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3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  30 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
"Professor Ganshof's book answers the prayer of every teacher and student of medieval history for a lucid, concise and authoritative exposition of feudal institutions. Its author is one of the leading authorities in western Europe on Feudalism and its translator a leading English expert on the early Middle Ages. Professor Ganshof avoided the task, attempted by Marc Bloch, ...more
Paperback, Third English Edition, 170 pages
Published December 1964 by Harper Torchbooks (first published 1944)
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Best contrasted with Bloch's Feudal Society Ganshof develops a narrow definition of Feudalism that is focused on the a type of legal relationship between people living between the Rhine and the Seine in and around the tenth century. Very detailed and very specific, it's a good starting point towards understanding the workings of Feudal states.
Elia Princess of Starfall
Jan 04, 2016 Elia Princess of Starfall rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of the Middle Ages
Recommended to Elia Princess of Starfall by: UCD

We all know about the archaic and old-fashioned concept of medieval feudalism, am I right?

With its wealthy and controlling monarchs, belligerent and deceitful nobles and its many, many overworked, underpaid and desperately poor peasants?
With its unbreakable code of obligation and servitude on behalf of the vassal; of protection and defence on behalf of the lord ?
Where land, rank and titles were the be all and end all of medieval life and were how one climbed up the social ladder?

Lets begin!

Lauren Albert
Feb 04, 2013 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it
I know there has been a lot of controversy over the idea and history of feudalism and that many might consider this dated. But it is still an excellent overview of the legal side of the concept--Ganshof limits his discussion to the higher levels of society (you don't see serfs here). He makes sure to define all the terms and to explain the use of alternate terms for the same ideas.

I found it interesting to imagine the audience the publisher foresaw. It is an inexpensive paperback. All of the Lat
Michelle Abramowitz
May 15, 2016 Michelle Abramowitz rated it liked it
This was a great, informative book, it was just so dry!

Read this if you want to learn about the origins of feudalism in 7th century France/Germany, the etymology of terms associated with feudalism, or the technicalities that arise from the form of government. Just don't expect this to be super engaging....
Nov 14, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a quick, accessible, and intelligent introduction to feudalism this is a good place to go. Ganshof's book is probably a little bit more circumscribed than most books on feudalism, as he only examines the legal/political relationship between lords and their vassals - no serfs or wider social implications here. But that's okay: you can't cover the whole of medieval feudalism in 150 pages, and what Ganshof does address he does so very clearly. It's the perfect place to go if y ...more
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François-Louis Ganshof, Belgian medievalist who specialised in the study of the Franks under the Carolingian monarchy.
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