This book studies the historical development of feudalism in early modern Europe, that is, after its greatest moment of expansion during the Middle Ages. In some areas of Mediterranean Europe, feudalism was a crucial component of economy and society from the 16th to the 18th century. In Central-Eastern Europe, however, it survived until the second half of the 19th century. Feudalism was a regime for governing both land and people, based on unity of territorial possession and rule, and a set of functions locally delegated by a sovereign. Feudal economies were based on legally sanctioned forms of land-based revenue, the grounding of lords' rights in property, and socially binding relationships. Most importantly, feudalism was the prevailing social structure which helped shape the evolution of early modern European states.
Aurelio Musi teaches Early Modern History at the University of Salerno.