti-royalist revolutionaries.
Bourgeois modernity, therefore, was not usually an outcome of the middle classes taking over the state. It might be seen as A conflict between two established social forces. The aristocracy tended to favour a representative parliamentarianism that would inhibit the executive state from interfering with the laws, privileges and rights of the propertied. The crown, for its part, struggled to subordinate powerful aristocracy, open landed estates to the law of the realm, and encourage the prosperity of taxable commerce and trade.
What emerged in 18th-century Britain, after the Glorious Revolution, was a balance. Parliament limited the power of the crown, and the aristocracy were enjoined to observe the rule of law. This constitutional balance protected the productive economy from arbitrary rent-seeking, which in turn increased the tax-base. As fiscal instruments arrived at consensually through parliament, the state’s credit rating benefitted and it was amply financed in its pursuit of foreign and imperial aims. The executive preserved its freedom of manoeuvre in international affairs while the aristocracy continued to dominate governance. As trade, commerce and in time industry flowered, an urban bourgeoisie proper developed, but it did not seek to invade the prerogatives of government. They benefitted from the constitutional balance, knowing that it rested upon the freedom and prosperity of their pursuits. The tax-credit state in balance left the bourgeois goose un-plucked, laying its golden ages.
Britain’s success drew envious looks from the continent. It was no easy thing to reproduce its success, however, particularly as land borders made it all the more difficult for governments wary of foreign armies to sacrifice independence from interfering representative assemblies for the sake of economic and fiscal strength down the line. The French Revolution showed what might happen if reform turned into revolution. Here a bourgeoisie already used to involvement in government (being a good deal less commercial than its British counterpart) tried to cut out the aristocracy altogether, but proved inadequate as a genuinely ruling class and fell under the wheels of Napoleonic militarism.
19th-century liberalism saw much more clearly the precise function of an individualistic middle class. The aristocracy had traditionally lived by bending local and central government to its will, as an instrument of rent-seeking and fount of status and privilege. The bourgeoisie, in contrast, lived by myriad trans-societal networks: businessmen via the market, administrators via the governed territorial state, professionals via information linkages. They did not wish to seize upon the executive, as they did not make a living from it as such. They would support, not seek to displace, a government that left commerce to fructify.

After 1848, it became clear that the bourgeoisie were destined to be a foundational rather than a governing class. Revolutions ‘from above’ were common – Bismarck being the most famous ‘white revolutionary’ – as governments introduced civil and political liberties and representative institutions, the better to foster commercial development and fiscal strength.



In urban areas there was essentially freedom within the walls. When cities and towns received their charters, a certain amount of freedom was gained, but it was by no means a democratic society.

Population and Urban Environment

Medieval cities were extremely small by our standards. London had only 10,000-100,000 residents during the medieval period. Cities were geographically small with the average about 1 square mile with 300,000 inhabitants. The streets were exceedingly narrow and unpaved; mud was common. Sometimes the main street and market square were cobblestoned. Cities and larger towns were usually surrounded by a wall, which enhanced the separation between urban and rural, but the fields frequently came up to the wall. City dwellers would help rural people who came to the city for market.


The guild hall was a large building and was often the building that housed city protection until the late middle ages when cannons were introduced. Churches were the largest buildings especially in cathedral cities. Cathedrals were the seat of the bishops of a diocese. Generally there were several parish churches and castles that straddled the city walls with the main gate to the city.
Space was at a premium. Houses were tiny and clustered closely together. When a story was added to a house the second story projected out over the first, and so on. The results were that houses facing each other on opposite sides of the street nearly met in the middle and the houses formed a tunnel-like passage way over the street. The first floor generally housed the artisans shop with living quarters on the upper floors. These houses were made of wood; therefore, they burned frequently. Fire was a constant threat in medieval cities and towns.

Sanitation and Health

Contents of chamber pots were emptied into the streets. With mud streets this presented a messy problem. With a heavy rain one could hope for a flushing action to wash the excrement to the river. A light rain only added to the problem. This was a health problem; polluted springs and wells were common. The most commonly consumed beverages were not water but wine and beer. Beggars, who were seen as social victims, abounded. Disease was viewed as punishment. Smallpox was endemic, leprosy was common and the victim was segregated.

Those who operated the cities and large towns were those who had money. These were guild masters--masters of the guilds of merchants and craft guild masters.

jueves, 17 de noviembre de 2016


When you write a text in English you must be careful. You have to express your ideas correctly and sequence the different actions/events. Here you can find a useful list. It can help you.


a) Introducción

b) Primer párrafo

At first sight                                      A primera vista
First of all                                          Antes que nada
In the first place                                En primer lugar
To start with                                      Para empezar

c) Segundo párrafo

In the second place,                          En segundo lugar,
Second,                                              Segundo,
Secondly,                                           En segundo lugar,
Third,                                                 Tercero,
Thirdly,                                              En tercer lugar,

d) Conclusión

Finally,                                               Por último,
In conclusion,                                    Para concluir,
Lastly,                                                Por último,


in other words,                                  en otras palabras,
in short,                                             en resumen,
that is (to say),                                   es decir,


actually                                              En realidad
as a matter of fact                             De hecho
in fact                                                De hecho
really                                                 En realidad / realmente

as far as I’m concerned                   por lo que a mí respecta
from my point of view                      desde mi punto de vista
I agree / disagree                            estoy de acuerdo / no estoy de acuerdo
in my opinion                                   en mi opinión
in my view                                        en mi opinión
I think (that)                                    Creo que
it is true that                                    es verdad que
personally                                        personalmente
to be honest,                                    para ser honesto
to tell the truth,                               a decir verdad


above all                                          sobre todo
at least                                             al menos
basically                                           básicamente, fundamentalmente
especially                                         especialmente
essentially                                        esencialmente, básicamente
in general                                         en general
Generally speaking,                         En general,
in particular                                      en particular
more or less                                     más o menos
on the whole                                     en general
to a certain extent                            hasta cierto punto


,and so on.                                       Etcétera / y demás
and so on and so forth                     etcétera, y así sucesivamente
for example,                                     por ejemplo,
for instance,                                     por ejemplo,
such as                                             tal(es) como


All in all,                                          En conjunto, resumiendo
In brief,                                            En resumen
In conclusion,                                  Para concluir
In short,                                           En resumen
On the whole,                                  En general
To sum up,                                      Para resumir


after that                                           después de eso
all of a sudden                                  de repente,
finally                                                finalmente
first of all                                          en primer lugar
in the end                                         al final
in the meantime,                              mientras tanto
meanwhile                                        mientras tanto
next                                                  luego
suddenly                                           de repente,
then                                                  entonces, después
while                                                 mientras