When we begin discussing the type of governments in the old times, particularly the medieval age, we come to realize that most the countries were following the rule of a king or a queen. The reign of a king or a queen is known as the monarchy. Can you think of a country that follows this form of government? United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Japan are the common countries that follow the monarch as their representative. However the king or the queen could not always rule such a huge population, they needed their subordinates to take care of a particular area appointed to them.
In Britain, such powers were exercised by the Lords, if you have watched some of the medieval dramas you would know that the lord is some real hyped people in the old days. Perhaps even today the title lord holds so much respect and authority. They were people who owned huge manors and estates and under them fell a designated land for which they cared for and collected the revenues, which were either collected in cash or kind. The Lords pledged their oath to the service of the crown and often assisted the crown with whatever he or she may have required.
In India, we know much about the government under the Mughals and the Rajputs and the Delhi Sultanate. In their form of administration, we learn that the king had his own council of ministers like our prime minister and he works on their advice. The kings ruled almost all of Bharatvarsh which was a considerable land to take care of this they were divided into smaller provisions where a subedar of the chief of that land could collect the reviews or bring their complaints to the king himself.
Monarchy is the earliest form of government found by the researchers and historians who believe that once the civilizations came into force there was an immediate need for a government. Needless to say, the strongest and the most powerful person in the civilization was the monarch of that society. All powers were said to be in his hands and he exercises those according to his will. Not much different from dictatorship but at the same time, there is a difference in law. The monarch ascends the throne because he is lawfully blessed by the people and the government, but a dictator ascends to power through a coup or a rebellion. It is a form of hereditary government which entails that after the demise of the ruling monarch, their children were meant to be crowned as the new king or the new queen.
As time passed on, the monarchs realized that taking care of the entire kingdom on their own was a very hefty task. Thus they believed that it was necessary to make some changes to the monarchy. As understood, they were not ready to give up the throne, nor were they ready to divide their own powers with the others. This eventually gave rise to feudalism. It was a system which also gave rise to slavery. There were not many means of earning during those days thus the people would often labour themselves in exchange for some money. They would work in the fields of the lords. The classics describe feudalism as a set of legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around Lords, Vassals and Fiefs. The lords were the rich men or nobles who were in charge of the lands. Vassals were the trusted men of the lords among whom the land was divided. And the fief was the land itself.
To understand this in a clearer way, let us take the example of the United States of America. It is the congregation of fifty states and is a system of federalism. However, in retrospect, the central government of America is the monarch and the federal fifty states are the lords which are further divided into smaller divisions. It is to note that the United States of America are not a feudal state, there are federal. There is a huge difference between the two. The example was just taken for reference.
Difference Between Monarchy and Feudalism in Tabular Form
|Feudalism is a form of government based upon the ranks where the nobility owned the lands from the crown in exchange for military services.
|A form of government which is led by a king or a queen, who is the head of the state is known as the monarchy.
|It is an English and Latin originated word. ‘Feudalis’ from Latin and ‘fee’ from English, was originated in the 16th century AD.
|Monarchy is a French and Greek origin word. ‘Monarkhia’, the Greek word which gave the term monarchy a meaning in the 12th century AD.
|Welfare state, communism and capitalism all share similarities with feudalism.
|Diarchy, emirate, absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy and elective monarchy are all somehow similar to a monarchy.
|It is a socio-economic system.
|Just the superiority of the monarch.
|Quick decisions, efficient security, affordable taxes.
|Simple law-making process, faster process of the system, string military.
|Inequality, slavery, closed society, class difference.
|An incapable monarch can ruin the whole foundation, dependency, change is difficult and prone to rebellions.
|France, Portugal, and Tibet.
|Egypt, Japan, Saudi Arabia.
What is Feudalism?
A government under the monarch which is based on the rank order where the nobility possesses lands from the crown in exchange for military assistance is known as a feudal government. The peasants or the slaves were people who looked after the land (possibly cultivators) and were obliged to work for the Lord and give him a share of the produce.
“A system of governance in medieval Europe which is organized according to rank by working and fighting for him in exchange of land and protection.” - Cambridge dictionary.
“When the basis of a political system is in the relation of lord to vassal with all land held in fee and as chief characteristics homage, the service of tenants under arms and in court, warship, and forfeiture, it is called as feudalism.” – Merriam – Webster dictionary.
As given in the table, it is derived from Latin and English words. As we get to see that feudalism gained its roots in Europe, it is fair to say that the term was derived from Latin and the English language. However, just because we find more references to feudalism in Europe does not entail that it was only practised in Europe. There are several other parts of the world in medieval as well as contemporary times when feudalism has been practised. In fact, the structure of India itself is influenced by feudalism, where the Governors of the states act as the Lords.
It follows a socio-economic structure, which is a large system with the people at the core which involves the different aspects of human activities and the many complex factors of the living environment.
In a feudal form of government, it is easier to make the decisions and faster to implement them. We learn how the process of passing a law is a very complex procedure, however, the feudal form of government makes it easier to pass a decision upon the people and because there are several lords looking after the welfare of the state for the monarch, it is easy to make sure that the people are abiding by the laws. It enhances security as the lords swear to give their people protection. There is no doubt that a king or a queen takes an oath to do the very same but they cannot be available for the whole state at a particular time, whereas a lord has his own army of people working along with him for the betterment of the people. The common folks have to pay less tax because they are now living under the lord and working for him which is already a payment in itself.
However ideal as a feudal state may seem to be, it always has its drawbacks. Nothing is perfect and certainly not any form of government is perfect. So let us get down to critically evaluate the disadvantages of a feudal government. It has a very closed society. The people under one lord do not like to mingle with the people under the other lord. It may or not be forbidden by the enforcer himself, and in some cases, it can be a personal choice of the people. In medieval dramas, we find the protagonists travelling to other parts of the country under the other lords, and we see how they describe the place as something completely alien. This close-knit structure refrains the people from fully exploring and enjoying the richness of society. Where there is a rule of class there is always inequality. The people of the lower class such as the farmers who work at the farms of the lords or slaves were always treated inadequately by the people of the upper classes. People were often linked with their jobs. It was like a caste system for them where they associated the people and their families with their jobs and we all know a fair detail about the caste system.
The major power resides in the hands of the Lords who are not elected through the voting system. He is either the son of the previous lord or he is selected by the crown to be a lord. There is a possibility of the presence of a parliament, if we take the example of India again, we know that every state has its own parliament. Although they have their own parliament, they do have a constitution, the legislature size is also small and defined. Although it is no surprise that there is not much political stability in such a form of government.
What is monarchy?
A government which is led by a king or a queen and the power lies solely in their hands is known as a monarchy. “A type of government having a king or queen.” – Cambridge dictionary.
“A form of government in which a hereditary chief of the state with life tenure and powers varying from nominal to absolute is called monarchy.” – Merriam – Webster dictionary.
It is derived from the Greek word ‘Monarkhia’. We all know how the monarchy was practised in every civilization at the beginning of the formation of states. It is not just a concept of the west where the people follow the monarchs. It has been a practice since ancient times and since the beginning of the evolution of humans. The tribal leaders acted as monarchs until the actual civilization came into existence when people began looking up to the most powerful male to protect them from other civilizations. This was how the monarchy came into force.
In a system of monarchy, we notice that the monarch is the head of the state and what he says is what the people are meant to follow. His ideologies are the state ideology. He is the sole leader of the state and his people.
Because he is the law, whatever he says is the law that people abide by, so it is not a very difficult process to create laws. Therefore, it is a very flexible form of government where laws can be made and amended anytime without much time or money.
A monarch is the backbone of the monarchy. If he is unable to look after his people or take proper care of the administration, the state may crumble. The people and the ministers are all dependent upon the monarch for every little decision. Dissatisfaction among the people can lead to frequent and violent rebellions against the king.
The power is in the hands of the ruler who sits on the throne through heredity claims. The parliament is an active source of the functioning of this form of government along with a constitution which may or may not is written. The legislature may be as huge or small as the monarch decides. And it is no surprise that when the burden of all of the responsibilities is on the shoulders of one person, the government is unstable.
The two terms may be very closely related yet they are not the same. Feudalism is the successor of the Monarchy which was left behind by a lot of countries during the medieval period. It was quite impossible for the monarch to look after the people himself or herself. So they gave their blessings and powers to lords who took care of a certain land area. This gave rise to feudalism in the world and along with it, it also saw the decline of the monarchy.