Definition of feudalism
1 : the system of political organization prevailing in Europe from the 9th to about the 15th centuries having as its basis the relation of lord to vassal (see vassal 1) with all land held in fee (see fee 1) and as chief characteristics homage, the service of tenants under arms and in court, wardship (see wardship 1), and forfeiture (see forfeiture 1)
2 : any of various political or social systems similar to medieval feudalism
feudalistplay \ˈfyü-də-list\ noun
feudalisticplay \ˌfyü-də-ˈli-stik\ adjective
Recent Examples of feudalism from the Web
In the space of a year, the state had abolished feudalism and adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizen, a constitution intended to protect French citizens' equality, freedom of speech, and political representation.
Russia has been given many labels, from kleptocracy to Mafia state, but the most analytically helpful may be among the oldest: feudalism.
Putin’s Russia has been given many labels, from kleptocracy to Mafia state, but the most analytically helpful may be among the oldest: feudalism.
Mr. Thomas’s book portrayed the vast complexity of the Spanish Civil War, with its background of feudalism and religious fervor, but it was also seen as the chronicle of a noble but failed cause.
Fifteen hundred years later, the rules of Middle Ages’ feudalism were formal.
For miners, the system resembled something like feudalism.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'feudalism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
First Known Use of feudalism
FEUDALISM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of feudalism for English Language Learners
: a social system that existed in Europe during the Middle Ages in which people worked and fought for nobles who gave them protection and the use of land in return
FEUDALISM Defined for Kids
Definition of feudalism for Students
: a social system existing in medieval Europe in which people worked and fought for nobles who gave them protection and land in return
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up feudalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).