View Full Version : Question about Feudal System

08-19-2005, 11:48 PM
For Midievalist, or anyone else who may know...

Can anyone tell me approximately what percentage of a person's income went to the crown (or other governing authority--baron, church, etc) under the feudal system? (Assume European, though I know Japan also had a feudal society at some point in history.)

Granted, this is a vastly simplistic question for such a complex topic, and no single number is going to be accurate. That's okay. I'm just trying to get a sense for what kind of tax rate was required to make the fuedal system work as an economy.



08-20-2005, 12:15 AM
It varies with the year, the conditions and the location.

For working numbers, you could justify anything from 30-60% pretty easily.

One important thing to remember is that a good chunk of it--up to 100% in some cases--was NOT cash, but in goods and services. You might have to work the lord's field one or two days a week, and perform several weeks per year of civil or military service of some kind.

08-20-2005, 12:26 AM
There are different degrees of fiefdom under the European system of feudalism. What we commonly think of as feudalism comes from the French system that later became part of English society, but Italy, Germany and Spain also had feudal systems. In some cases, a lord would bestow land upon a vassal, and the vassal would retain the revenues generated by the land, but in return he would make himself available for military service on the lord's behalf.

There is also a theory that peasants aren't even really part of the feudal equation at all, and that feudalism only applies to the relationship between a lord and his vassals (i.e., the nobility).

Serfs, who were your average Joe Villager, paid an annual rent to the lord or landowner, consisting of not only money but also a share of crops and livestock (I think it was ten percent, but I might be off on this). In addition to paying for the privilege of living there, serfs also had to contribute a certain amount of hours in work to the fiefdom. They could also be charged fees for things like hunting or fishing in the lord's woods or streams.

08-20-2005, 02:41 AM
As Patti indicated, that's a big question.

But you might start at looking at some primary resources here:


Scroll down to the bit about peasants' obligations.

08-20-2005, 07:28 AM
Well, you managed to bury me in more information on the subject than I could possibly ever absorb, Midievalist :flag:

But I couldn't find the part you indicated. :Shrug: I must be doing something wrong.


08-20-2005, 07:56 AM
Go here:to


Scroll down to the section called:

Peasant Customary Obligations

You will find links to documents that specify, for various times and places, typical obligations.

There's so much variety, not only from country to country but even from estate to estate, that you can use these as guidelines to make up your own, for fiction.

08-20-2005, 05:31 PM
There's so much variety, not only from country to country but even from estate to estate, that you can use these as guidelines to make up your own, for fiction.

That's essentially what I do. Make up a number that fits what you're trying to do, and enough research will find a precedent for it after the fact.