GUIDED READING Feudalism in Europe

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wh10a-IDR-0313_P2 11/24/2003 4:05 PM Page 67
Feudalism in Europe
Section 2
A. Summarizing Written Texts As you read about the development of feudalism in
Europe, fill out the charts by writing notes in the appropriate spaces.
Social Structure of Feudalism
1. Explain the mutual obligations
of the feudal system.
2. Explain why the feudal system
often resulted in complicated
3. Describe feudal social classes.
Economic Structure of Feudalism
© McDougal Littell Inc. All rights reserved.
4. Explain the mutual obligations
between lord and serfs under
the manor system.
5. Explain why the serfs rarely
had to leave their manor.
6. Explain why the serfs accepted
their economic hardships.
B. Perceiving Relationships On the back of this paper, define vassal, fief, serf,
manor, and tithe and explain how each was related to feudalism.
European Middle Ages 67
wh10a-IDR-0313_P9 11/24/2003 4:06 PM Page 74
Section 2
The Duties of Lords and Vassals
Letter from Bishop Fulbert
In the year 1020, Bishop Fulbert of Chartres wrote this letter to William, Duke of
Aquitaine, in southern France. The letter is the earliest surviving document
explaining the bond between lords and vassals. As you read, think about how
lords and vassals were supposed to act toward one another.
o William, most illustrious duke of the
Aquitanians, Bishop Fulbert, the favor of his
Requested to write something regarding the
character of fealty, I have set down briefly for you,
on the authority of the books, the following things.
He who takes the oath of fealty [faithfulness] to his
lord ought always to keep in mind these six things:
what is harmless, safe, honorable, useful, easy, and
practicable. Harmless, which means that he ought
not to injure his lord in his body; safe, that he
should not injure him by betraying his confidence
or the defenses upon which he depends for security; honorable, that he should not injure him in his
justice, or in other matters that relate to his honor;
useful, that he should not injure him in his property; easy, that he should not make difficult that
which his lord can do easily; and practicable, that
he should not make impossible for the lord that
which is possible.
However, while it is proper that the faithful vassal avoid these injuries, it is not for doing this alone
that he deserves his holding: for it is not enough to
refrain from wrongdoing, unless that which is good
is done also. It remains, therefore, that in the same
six things referred to above he should faithfully
advise and aid his lord, if he wishes to be regarded
as worthy of his benefice and to be safe concerning
the fealty which he has sworn.
74 Unit 3, Chapter 13
The lord also ought to act toward his faithful
vassal in the same manner in all these things. And
if he fails to do this, he will be rightfully regarded
as guilty of bad faith, just as the former, if he
should be found shirking, or willing to shirk, his
obligations would be perfidious [treacherous] and
I should have written to you at greater length
had I not been busy with many other matters,
including the rebuilding of our city and church,
which were recently completely destroyed by a terrible fire. Though for a time we could not think of
anything but this disaster, yet now, by the hope of
God’s comfort, and of yours also, we breathe more
freely again.
from F.A. Ogg, ed., A Source Book of Medieval History
(New York: American Book Company, 1907), 220–221.
Reprinted in David Herlihy, ed., The History of Feudalism
(New York: Walker and Company, 1970), 97.
Discussion Questions
Determining Main Ideas
1. What were the six things that a faithful vassal
should have always kept in mind?
2. What was a vassal expected to do besides avoid
injurious behavior?
3. Making Inferences According to this letter,
what formed the basis of the bond between a
lord and his vassals?
© McDougal Littell Inc. All rights reserved.
wh10a-IDR-0313_P17 11/24/2003 4:06 PM Page 82
Section 2
Leif Ericson
Leif the Lucky
“[He was] tall and strong and very impressive in appearance. He was a shrewd
man and always moderate in behavior.”—description of Leif Ericson in The Saga
of the Greenlanders (c. 1200)
ccording to legend, Leif Ericson discovered
America 500 years before Columbus and
brought Christianity to the Vikings in Greenland.
Modern historians say neither idea is true, though
one of the legends has a germ of truth.
Leif Ericson was one of three sons of Eric the
Red, who apparently had a violent temper. Eric was
forced to leave his native Norway because he had
committed some murders. He moved to Iceland,
but again had to leave after he killed two men. After
settling in yet another area of Iceland, he killed
another man in another argument. This time his
neighbors forced him to leave the island.
Having heard tales of a region to the west of
Iceland, Eric sailed in that direction. He and his
family reached Greenland in 982. The climate there
was warmer than today and better than Iceland’s.
He found he could graze cattle year-round. The
next year he returned to Iceland and told many
Vikings of the virtues of this new area. Eric convinced the other Vikings, and they returned to
Greenland where they formed three settlements.
One source of history about the Vikings is the
sagas, or epic poems. In Eric’s Saga, Leif sailed back
from Greenland to Norway to meet King Olaf, a
Christian. The saga then says that the king charged
Leif with the task of converting the Vikings in
Greenland. Leif accepted the challenge, but as he
sailed for his father’s home a fierce wind blew him off
course. He was pushed across the Atlantic Ocean
until he reached a rich land farther west. When a
member of his crew found grapes growing in this
beautiful land, Leif “the Lucky,” as he was called,
named his discovery Vinland, or Wine Land. He then
returned to Greenland, told everyone of his discovery, and converted most of the Vikings to Christianity.
This legend includes some truth and much exaggeration. Leif was probably not the Viking who discovered North America, though he did sail there.
He was also probably not the person who converted
the Vikings to Christianity, though he may have
been a Christian. The Saga of the Greenlanders,
which is about 200 years older than Eric’s Saga,
82 Unit 3, Chapter 13
gives what appears to be a more accurate story.
Around 1000, a Viking named Bjarni Herjolfsson
was blown off course while sailing to Greenland. The
wind took his ship farther west, and he reached
North America. When he returned to Greenland,
his description of the pleasant land apparently
caught the imagination of Leif.
Leif set off for this new place. He and his crew
sailed down the coast of Greenland and turned
west. They reached what may have been modern
Baffin Island and turned south. They then sailed
along the eastern fringes of what is now northern
Canada until they finally touched ground at
Newfoundland. Leif and his crew spent the winter
there and returned to Greenland the next year.
Other Vikings later made efforts to settle the
area. Leif’s brother Thorvald sailed to the new
place, but he was killed by a Native American.
Another Viking, Thorfinn Karlsefni, tried to establish
a colony in the new region. However, it lasted about
three years until the hostility of the natives forced
the Vikings to leave. Leif spent the remainder of
his life in Greenland, where he died about 1020.
In the 1960s, archaeologists discovered the
remains of a Viking community at a place called
L’Anse-aux-Meadows in Newfoundland. In an
attempt to try to establish the truth behind the stories of Leif, a Norwegian explorer began an investigation. He found that the foundations of a number
of the buildings in Newfoundland greatly resembled Viking buildings in Greenland and Iceland.
Nevertheless, the mystery of Leif Ericson continues.
1. Determining Main Ideas What made
Greenland attractive to the Vikings?
2. Developing Historical Perspective Which
version of the story of Leif Ericson is more accurate than the other? Explain.
3. Drawing Conclusions What physical evidence
supports the saga’s story of the Vikings in North
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wh10a-IDR-0313_P21 11/24/2003 4:06 PM Page 86
Feudalism in Europe
Section 2
Determining Main Ideas The following questions deal with the emergence of
feudalism in Europe. Answer them in the space provided.
1. What was the main reason why feudalism developed in Europe?
2. What were the main ideas behind feudalism?
Reading Comprehension Find the name or term in the second column that best
matches the description in the first column. Then write the letter of your answer in
the blank.
____ 4. a church tax paid to the village priest
____ 5. a landowner who granted land in exchange for military
protection and other services
a. lord
b. fief
c. manor
d. tithe
____ 6. mounted horsemen who pledged to defend their lords’
lands in exchange for their own land
e. vassal
____ 7. land granted by a landowner
f. Vikings
____ 8. a lord’s estate
g. serfs
____ 9. the person receiving land from a landowner
____ 10. a Germanic people sometimes referred to as Northmen
or Norsemen
86 Unit 3, Chapter 12
h. knights
© McDougal Littell Inc. All rights reserved.
____ 3. people who were bound to the land of a lord and who
could not lawfully leave the place where they were born

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