How did Anglo-Saxon Feudalism before 1066 differ from Frankish Feudalism in England?

Sep 2013
896
Chattanooga, TN
#1
It seems like a lot of threads I have created have sparked interesting digressions. I created this thread due to another interesting digression on my thread "What was the situation in England before the Normans introduced Feudalism to England". When I created the thread "What was the situation in England before the Normans introduced Feudalism to England", I thought that there was no Feudalism in England before 1066. On the second post of the thread "What was the situation in England before the Normans introduced Feudalism to England", notgivenaway wrote the following: "Anglo-Saxon England was feudal. All the Normans did was introduce Frankish feudalism."

I am curious about how Anglo-Saxon Feudalism in England before 1066 differed from Frankish Feudalism in England after 1066. On post #24 of the thread "How did the Normans introduce Feudalism to England", sparky wrote that the old feudal arrangement was about free men protecting against external enemies. Sparky then wrote that the Duke of Normandy created a system of armed knights and retainers in fortified castles to protect against internal discontented quasi-slaves. When Sparky wrote about "the old feudal arrangement", I am guessing that Sparky was talking about Anglo-Saxon Feudalism in England before 1066. Do you agree with sparky? Is the primary difference between Anglo-Saxon Feudalism before 1066 and Frankish Feudalism in England that the purpose of Anglo-Saxon Feudalism was to protect against external enemies while the purpose of Frankish Feudalism was to protect against internal discontented quasi-slaves?

I know that the Norman nobles used cavalry in their feudalism, while the Anglo-Saxons nobles did not use cavalry in their feudal system. I'm hoping that someone can give me a difference between the two forms of feudalism other than cavalry.

How did Anglo-Saxon Feudalism in England before 1066 differ from Frankish Feudalism in England after 1066?
 
Last edited:
Jun 2015
5,723
UK
#2
There are many documents from English kings given grants of land to lords, retainers, thegns or ealdormen. The English system of writs and wills dates back to that time period.

If we picture a King of Wessex (Alfred the Great or Aethelwulf) or King of England (Athelstan, Eadred, Aethelred II, Edward the Confessor), then they had a Witan, who were the most senior nobles, and together they made policy and laws. The nobles would raise troops and pay taxes to the king, who in turn would let lands to thegns and ceorls. Thegns were minor nobles, who supported either an ealdorman (head of a county, like Wiltshire or Essex), or the king himself in exchange or land or rent. Ceorls were free tradespeople, who rented land from ealdorman, or were in service to a noble. They ranged from farmers, to coopers, bakers, butchers, tanners, etc.

Anglo-Saxons also held slaves, who were the property of ealdormen, thegns, or ceorls.
 
Jun 2015
5,723
UK
#3
I don't think that's what sparky was referring to, but I cannot speak for him or her.

It's more a matter of culture, and how things arose in different parts of Europe.

Anglo-Saxon feudalism was very similar to Norse feudalism, in there was a series of retainers to the kings, or to jarls, who in turn received land and paid taxes. A Norseman born and raised in a town/village had to swear fealty to the local lord, and pay whatever dues or fight in whichever war that came up. Most Norse who went Viking were retainers, or people who sought booty on the lord's request.

It's like how we say Edo Japan was feudal. It was essentially, with reciprocal rights and duties between the Shogun and the samurai. But then the exact nature of their obligations, and the titles and bonds were different. It's the same with Frankish, Norman, Anglo-Saxon or Norse feudalism. Some African kingdoms had a feudal-like structure like the Benin Kingdom or Asante Kingdom.

It seems feudalism emerged in medieval Europe from the late Roman period (Western Rome not Byzantine per se), due to scarcity of population from plagues, invasions, and conquests. So a local Roman lord would ensure that his slaves or craftspeople were bound to him, and they in turn would gain security from bandits or invading armies. Certainly classical Roman society was hierarchical, but not feudal in the later sense.



This is about the Norse, but the Anglo-Saxon system was pretty similar to this.



This was the Norman model, which again had the same ranks, but with Frankish labels.
 
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Sep 2013
896
Chattanooga, TN
#4
notgivenaway, I like the pictures you have provided of Norse Feudalism and Norman Feudalism. The only problem with the pictures is that they only show the hierarchy of different classes in each version of feudalism, not the services that each class provides and has to provide.


On your picture of the Norman model of Feudalism, why is the "Crown" separate from and below the King? I have always thought that the Crown and the King were the same thing. Furthermore, what service(s) did the Barons provide to the King in exchange for the land that the King gave them? What did the Barons provide to the Knights?

On your picture of the Norse model of feudalism, what did the Karls provide to the Jarls? What did the Jarls provide to the Karls?
 

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