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Difference Between Feudalism and Monarchy

Feudalism vs Monarchy

One of the most complex things brought about by civilization is the system of rule or government. While its aim is to bring order in a society, it is also one of the reasons for turmoil and disagreement between rulers and their subjects. This was widely evident during the medieval period when most if not all countries in the world observed the system of monarchy and feudalism.

Most people think that these two forms of government are one and the same because of the fact that both systems are ruled by monarchs or kings and queens. But upon closer examination of each system, there are some elements that reveal how they are different from each other.

Monarchy is a type of political system in which all power is handed down to one person who will become the supreme ruler of a state or kingdom. This individual holds the final say on all matters that involve the land and everyone who dwells on it. Feudalism, on the other hand, is primarily an economic system put in place by a monarch in order to efficiently manage the resources of the kingdom. The king appoints representatives who will act on his behalf to collect taxes and enforce his laws in a specified area. These individuals are often given the title of lords and usually come from noble clans.

But feudalism can also become a form of government inside a monarchy which is the reason why it is so confusing. In essence, feudal lords also hold the same powers as their ruler since they act on his behalf. In fact, this is often the cause of subjects rebelling against the king because feudal lords tend to abuse the power accorded to them. They steal tax money for themselves and force their subjects to pay more even without the king’s mandate.

In order to clarify things some more between feudalism and monarchy, it is important to remember how they can exist in relation with one another. Since a monarchy is based on a system with one individual having all the power to rule, it cannot exist inside feudalism. On the other hand, feudalism may or may not exist inside a monarchy. The decision is up to the king, and it is usually influenced by how far and wide his kingdom’s territory is.

Another important element where the two political systems differ in is the source of the leader’s powers. Feudal lords require recognition from a higher authority like the king or queen before they can take control over their assigned estate. Their power is not absolute as their judgment can still be overturned by the king himself.

In a monarchy, power is handed down from one king to his heir or successor. This ability is not subject to contest and may only be broken when the kingship is overthrown or usurped by another individual usually through war and rebellion. Decisions made by any ruler in a monarchy are final and are usually executed immediately.

Summary:

1.Systems of government were formed to keep order but are also the main reasons for anarchy.
2.Both feudalism and monarchy require a supreme ruler like a king or queen.
3.Monarchy is an exclusive form of political system while feudalism was born from an economic standpoint.
4.Feudalism can also be a political system.
5.A monarchy cannot exist inside feudalism while feudalism may or may not exist inside a monarchy depending on how the king sees things.
6.Feudal lords’ power comes from the king and is not absolute while monarchs possess the ability to pass power to heirs, and their decisions are not subject to scrutiny or contest.


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3 Comments

  1. Thank you!!

  2. Well it’s a bit more complicated then that.

    First off, monarchy is not limited to an absolute ruler who chooses his/her own successor. Some monarchies are limited, to a certain degree, by a constitution and/or some kind of legislature. These are called “Constitutional Monarchies” or “Limited Monarchies” and they had a different meaning then the regally powerless constitutional monarchies of today. Also, not all monarchies have their successor decided by the monarchs. Or course, this case is so historically rare that monarchy has been classified as almost solely hereditary. However, there exists the Elective monarchy, where the monarch is elected by some delegation of society at the death of the previous monarch. In history’s two most notable cases, the Roman Kingdom and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, this “delegation” is a parliament elected by the nobility.

    Though I do agree with you on feudalism. Feudal monarchy is but a variant of multiple forms of monarchy. As the rise of Absolutism proved, feudal hierarchy and manorial economy can be revised at any time by the monarch’s will, so long as he/she is powerful and willing enough to endure the consequences. Another difference between feudalism and monarchy, however, is that while monarchy is not limited to feudalism, feudalism is also not limited to monarchy. Much of the world was also ruled by theocracies and even republics, and they still had strong elements of feudalism that would influence their politics.

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