The feudal bond was a generalized bond

September 26, 2013

We note that this intense family-like and hierarchical relationship existed in varying degrees throughout all levels of medieval society—not just among feudal lords. In fact, any individual could be at once both servant and master. These multiple bonds actually set the standard for unifying society beyond mere family and clan-like ties.

Detail from Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry's October

French historian Marc Bloch affirms that the feudal bond actually permeated all medieval culture from “the highest to the humblest,” embracing all classes and groupings. Moreover, he claims that mention of this relationship whereby one man became the “man” of another is among the expressions “more widely used or more comprehensive” during the medieval period.(1) Likewise, historian Roland Mousnier confirms that bonds of fealty bound men together from top to bottom all the way to the French Revolution.(2)

Contrary to Hobbes’ “war of every man against every man,” it was a society full of associations linking every man to another man.


(1)   Marc Bloch, The Growth of Ties of Dependence, vol. 1 of Feudal Society, trans. L.A. Manyoa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 145.

(2) See Roland Mousnier, Society and State, vol. 1 of The Institutions of France under the Absolute Monarchy 1598-1789, trans. Brian Pearce (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 99.


John Horvat II, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need To Go (York, Penn.: York Press, 2013), 193.



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