Feudal Society, Volume 1 [ePub]

by Marc Bloch

I think that Marc Bloch is the historian that all current historians secretly (or not) wish that they could be. He writes beautifully, researches with a remarkable breadth, and conveys his ideas with thoughtfulness and clarity, weaving together little details into big tapestries. He also, to top it off, fought in the French Resistance. Even if you're not a historian, you probably want to be like Marc Bloch too, and just don't know it yet.

Feudal Society takes the scope of its name very seriously: unlike a lot of books on feudalism, Bloch roams through all the relevant fields of interest. There are chapters on literacy, the development of legal culture, and the pervading attitudes towards nature and time. The first 150 or so pages could read like a selection from a general textbook on medieval history (that I really wish Bloch had written). This forms the bedrock for the bulk of his study: the emergence and development of vassalage and feudal ties. Bloch explores it in all its complexities, essentially characterizing it as a mesh of the personal, the political, and the economic, arising in the midst of a period of disorder when the traditional ties of kinship no longer sufficed. It's very nuanced but very readable.

On to volume two!

04.09.2010

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