Feudalism was the system adopted by the ruling nations in Europe in the 9th to the 15th centuries. The ruling system favored the authority giving them power to dominate over the people as they exercised their rule. Certain relationships wee formed through the rule such as exchanging labor and other services while one's land was being held. The aspect of land was viewed quite strongly and its allocation to different people played a significant role as well. Although feudalism is not practiced anymore, it is demonstrated in plays and books as literature such as; the song of Roland and the play Henry V. In general feudalism was a military system, a caste system as well as a property system. Therefore, this paper aims to look at feudalism as revealed in the song of Roland and Henry V.
The song of Roland is based on a French background where feudal values are observed and recognized as the book highly reflects on them. The story narrates the transformation process of France into a Christian nation. The nation was being held together by the connection the people had to the king and the lord loyalties. The aspect of loyalty is highly observed and appreciated especially when it is exercised between a loyalty figure and his subject. The fact that feudalism became quite evident in the Middle Ages is in reflection of the settings of the book as they display the middle ages in their ruling system and cultures. The feudal system is mainly meant to control the people against rebelling and to be able to allocate the land available without question.
The aspect of heroism is quite evident in the book and it is mainly based on feudal inspiration. Charles the king is given high praise since he had been able to conquer and dominate Spain for seven years. His acts of heroism are represented in battle where he is able to conquer other nations and maintain his rule in his nation as well as in foreign nations. This gave him the access of land that he required since access to land and the people were the main factors that facilitated the feudal rule. The pagans in the poem are also referred to as heroic. This is evident in that they are considered to be loyalty and vassalage. Feudalism is expressed in the fact that the lords and vassals were connected to each other through the obligations and loyalties that they had to adhere to. A vassal was made subject to his lord and he had to give him total loyalty and he would be given protection at all times. Incase the vassal was to be killed while he was still subject to the King then the king had an obligation to exercise vengeance. The same pattern is witnessed in Roland as he dedicates his time and energy serving Charlemagne. Vassalage is related to Christianity and Roland understands that eh should serve God and he likens Charlemagne to God hence, his dedication.
Feudalism viewed God as powerful and good and this was evident in that the characters in the song of Roland believed that God would be able to sustain and intervene for them in the difficult situations. This was evident in Ganelon's trial where it was to be done by combat as they claimed God would help the man in the right. Despite the faith that they have in God, evil things still occur in the poem and they are linked to the will of God. Christianity is highly reflected in feudalism and the same is evident in Roland's song. Charlemagne goes to war against the Islam community and claims that his actions are dictated by his duty. Roland also grasps the aspect of duty as he fights to death at Rencesvals and it is in the same aspect that Charlemagne avenges the death of Roland.
Feudalism is also openly practiced in the play Henry V; it is evident in his rule and his interaction with the people as well as the objectives that the people have to adhere to. The presence of the knights, castles, beautiful princesses and sword all represents feudalism and this is present in Henry V since he ruled Britain during the middle ages where feudalism was being embraced by different nations. King Henry V rule was not questioned and the aspect of land is highly reflected in the play. England and France are united through the simple aspect of marriage between Henry and Katherine of Valois and the two lands are joined by marriage. The aspect of loyalty is highly exercised in the play and the exchange of power in a pyramidal form is observed as well. Power to rule over the people is not handed to people randomly but it stays within the family structure in a pyramid form. This is evident in that after the death of King Hal, his son becomes Henry VI. This starts war again but it is quite understandable given that most people were starting to resist the feudalism rule imposed on them.
In general, feudalism was represented by control of the people and the lands. Loyalty was to be expected from the vassalages and in turn they would expect protection in return. Literature written in reflection of the medieval period reflects on the feudalism act imposed on the people during the time. The same is witnessed in the song of Roland and the play Henry V as hey structured in the mediaeval times thus reflecting on the feudal rule.