The Development of Feudalism in Western Europe 2.2 The Roman Empire had lots of soldiers and a strong army. That made life in the Empire easy and safe for most people. When the Empire fell, life in Europe was dangerous and hard. People worked hard just to get enough to eat. There were also lots of invaders who wanted to take over their lands. 2.3 People needed someone stronger to protect them. They needed land to grow food. They needed lords. Lords were rich men who had land that the king gave them. They had soldiers to protect their land and the people who lived there. This system was called feudalism. The king was at the top of the social pyramid. Lords and ladies were below the king. Knights were below the lords and ladies. Peasants were at the bottom of the pyramid. Lords got their land from the king. The king owned all the land in the kingdom. He was at the top of the social pyramid. Lords rented land from the king. All the land in the kingdom still belonged to the king, but he let the lords use it. Lords lived in big houses called manor houses. To pay for the land, the lords trained soldiers that for king to use. The lords trained soldiers and grew food on the land. Women who lived in manor houses were called ladies. Ladies were in charge of running the household: training servants and knights. People who worked on the land were called peasants. They were farmers. They gave a lot of the food they grew to the lord. This was their rent. They kept some of the food for their families. They were poor. They were at the bottom of the social pyramid. They lived in small houses that only had one room. They shared their room with their animals! Some peasants were called serfs. Serfs were a special kind of peasant who were not free to leav the lord’s land. The soldiers were called knights. They were in the middle of the social pyramid. They protected the lord and the king. When they protected the lord’s land, that helped the peasants. They lived on the land. The knights helped keep them safe. Knights were not poor. They had to pay a lot for their armor. They had to pay a lot for their horses. It took a long time to become a knight. Boys started learning the ways of knights at the age of 7. They ere called pages. Pages left their families and went to live at a lord’s manor. They learned to ride horses, serve food, sing, and play music. When pages were 14, they became squires. Squires helped their knight in battle. They helped him put on his armor and carried his sword and shield. If a squire was deserving, he became a knight when he was about 20. The code of chivalry was the rules knights lived by. It included being loyal to the church and to their lord. It also included being fair, even to enemies. It also included being respectful to women.
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