Medieval Governments

The End of Feudalism and Rise
of Nation-States
The Decline of Feudalism
• After the Hundred Years’ war, both the English and the French
monarchies and their kings gained greater power and took
complete control of their governments.
• The Medieval Feudal system worked well for many hundreds
of years but the decline of feudalism occurred and was due to
a number of events which occurred.
• Feudalism was based on the division of land by the king to
nobles and vassals in return for their military service.
• Land was the main source of the economy and was
dependent on the peasants who worked on the land.
Reasons for the Decline of Feudalism:
1. Strong feelings of nationalism in both
countries facilitated the break from the
feudal system.
2. Allegiance shifted from local lords to the
3. This was the beginning of nations: People
were bound together by a common
government, language, culture and set of
Reasons for the Decline of Feudalism:
4. The Crusades and travel during the Middle
Ages opened new trade options to England
5. England started to move from land based
economy to a money based economy
6. The Black Death - reduced the population of
England by one third.
7. The Peasants Revolt - Peasants realized their
worth and demanded changes.
Reasons for the Decline of Feudalism:
8. Peasants moved away from the country into
towns they were eventually allowed to buy
their freedom
9. Land was rented and the rights of lords over
labor decreased
10. A centralized government was established
The Standing Armies
• The decline of feudalism came when rich nobles
were allowed to pay for soldiers rather than to fight
• Life changed and Mercenaries were hired from all
over Europe. The Mercenaries had few allegiances,
except to money, and these paid fighting men were
feared throughout Europe.
• The threat of the Mercenaries led on to the
employment of professional, trained soldiers - the
Standing Armies and ultimately the end of Middle
Ages feudalism in England.
The End of Feudalism in England
• Under feudalism the King was answerable to the
• At the end of the Middle Ages King Henry VIII clashed
with the Pope and England subsequently broke with
the Catholic church of Rome and the power of the
• This led to the establishment of the Church of
England and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
• It was the final 'nail in the coffin' of the Medieval
Feudal System, feudalism, in England.
Do in groups of three…. To be handed in:
Define the word monarchy. (check glossary)
Which family formed the first great monarchial dynasty in England? From whom were they descended?
Describe the function on the juries?
In 1086, what was recorded in the Doomsday Book? How was this information used?
Describe the changes and measures taken by Henry I to increase his power.
Describe the rebellion in 1215 against Prince John and explain the nature of the Magna Carta.
Parliament (in England)
Why did William the Conqueror start the Great Council? Who made up the council? How did the Magna
Carta change that function?
Define the word Parliament in the 13th century?
What was the “Model Parliament”?
Define the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Who founded a dynasty that would rule France for three hundred years despite powerful feudal lords?
How did the Capetians (Hugh Capet and his descendents) add to their rather small landholdings?
Describe Philip Augustus’s efficient royal bureaucracy (a group of individuals who governed departments)
which strengthened royal power and weakened that of feudal lords.
The Estates General (in France)
What was the Estates General and who formed it?
What 3 social classes made up the Estates General?
Why was the Estates General not as powerful as the English Parliament?
The Holy Roman Empire (Germany)
Why was it difficult to unite the 5 great duchies of medieval Germany?
Which king succeeded in uniting the duchies in 936?
Why did power struggles result between the emperor and pope?