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The feudal system was a system of allegiances and responsibilities. It is an idealized system that functioned incompletely during the middle ages.

In its simplest form it consisted of three elements:

  • Suzerains: Owners of land, a lord
  • Vassals: Workers of the land whose use was granted to them by a lord.
  • Fief: The land owned by the suzerain and granted to the vassal.

The suzerain was responsible for maintaining the fief and defending both the fief and the vassal from harm.

The vassal was responsible for working the land and reaping the benefits of the land. He was also obligated to provide military service to the lord when needed which varied on the amount of land granted to him and also to pay fief-rent to the lord. At other times he may also be expected to provide counsel in important decisions if requested.

The term and the extent that this system existed and how it functioned is currently under debate.