Unformatted text preview: Feudal System Feudalism is a political, economic, and social system which existed in Europe and Russia from the 9th to15th century in which the laborers or serfs where permanently bound to the land. In this system the king gave a land grant known as a fief to his Barons or Nobles in exchange for their loyalty and service. These Barons and Nobles now became vassals of the king. Upon receiving their land Barons would give it to various knights in exchange for military service and the Nobles would also divide it among lesser Nobles and so on. At the bottom of this chain is the serf. The serfs where essentially considered to be an extension of the land. When land was sold or traded between Nobles the serfs went with it. In this system everyone had their place The king and lords watched over all. The churchman prayed for all. The Barons and knights fought for all. The Serfs worked for all. In a typical manor the lord would keep about 1/3 of the land for himself called the lord's domain. He would then divide the remaining 2/3 among his serfs for their own living and farming needs. In exchange for the privilege of being able to work and live on the land these serfs owed their master service usually in the form of working in his fields or another type of labor. In addition to work they would also often pay a portion of their crops or revenue as taxes although money was rarely used. Free peasants usually converted to serfdom because of debt, for military protection, or lack of any other options. Serfdom was heritable meaning that if your father was a freeman and became a serf then you will also be a serf along with all of your descendants. The word serf can be traced back to the Latin word "servus" meaning slave. Serfs were bound to the land on which they lived but it did not belong to them. They were not free. They could not leave the manor without their master's permission. They even had to obtain permission to marry off of the manor. Serfs would usually live, work and die in the same place they were born. From a serf "...I work very hard. I go out at dawn, driving the oxen to the field, and I yoke them to the plough; however hard the winter I dare not stay at home for fear of my master, but having yoked the oxen and made the ploughshare ... fast to the plough, every day I have to plough a whole acre or more ... It is hard work because I am not a free man" Serfs were forbidden to hunt in the forest and their live stock was used to work the field so they were rarely able to enjoy the luxury of meat. Upon the death of a Nobel man his first born son took charge of his estate. This practice was called primogeniture. This process effectively sealed the fate of the serfs. Before the adoption of primogeniture the king would appoint anyone of his choosing to become lord of the manor. This process effectively locked everyone into the class in which they were born. Reflection Questions 1 How much control did serfs have over their own lives? What ways were they oppressed? How do you feel about feudalism as a form of government? Was it a necessary evil? How were the feudal societies of the past similar and different to capitalist societies of the modern era regarding a persons economic status? Why would a serf be willing to accept his position? Indian Caste System The caste system in India is a religious and social structure in which the people are divided into groups based off of their status. One's status within this system is dictated by the status of their parent as well as the jobs their allowed to hold, and the people whom they can associate themselves. It was introduced in India around 1500 B.C. when the "Aryans" from central Asia arrived and put the darker skinned natives into lower positions or castes. Brahmin priest and scholars Kshatriya warriors and rulers Vaishyas farmers and merchants Sudra peasants and laborers Untouchables absolute lowest branch of society only allowed the most "unclean" jobs. When the system was adopted there was not a concept of money. People would trade based of the skills and trades their class had to offer. A Vaishya might trade grain to a Brahmin so that he would bless his house, or a Sudra might work in a Vaishya's field in exchange for food. Hinduism's Affects In Hinduism they believe in an eternal circle of death and rebirth which eventually ends when a person reaches Nirvana or "Enlightenment". Upon death they believe they are reincarnated into another person. Who they are reborn as is determined by their darma (doing one's moral duty) and karma (good or bad force from a person's actions). Those with good karma are born into higher social orders in the next life. The system was initially based on societies needs but over time it became much more strict eventually denying education and basic freedoms to the lower classes. Those in the higher classes believe that those below them did something bad in their previous life and there for are deserving of poor treatment. People within the lower castes accept their position because they believe they will be able to elevate themselves in the next life. Untouchables Also known as "Dalit" are allowed only to perform jobs considered unclean for example skinning animals, cleaning toilets, and preparing the dead for funerals. They are believed to have done such bad things in their previous life that members of the other groups will not come close to them for fear of becoming tainted. Not only should they be avoided they should be punished for their past evils. "One night, while Maurya was away in a nearby city, eight men from the higher Rajput caste came to his farm. They broke his fences, stole his tractor, beat his wife and daughter, and burned down his house. The message was clear: Stay at the bottom where you belong." from National Geographic "The sins of Girdharilal Maurya are many, his attackers insisted. He has bad karma. Why else would he, like his ancestors, be born an Untouchable, if not to pay for his past lives? Look, he is a leatherworker, and Hindu law says that working with animal skins makes him unclean, someone to avoid and revile. And his unseemly prosperity is a sin. Who does this Untouchable think he is, buying a small plot of land outside the village? Then he dared speak up, to the police and other authorities, demanding to use the new village well. He got what Untouchables deserve." Untouchability was outlawed in the 1950's but its social roots run deep. In the cities the Caste System is no longer practiced as strictly as in the past, but with 70% of India's population living in rural areas it still has along way to go. Today there are roughly 160 million untouchables in India. Reflection Questions 2 How might Hinduism influence and encourage the use of the caste system? How might the serfs of feudal Europe have compared to the Sudra (laborers) of Indian caste system. How is India's Caste System similar to the feudal system? How is it different? Armenian Genocide Who are the Armenians The Armenians were Christian minority in the Ottoman Empire, a country with a large Muslim majority. For the most part they were treated as second class citizens subject to discriminatory laws and forced to pay certain taxes for being NonMuslim. Back Ground Information From 18761908 the Ottoman Government was headed by Sultan Abdul Hamid who had absolute control over the country. In the late 19th Century the Ottoman Empire was in decline and many Armenians sought to use this as a opportunity to gain basic freedoms and rights for themselves. Under Sultan Abdul Hamid as series of massacres were carried out from 1894 to 1897 to put down the small Armenian uprisings. By the time it was over roughly 300,000 Armenians were killed. Revolution of 1908 In 1908 a group known as the Young Turks over through Sultan Abdul Hamid and his government. This new group closely identified itself politically with Germany and when WWI started in 1914 they became a member of the Triple Alliance with Austria Hungry being the third member. The earlier uprising of the Armenians in 1894 made many in the Ottoman Government fearful that they may rise up and side with Russia. In April of 1915 using war and national security as their rational supported with large amounts of propaganda the Ottoman Military relocated and killed large numbers of Armenian civilians. During the relocations they were not given food, or water, and many died from pure exhaustion. Special units were organized by the government to attack the Armenian convoys while they were relocating from place to place. Their weapon of choice was the sword. Relocation As a precursor to the deportation of the civilian population many Armenian soldiers had been disarmed and either forced to work to death or they were outright executed. With most of the able bodied men out of the way the relocations met very little resistance. Reflection Questions 3 Why do you think the Armenian Genocide occurred? Why do you think the general population allowed this to happen? Compare the different forms or racism and persecution discussed. What are some of the factors that motivate and encourage this kind of behavior? The Holocaust The Holocaust was the systematic destruction of the Jewish population by the Nazi party during WWII. January 30, 1933 Hitler became chancellor of Germany. Hitler wanted to make the European Continent into a single political and economic system for his pure "Aryan Race". AntiSemitism had very deep roots in German culture without which the holocaust never would have been possible. Hitler identified the Jews not as a religion but as a race. A person of a certain religion can convert, but a person of a certain race can only be eliminated. Jews were considered to be subhuman. Jewish persecution began with early restrictive legislation, and economic boycotts One of these laws stated that any Jew over the age of 15 must carry and identification card at all time. They could not work as doctors, writers, law and other professions. Using his new power a chancellor he was able to spread large amounts of antisemantic propaganda to encourage support for his programs. By the time the War was over it is estimated that 1.5 million Armenians had died as a result. To this day Turkey still denies that this was a planned Genocide. When Hitler sent his generals to run the death camps he said, "Go kill without mercy... who today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?" Reflecting upon when he first arrived at Aushwtiz, Elie Wiesel stated, "A German Officer gave the order: `Men to the left! Women to the right! Eight words spoken quietly indifferently, without emotion... I walked on with my father and the other men. And I did not know that in that place, at that moment , I was parting from my mother and (sister) Tzipora forever." ...
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- Spring '07
- Feudalism, Caste system in India, sultan abdul hamid