Could the Feudal Bond Be Helpful to Us Today?

October 10, 2013

Notwithstanding its human shortcomings, [the feudal bond] is a flexible and creative bond inside a family-like relationship. It is a bond that permeated all society from top to bottom generating ties of friendship and mutual responsibility. It is a sacred bond founded upon roots of a religious unity. We find in it the balanced application of autonomy, authority, vital flux, solidarity, and subsidiarity so essential to an organic order. In this bond is found that human element missing from the modern economy of frenetic intemperance.

Painting by Joaquin Pallares Allustante

Painting by Joaquin Pallares Allustante

We might also judge this bond by its fruits. Europe arose from the ruins of antiquity and barbarian invasions with a spontaneously developed, highly decentralized, self-financed, social, military, and economic infrastructure born of a strong family-like bond and religious union that could adapt quickly amid chaos.

One might ask: Does our solution lie in the feudal bond? It would depend upon how these basic characteristics could be adapted to the present circumstances.

Covent Garden piazza and market in 1737, looking west towards St Paul's Church, painted by Balthazar Nebot.

Covent Garden piazza and market in 1737, looking west towards St Paul’s Church, painted by Balthazar Nebot.

We definitely are experiencing the same type of abrupt disintegration of our social fabric that calls for some kind of unifying relationship. We hear the complaint that our society is coming apart with a growing gap between those who succeed and those with less. And yet we have nothing similar to the feudal bond to bridge this gap and unite all in common cause to resolve our problems.


Likewise, if families were overwhelmed by the disintegration of their society in pre-feudal times, how much more are today’s isolated individualists vulnerable to being overwhelmed by the multiple crises of our times. In face of the social disintegration that threatens us, we might well look for a “feudal” solution to call us back to order.


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), 195-6.




Previous post:

Next post: