Feudal Society, Volume 1: The Growth and Ties of Dependence by Marc Bloch

By Marc Bloch

Author note: Foreword by way of T.S. Brown, Translated from the French via L.A. Manyon
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Feudal Society is the masterpiece of 1 of the best historians of the century. Marc Bloch's superb success was once to recreate the brilliant and intricate international of Western Europe from the 9th to the 13th centuries. For Bloch background used to be a residing organism, and to jot down of it used to be an unending technique of artistic evolution and of turning out to be realizing.

The writer treats feudalism as a vitalising strength in ecu society. He surveys the social and fiscal stipulations during which feudalism constructed; he sees the buildings of kinship which underlay the formal relationships of vassal and overlord. For Bloch those relationships are mutual up to coercive, the made of a deadly and unsure international. His insights into the lives of the the Aristocracy and the clergy and his deep realizing of the strategies at paintings in medieval Europe, are profound and remarkable.

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The earliest raids, limited to northern shores—the British Isles, the low-lying country bordering the great northern plain, the cliffs of Neustria—had been seasonal affairs carried out in fine weather by small bands of ‘Vikings’. 2 But that it stood for a pursuer of profitable and warlike ventures is not in doubt, and no more is the fact that the Viking bands were generally constituted, in disregard of family or national ties, expressly for the enterprise itself. Only the kings of Denmark, heads of a state with at least a rudimentary organization, were already, on their southern frontiers, attempting genuine conquests—though indeed without much success.

The speed of these vessels, 1 The ‘Northmen’ to whom records of Anglo-Saxon origin sometimes give prominence are—according to the usage even of the Scandinavian texts; Norwegians, as distinct from Danes stricto sensu. 16 THE NORTHMEN judging by the model constructed from the Gokstad find, was easily as much as ten knots. 1 For, to the Northmen, as to the Saracens, the waters were only a pathway to the plunder of the land. Although they did not disdain at times to learn from Christian renegades, they possessed a sort of intuitive river lore of their own, becoming so quickly familiar with the complexities of this means of travel that, as early as 830, a contingent had escorted the archbishop Ebbo from Rheims on his flight from his emperor.

The marauding expedition thus dealt with was destined to be the last. On the confines of Bavaria hostilities were henceforth limited to border warfare. Soon, in accordance with the Carolingian tradition, Otto reorganized the frontier commands. Two marches were created: one in the Alps, on the Mur; the other, further north, on the Enns. The latter, soon to acquire the name of the eastern command—Ostarrichi, from which Austria is derived— reached the forest of Vienna as early as the end of the tenth century, and the Leitha and Morava towards the middle of the eleventh.

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