There were many characteristics of the Middle Ages. Most people think of castles, knights, kings, and queens when they think of that time period. But, one thing you could count always on in the Middle Ages was loyalty. A kingdom was biased on loyalty toward the king. The main reason for this was the feudal system. The system of feudalism was a balanced arrangements of social classes, loyalty, and fiefs. Feudalism was biased on the giving of fiefs. A fief was the land that a noble would give to another noble of lesser power. A noble who gave out a fief was called a Lord and the nobles who received fiefs were called Vassals.
Only a nobles could be a vassals but a vassal could also be a lord if he gave a fief to another noble. A fief not only helped the vassal by giving him land and protection, but it also helped the lord by all the loyalties he received and it also gave him protection too. In time a fief became hereditary. The custom in which the eldest son inherited the fief was called Primogeniture. The feudal system was a triangle of social order. At the top, or smallest point, was the most powerful noble, in France, or the King, in England, and later the Church. Next, it separated into the first set of vassals, which were nobles of lesser power.
Further down were the lords of even lesser importance, the second set of vassals. The numbers of sets of vassals would vary and some nobles did not even give out fiefs. Whatever the amount of vassals, each set was always weaker then the last. Feudalism was often biased on a very personal relationship between the lord and his vassals. In return for the fiefs they were given, vassals were expected to give some kind of loyalties to their lord. Most of all, vassals would provide a certain amount of military service as a part of their loyalties. The land of a fief was usually used to farm, and a large percentage was given to the lord.
Vassals were also obligated to pay the ransom for his lord if he was captured in a war. Often vassals would help pay for their lords son s knighting. Sometimes vassals would even attend the marriages of his lords children. Social classes, loyalty, and fiefs were all part of the equilibrium of feudalism. A lord would give out a fief not only to help the vassal, but to help himself. Only nobles could give out fiefs, but it was always to nobles of lesser power. Vassals provided many things for their lord in return for their fief. Feudal times were a little more complicated compared to just our simple stereotypes.