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Feudal Society, Volume 1

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  684 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
"Few have set themselves to the formidable task of reconstructing and analyzing a whole human environment; fewer still have succeeded. Bloch dared to do this and was successful; therein lies the enduring achievement of Feudal Society."—Charles Garside, Yale Review
Paperback, 287 pages
Published August 15th 1964 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1964)
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What I particularly enjoy about Bloch's study is the sense of feudal Europe as dynamic. Institutions are changing while different areas are developing in different ways and influencing each other. Waves of immigrant Magyars, Vikings and Muslims are sweeping, sailing and galloping in from the edges of the European land mass at the beginning of Bloch's story - this is a world in crisis, productivity is low, authority is weak, everything is vulnerable, nailed down or not.

Despite it's age it's still
I think that Marc Bloch is the historian that all current historians secretly (or not) wish that they could be. He writes beautifully, researches with a remarkable breadth, and conveys his ideas with thoughtfulness and clarity, weaving together little details into big tapestries. He also, to top it off, fought in the French Resistance. Even if you're not a historian, you probably want to be like Marc Bloch too, and just don't know it yet.

Feudal Society takes the scope of its name very seriously
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medieval-history
Feudal Society by Marc Bloch is one of the definitive guides to the study of feudalism during the medieval period. The book’s main focus is on feudalism in Western Europe, though it does mention other regions as well, however only briefly. If you are just beginning the study of feudalism, I would actually recommend investigating other titles that give a more general overview of the subject from a high-level. Bloch’s books, volumes I and II, discuss the subject on a granular level, a “down in the ...more
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Certainly an undeniable classic in the field of "history of the middle ages". As other reviewers have already noted, Bloch was one of the initial members of what grew to become the "annales" school of western history, though, to be fair, he died before you could call it a "school" or "movement".

Volume one of the two volume set looks at the growth of feudalism in western society, and by western I'm talking about Northern France, Western Germany, England and Northern Italy. Bloch's main concern i
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
One of those "ought to read" books for medievalists, though now perhaps more for its standing as the inspiration of much subsequent debate on feudalism than for its actual content. Some of Bloch's arguments have held up and have been used by later historians, but there's much here that's dated (his discussion of female lordship, for instance, or how he uses documentary evidence) or based on assumptions (Germanic kin structures, for instance). However, one still can't fault his main point that du ...more
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medieval-culture
Insightful and pleasant to read, Bloch's analysis of the development and maintenance of feudal structures and societies is one of the best I have read. Succinct but still rich in detail, highly recommended work from a premier medieval scholar.
Mihai Zodian
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
“Marc Bloch, La société féodale, Albin Michel, 1982, ediţie electronică, 513 p.

Societatea feudală demonstrează importanţa interpretării, a perspectivelor teoretice în cunoașterea socialului şi trecutului. După cum remarca prefaţatorul celei de-a doua ediţii americane, T.S. Brown, lucrarea a influenţat disciplinele umaniste, inclusiv ştiinţele politice, oferind o cale de a înţelege conexiunile dintre structuri, grupuri şi mentaţităţile unei epoci[2]. Din acest motiv, deşi veche de decinii şi des
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, classic, medieval
An insightful, revolutionary examination of medieval society, written by a predecessor of the Annales school of history. The Annalistes widened the traditional focus of historical scholarship from a simple focus on political and military events to a broader view of the wider aspects of social and economic environments that shape long-term developments within a society. Bloch's 1940 work is a seminal development in both the study of medieval history as well as the wider discipline itself.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A well-known milestone in medieval historiography and one of the easiest five stars I've ever given. To sum up, Bloch starts off with the internal breakdown of state power in early medieval Europe and the numerous external threats it faced, setting the stage for a society where power was increasingly local and based on personal bonds of allegiance - in other words a feudal society. He then proceeds to analyse in-depth the nitty-gritty workings of these personal bonds and how they shaped both the ...more
Jackson Cyril
A work of monumental erudition and breathtaking scope. A masterpiece in the truest sense of the word. We can only wonder what more he could have added had Bloch not been killed by the Nazis. (There is a touching story of an older Bloch-- tortured, battered and bloodied-- facing the Nazi shooting squad: "A kid of sixteen trembled not far from him. “This is going to hurt.” Marc Bloch affectionately took his hand and simply said, “No, my boy, it doesn’t hurt,” and fell first, crying out: “Vive La F ...more
Aug 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Read this for a medieval studies class. But my affection for Marc Bloch began in a high school history course in which my teacher kept bringing up Bloch's ideas of a historical continuum I think it was. Don't remember much of what Mr. Bloch taught on the rudiments of Feudal Society. Mostly I remember the bleak landscape of UMass Boston, and myself transposed into a future feudal society, this largely being the result of my lifelong addiction to apocalyptic fiction of the sci fi variety.
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bloch was and is a sort of a paradigm for scholars. When the Nazis invaded France he joined the French resistance in order to fight for his humanistic ideals; close to the end of the war he was caught by the Gestapo and executed. The Feudal Society was his last book.
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A detailed and interesting study of Medieval life and times, by a fine French historian.
finally, done right
Dec 20, 2014 marked it as not-really-abandoned
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, college
I've read this book many times, and its lucidity continues to amaze me. Only Bloch can push the complex events together so cleanly.
Apr 11, 2008 rated it liked it
This pretty much shows Marc Bloch at his most usual--a big generalist. There's nothing wrong with that, however. He helped get the ball rolling in the Annales School of History with that mindset.
Ellis Knox
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
One of my favorite books about the Middle Ages. I've read it twice, at least.
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Marc Léopold Benjamin Bloch (6 July 1886 in Lyon – 16 June 1944 in Saint-Didier-de-Formans) was a medieval historian, University Professor and French Army officer. Bloch was a founder of the Annales School, best known for his pioneering studies French Rural History and Feudal Society and his posthumously-published unfinished meditation on the writing of history, The Historian's Craft. He was captu ...more
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