- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 31 May 2023
Feudal, feudalism or the feudal sytem relates to a society organised largely by the control of land and land-use according to a set social levels, classes or ranks. It was the primary social system of western Europe during the Middle Ages and continues to be one of the systems of land management in countries such as England, through certain leasehold tenure mechanisms and ownership under the crown. Although effectively a simple pyramid system it was relatively complex in its various mechanisms, with a variety of defined feudal duties. It only became more complex through the passage of history as it changed, developed, adapted and different aspects were abolished.
 Early History
Feudal, derives from the Medieval Latin feudalis or feudum, meaning pertaining to feuds, which were estates of land granted for use by a superior (person or body) on the condition of services to be rendered the grantor, in the Middle ages these being food, work or even support in battle. It was William the Conqueror in the 1100's who introduced a new feudal system when he stripped his opponents of ther land and declared himself to be the sole allodial owner of his realm. Allodial meaning the freeholder, or the most superior holder of land where there are no further higher ranks, lords or holders. As such all common exchanges and sales of land were restricted and all landholding was only possible with a Lord, who had to then be in receipt of a service in exchange for use of the land. in the 1200's it was established that tenure could be passed from one generation or nominee to the next, with a feudal relief tax.
Feudal contracts could then (as well as theoretically now) only be signed by members of the upper classes, this may have mean that lower Lords received land or estates (fief) from higher Lords on a promise of certain specified services (feudal duties) in return, in the same way the lowest tenant would service the level above them. Examples of feudal duties included; fees paid to a lord, on a tennants marriage (Amober), concession of a fief to younger sons (Appanage), tenure in return for a specified duties (Serjeanty), provision of guards and so on. Many feudal duties involved payments to the Lords such as chiefage, feudal aid, taille, tallage and socage.
In 1660 the Tenures Abolition Act declared that all land was to be held by socage tenure, which ended the obligations relating to other service based feudal duties of tenure. Socage was tenure in return for a specified duty which was usually money and is what eventually became the basis of what we now know to as freehold tenure, referred to then as 'free and common socage'. In this system not only was land held in exchange for clearly defined, fixed regular payments but the lord was also obligated to provide certain services, such as protection.
In theory, in England and Wales land is still held under the Crown which is ultimately the highest class or the feudal superior. The Crown historically would grant land use in return for services, the grantees may then in turn make sub-grants for further services and so on. This system of land control by class is the basis of the feudal system. England and Wales are some of the only countries in the world that continue to adhere to a feudal system style of tenure. In Scotland much of the feudal system was neutered through the ending of payments (or feuduties) in 1974, it was then completely dismantled as a system in the country by the Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000.
 Other countries
There are some countries such as the USA and Australia where a small number of land and property continue under feudal rights but in France for example the all properties are sold as freehold. However other mechanisms such as leaseback exist where a property owned freehold, is leased back to tenant for a defined period of time.
Featured articles and news
The last few days, but action needed over the next decade.
80 construction leaders and companies from across the UK.
Promoting the importance of building and fire safety.
A brief run through essential training tips from a user.
A comprehensive guide from a Cohesive BIM wiki user.
From the basics to the future from our Cohesive BIM wiki.
As electrical sector feels skills shortage bite.
CIOB Academy’s course take-up inked to external factors.
Q and A with self-representing artist, Hannah Shergold.
And publishes three-year strategic plan.
Introducing changes to make it more effective from 2024.
Shortlist announced for 2023 public choice award vote.
The last of the Victorians. Book review.
An exotic name that is shrouded in mystery.
From practice to research and the business of materials.