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Feudal Society, Volume 2

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"Few have set themselves to the formidable task of reconstructing and analyzing a whole human environment; fewer still have succeeded. Bloch dared to do this and was successful; therein lies the enduring achievement of Feudal Society."—Charles Garside, Yale Review "Few have set themselves to the formidable task of reconstructing and analyzing a whole human environment; fewer still have succeeded. Bloch dared to do this and was successful; therein lies the enduring achievement of Feudal Society."—Charles Garside, Yale Review


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"Few have set themselves to the formidable task of reconstructing and analyzing a whole human environment; fewer still have succeeded. Bloch dared to do this and was successful; therein lies the enduring achievement of Feudal Society."—Charles Garside, Yale Review "Few have set themselves to the formidable task of reconstructing and analyzing a whole human environment; fewer still have succeeded. Bloch dared to do this and was successful; therein lies the enduring achievement of Feudal Society."—Charles Garside, Yale Review

30 review for Feudal Society, Volume 2

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    First there was Feudal Society, volume 1 which unsurprisingly flows in to the second volume were we get the shifting social classes and the development of polities. Despite the age of Bloch's work it provides along with Ganshof's Feudalism one of the basic or fundamental definitions of Feudalism, the great thing is that although both men developed distinctly different views of what Feudalism was they might both be right. For Bloch a Feudal Society was one in which one provided service in return First there was Feudal Society, volume 1 which unsurprisingly flows in to the second volume were we get the shifting social classes and the development of polities. Despite the age of Bloch's work it provides along with Ganshof's Feudalism one of the basic or fundamental definitions of Feudalism, the great thing is that although both men developed distinctly different views of what Feudalism was they might both be right. For Bloch a Feudal Society was one in which one provided service in return for land, by this definitions there have been many feudal societies in various parts of the world. While for Ganshof feudalism was a precise question of law it was distinguished by certain legal acts and oaths and was something which existed mostly between the Rhine and the Seine, for perhaps a couple of hundred years. Bloch's vision is expansive and energetic, his viewpoint is of Feudal society as a culture, while Ganshof saw Feudalism as a legal framework both seems to me to be valid and useful pairs of spectacles. From a non-technical point of view Bloch's account is also rich in detail.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    While I didn't like this one quite as much as Volume 1 - it lost a bit of its clarity and momentum, I think - it's still a great read. This section deals a bit more with how the feudal society laid out in the first volume, based on a weak state and the inadequacy of traditional ties of kinship, interacted with broader structures of power like kingship, empire, and a little bit on the Church. I think Bloch is a better cultural historian than a socio-economic one. His sections on chivalry, knighth While I didn't like this one quite as much as Volume 1 - it lost a bit of its clarity and momentum, I think - it's still a great read. This section deals a bit more with how the feudal society laid out in the first volume, based on a weak state and the inadequacy of traditional ties of kinship, interacted with broader structures of power like kingship, empire, and a little bit on the Church. I think Bloch is a better cultural historian than a socio-economic one. His sections on chivalry, knighthood, and sacred kingship are the highlights of this half, and tend to overshadow his discussion of principalties or castellanies. The latter are fine, but I think they remain a bit too weighed down in abstraction to be really effective. Because Bloch is covering so much information, he has to leave out concrete examples or case studies in a lot of these sections. It can leave them feeling a bit like they're mired in details but simultaneously like the reader has nothing solid to hold onto, which can be frustrating. Of course, it's also possible that I just think cultural history is more fun. On the whole, a great initial overview of medieval society. I think it's a classic for a reason.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Raymond

    A well-known milestone in medieval historiography and one of the easiest five stars I've ever given. To sum up, Bloch starts off with the internal breakdown of state power in early medieval Europe and the numerous external threats it faced, setting the stage for a society where power was increasingly local and based on personal bonds of allegiance - in other words a feudal society. He then proceeds to analyse in-depth the nitty-gritty workings of these personal bonds and how they shaped both the A well-known milestone in medieval historiography and one of the easiest five stars I've ever given. To sum up, Bloch starts off with the internal breakdown of state power in early medieval Europe and the numerous external threats it faced, setting the stage for a society where power was increasingly local and based on personal bonds of allegiance - in other words a feudal society. He then proceeds to analyse in-depth the nitty-gritty workings of these personal bonds and how they shaped both the workings of power and the mentality of the people, and this is where the book really shines. I can hardly think of a better book if one wants to understand the nuts and bolts of how feudalism worked in medieval Europe and how it impacted European culture, or at least parts of it: It's heavily focused on France, particularly northern France which provides the standard model of European feudalism for Bloch, as well as Germany and England, with occasional asides to Spain, Italy and Scandinavia. To finish off, he explains how the growth of the power of the kings through increasingly effective state bureaucracies began to reduce the feudal character of these regions during the high middle ages. It's not however what I'd call an "entertaining" book as the subject matter can be dense, but it's highly informative and thus never boring if one has an interest in the subject.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Sprague

    Academic, dry at times, but overall a very interesting account of European society between the Roman Empire and the late renaissance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Frederik Vandelannoote

    Excellent introduction to medieval society. Very clear and condensed, yet sufficiently detailed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Bateman

    In terms of reconstructing societies and mentalities from limited sources and a lot of deep thinking, there are few works better than this one. Dated, I suppose, and some claims have been proven incorrect with deeper reach, but the persistence of Bloch's work is proof of its tremendous value. I'd hesitate to call anything "magisterial," but this two-volume set warrants the adjective. In terms of reconstructing societies and mentalities from limited sources and a lot of deep thinking, there are few works better than this one. Dated, I suppose, and some claims have been proven incorrect with deeper reach, but the persistence of Bloch's work is proof of its tremendous value. I'd hesitate to call anything "magisterial," but this two-volume set warrants the adjective.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lars

    Insightful and pleasant to read, Bloch's analysis of the development and maintenance of feudal structures and societies is one of the best I have read. Succinct but still rich in detail, highly recommended work from a premier medieval scholar. Insightful and pleasant to read, Bloch's analysis of the development and maintenance of feudal structures and societies is one of the best I have read. Succinct but still rich in detail, highly recommended work from a premier medieval scholar.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tessa

    I didn't like this one as much as the first one, and he's extremely detailed, so sometimes I got lost in that. I didn't like this one as much as the first one, and he's extremely detailed, so sometimes I got lost in that.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    See the review for the first volume.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wendyb

  11. 5 out of 5

    LPenting

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Kianka

  13. 4 out of 5

    Libby Walen

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kennwynne

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  16. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Ephrem

  17. 4 out of 5

    Justanotheralias

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Hümmel

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alberto

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Mayernik

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dafne

  22. 5 out of 5

    N.W. Martin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  24. 5 out of 5

    James Byrne

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meg

  27. 4 out of 5

    Donna

  28. 5 out of 5

    Johnna Sturgeon

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christie D'Agostino

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

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