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see feudalismfeudalism
, form of political and social organization typical of Western Europe from the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire to the rise of the absolute monarchies. The term feudalism is derived from the Latin feodum,
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Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also feud or fee), in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, a payment in land or in money or in kind made by a suzerain to his vassal (seeVASSALAGE). The hereditary tenure of a fief was conditional upon the vassal’s fulfillment of feudal service to his lord; this service was primarily military but could also entail service at court, such as participation in trials or in the management of a seigniory, or involve the payment of a sum fixed by custom. The vassals, in turn, usually gave part of their lands or income to their own vassals, a practice known as subinfeudation; eventually, a hierarchy was established on a single landholding, which could support a vertical series of feudal tenants.

The fief, whose precursor was the benefice, was the characteristic form of property of the ruling class in Western Europe from the 11th to 15th century, the period of developed feudalism. From this period, however, the system based on the fief began to decline. The fiefs were broken up through subinfeudation and, as commodity-money relations became prevalent, so did the use of money-fiefs, the right to some type of revenue, granted to a vassal instead of land with serfs. In addition, the feudal lords began relying on paid troops for military support. By the 15th or 16th centuries, the system of fiefs had become a legal fiction.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


In feudal England, the tenure of land or an estate subject to the feudal obligation of service and homage to the lord of the estate.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


, feoff
(in feudal Europe) the property or fee granted to a vassal for his maintenance by his lord in return for service
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
"I had little hopes of finding anyone who could successfully run this office and bring the 21 fiefdoms into a coordinated system while managing the politics of our legislature and governor's office."
Many large companies suffer the ravages of fiefdoms, turf wars and bureaucracy.
"A shahenshah is the person who considers this country and the party as their fiefdom. And who other than Gandhi's can be called shahenshahs.
Ferguson was a fiefdom of the whites, where the colour of skin coloured local government and law enforcement.
Other nationalities, including Brits, are in the habit of getting out before dawn to drape towels over loungers to claim a family fiefdom close to the pool or bar area.
The MetroCentre millionaire told The Journal during this week's party conference that the North East was suffering the effects of more than a generation of poor leadership, adding that Labour was more interested in treating the region like a "fiefdom".
This of course means that firstly Mr Thomas doesn't have to dig too deep in his pockets, and secondly make young players serfs to his fiefdom. In addition, he expects us the Welsh rugby public to accept second best at Welsh internationals while our best players are denied access to the Welsh team.
Am I being unduly cynical in thinking there will be at least another couple of posts advertised in the near future, after all who will do his typing and driving him around his fiefdom? PS163, 947 equates to how many police officers, maybe not many, but certainly of more value to the average voter?
Meanwhile the BBC has reported that there was a strong internal grouping in the TTP's ranks, with Mullah Dadullah being one of strong contenders for his personal fiefdom of Pakistan chapter.
Historians say the Belgian monarch ran the state as his personal fiefdom between 1885 and 1908, exploiting its natural resources to enhance his wealth and overseeing a regime responsible for the death of up to 10 million Africans.
The frenzy of socialist fetishization began with Wolfgang Becker's popular film Good Bye Lenin!, which in the slippery style of big-budget ostalgie manages both to condemn Erich Honecker's barbarous fiefdom and to subtly celebrate its insulation from Western consumerism.