This is the assignment page for the topic "Feudalism and the Warrior Tradition" for J. B. Owens's sections of the lower-division undergraduate course, History 101, Foundation of Western Civilization. The sole purpose of this page and all of the pages linked to it is to provide an orientation for those students enrolled in History 101.

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Feudalism and the Warrior Tradition

ID: feudalism, fief/feudum, benefice, feudal lord, vassal, vassalage, "The Song of Roland", subinfeudation, liege lord

  1. Why did the Carolingian Empire fall apart after the death of Charlemagne?
  2. Why did feudalism and manorialism become increasingly characteristic European institutions in the 9th and 10th centuries? Be sure to make clear the purpose and nature of each institution.
  3. What was European feudalism in the early Middle Ages?
  4. Why did feudalism become such an important institution in the 9th and 10th centuries?
  5. Why was the fief such an important part of feudalism?
  6. Why was it often difficult for great feudal lords to maintain the loyalty of their vassals?
  7. Why in the 9th and 10th centuries did noble status become increasingly identified with being a warrior?
  8. Why did the creator of the "Song of Roland" have his hero refuse to call for help from the main royal army when the rear guard under his command was attacked by a Muslim force?
  9. Why did the creator of the "Song of Roland" have his hero express such great concern for how his actions would affect the reputation of his relatives?
  10. Why did King Henry I of England (died 1135) give so much attention to his relations with his barons in his coronation charter of 1100?
  11. Why did feudalism become such an important European institution between the 9th and 13th centuries?
  12. In what ways was the Germanic cultural environment important in the early development of Latin Christian Europe (to 1000 C.E.)?


Kishlansky, 163-167 ("Europe in the Ninth Century"), 167-169 ("After the Carolingians: From Empire to Lordships"), 175-177 ("The Aristocracy: Warriors and Heiresses"); Owens, chapter 4, "Feudalism"; The Song of Roland (print these extracts in order to have the text available when we discuss it in class).

The full text of The Song of Roland is available at the URL

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Revised: 9 May 2006