Was feudalism & manorialism practiced outside of Medieval Europe?

Oct 2017
339
America ??
Marxist economic historians believe in historical periodization that all history follows a similar pattern based on the economic system of societies. Ancient societies have a slave economy, replaced by feudal societies with an economy based on landlords and peasants, replaced by modern societies with an economy based on industrialization and capitalism. The final stage of history according to Karl Marx is communism. Not that I agree with this theory but it explains the categories westerners tend to use when describing all parts of history.
I haven’t studied economics & Marxism yet, but here’s my thought.

Yes all societies & parts of the world had various forms of slavery in the past, but my observation is that having a slave economy doesn’t necessarially coincide with historical era but more to do with the particular economic situations & cultures of societies at particular times.

The general trend should instead be that all societies start of, well in the very beginning hunter gatherer, then once agriculture is introduced to them, agricultural peasant feudal economy, & then move to mercantilism & capitalism depending on circumstances. My observation is that most to all societies were agricultural peasant feudal based until the advent of the industrial revolution & enlightenment.

Did I get that right?
 
Nov 2019
15
New Jersey, USA
I haven’t studied economics & Marxism yet, but here’s my thought.

Yes all societies & parts of the world had various forms of slavery in the past, but my observation is that having a slave economy doesn’t necessarially coincide with historical era but more to do with the particular economic situations & cultures of societies at particular times.

The general trend should instead be that all societies start of, well in the very beginning hunter gatherer, then once agriculture is introduced to them, agricultural peasant feudal economy, & then move to mercantilism & capitalism depending on circumstances. My observation is that most to all societies were agricultural peasant feudal based until the advent of the industrial revolution & enlightenment.

Did I get that right?
In my opinion, categorizing all of history in these categories is ridiculous, to begin with. For example, the Eastern Zhou dynasty of China is labeled as feudal (771 BCE - 221 BCE). However, the economic and political system was different than that of feudal Europe. Instead, I believe history should be referred to simply with the original name of the period without mixing in this western notion of economic progression. For example, instead of saying, the feudal period of Japan, focus more specifically on the Sengoku period, or the Kamakura period. When discussing Chinese history instead of referring to it as the feudal period of Chinese history, simply discuss it based on dynasties or the original name of the periods. For example, instead of the feudal period of China, more specifically you can say the Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring States period, Spring and Autumn period. Chinese historians most likely did not categorize their history based on ancient, feudal, and modern until perhaps very recently. In Korea, the historical periodization of Korean history occurred during the Japanese colonization. When the Japanese wrote about Korean history, they formed a stagnation theory, that Korea was stuck in the ancient slave economy and Japan's colonization was necessary for Korea to modernize. This theory was challenged by Korean historians such as Marxist economic historian Paek Namun and nationalist historian Sin Ch'aeho. The historical periodization of Korean history was due to nationalism, modernization, and western influences. In my opinion, it makes more logical sense to categorize Korean history based on the dynasties, original period names, or different forms of government. It is a challenging topic and I am sure some of you would disagree with me. I just feel that this periodization of history is a Western concept, and when discussing other parts of history we should conform to different periodization methods. For example, when referring to the Chinese schools of thought commonly known by the Chinese as the Hundred Schools of Thought, many westerners refer to it simply as philosophy, another western concept. In my opinion, philosophy should be used to categorize western ways of thinking rather than mixing it with the Chinese Hundred Schools of Thought which had their own origin and a different impact on history.
 
Nov 2013
724
Texas
In my opinion, categorizing all of history in these categories is ridiculous, to begin with. For example, the Eastern Zhou dynasty of China is labeled as feudal (771 BCE - 221 BCE). However, the economic and political system was different than that of feudal Europe. Instead, I believe history should be referred to simply with the original name of the period without mixing in this western notion of economic progression. For example, instead of saying, the feudal period of Japan, focus more specifically on the Sengoku period, or the Kamakura period. When discussing Chinese history instead of referring to it as the feudal period of Chinese history, simply discuss it based on dynasties or the original name of the periods. For example, instead of the feudal period of China, more specifically you can say the Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring States period, Spring and Autumn period. Chinese historians most likely did not categorize their history based on ancient, feudal, and modern until perhaps very recently. In Korea, the historical periodization of Korean history occurred during the Japanese colonization. When the Japanese wrote about Korean history, they formed a stagnation theory, that Korea was stuck in the ancient slave economy and Japan's colonization was necessary for Korea to modernize. This theory was challenged by Korean historians such as Marxist economic historian Paek Namun and nationalist historian Sin Ch'aeho. The historical periodization of Korean history was due to nationalism, modernization, and western influences. In my opinion, it makes more logical sense to categorize Korean history based on the dynasties, original period names, or different forms of government. It is a challenging topic and I am sure some of you would disagree with me. I just feel that this periodization of history is a Western concept, and when discussing other parts of history we should conform to different periodization methods. For example, when referring to the Chinese schools of thought commonly known by the Chinese as the Hundred Schools of Thought, many westerners refer to it simply as philosophy, another western concept. In my opinion, philosophy should be used to categorize western ways of thinking rather than mixing it with the Chinese Hundred Schools of Thought which had their own origin and a different impact on history.
I agree. Edo Japan had several characteristics of a society that was not akin the feudal western Europe (larger country, great cities, a standard of public health, centralisation) that would make it rather disanalagous to the feudalism of medieval western Europe.
 
Oct 2017
339
America ??
^ @ The Ham23.

I do agree that categorizing all of history into distinct prehistory, ancient, medieval & modern periods is Euro or Western centric.

I also feel that it is quite time centric, considering that the terms ‘modern’ & contemporary themselves refer to what’s relatively immediate or nearby, but time always moves forward. It’s curious to speculate how future generations & historians will deal with our current categorizations. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Middle Ages or medieval period loses its notion of being distinct & later renamed as being an extension of Ancient History, perhaps late Ancient, which it kind of is.

But I don’t think I’m wrong in my claim that history & societies were largely agricultural-peasant-feudal based until the 18th-19th centuries industrial revolution & that having a slave economy isn’t to historical periods but more to do with economic situations. Were societies prior to the industrial revolution all feudal like in nature even if not exactly like that if medieval Europe, in the sense of mutual obligations across all levels of societies, like from peasants & artisans to nobles to lords etc?
 
Last edited:
Nov 2019
15
New Jersey, USA
The relation between class structures is different in each society. Some societies have a rigid structure, others are more fluid. Feudal should be used specifically to define a form of European society prior to the industrial revolution. In areas outside of Europe, vassals did not have vassals such as dukes, earls, and barons. Different parts of the world had unique systems of governing. Categorizing it all as feudal in my opinion neglects the uniqueness in history and attempts to simplify everything into a western idea.
 
Oct 2017
339
America ??
^ I always thought most to all pre-industrial or pre-modern (mid-millennium) societies were basically feudal in nature, with variations you point out of course. Any society which has formal fixed classes & obligations between them is considered basically feudal isn’t it?
 
Nov 2019
15
New Jersey, USA
Feudalism was initially used to describe society in Europe. It has been expanded by westerners to try to understand and simplify history outside of Europe. In my opinion, it is best to only use it when describing European societies. feudalism | Definition & History This article might help you better understand what I am saying.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,967
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
^ @ The Ham23.

I do agree that categorizing all of history into distinct prehistory, ancient, medieval & modern periods is Euro or Western centric.

I also feel that it is quite time centric, considering that the terms ‘modern’ & contemporary themselves refer to what’s relatively immediate or nearby, but time always moves forward. It’s curious to speculate how future generations & historians will deal with our current categorizations. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Middle Ages or medieval period loses its notion of being distinct & later renamed as being an extension of Ancient History, perhaps late Ancient, which it kind of is.

But I don’t think I’m wrong in my claim that history & societies were largely agricultural-peasant-feudal based until the 18th-19th centuries industrial revolution & that having a slave economy isn’t to historical periods but more to do with economic situations. Were societies prior to the industrial revolution all feudal like in nature even if not exactly like that if medieval Europe, in the sense of mutual obligations across all levels of societies, like from peasants & artisans to nobles to lords etc?
As I remember, in the future society in Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel the 20th century was considered part of the Middle Ages.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Millennium