Good books/articles on feudalism

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Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
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May 6 2017 16:35
Good books/articles on feudalism
Does anyone know of a good introduction to feudalism/the feudal mode of production? That is, something that just explains the class relations, how people produced (and rarely exchanged), lived and so on. Most of my knowledge about feudalism comes from several different sources, but I've yet to find that one book or article that is just a good primer.
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Noa Rodman
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May 6 2017 18:33

first section in Kautsky's More book is on feudalism (short, but following chapters are also interesting): https://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1888/more/index.htm

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(not directly related to your question, but Banaji made A Short Annotated Bibliography on 'Merchant Capitalism').

Mark.
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May 6 2017 20:42

For a general history of Europe in the middle ages you could try Medieval Europe by Chris Wickham. I'd have more faith in his analysis of the economy and society than I would in most more ideological accounts. He is a Marxist of sorts, but I think primarily he's a good historian.

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Sike
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May 6 2017 20:48

While certainly not a primer on feudalism it should perhaps be mentioned that Kropotkin's book Mutual Aid does include material about the mode of production in the Medieval village.

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
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May 6 2017 21:41

Thanks guys, much appreciated. I will take a look at those suggestions and see if they fit what I am looking for.

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Rommon
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May 7 2017 21:08

Thanks Mark, I too would like to know more about the medieval economy, specifically more detail on local village economies.

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Noa Rodman
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May 15 2017 11:23

In context of the debate on the extent of simple commodity production I relied on eg 2 books by Christopher Dyer:
Everyday Life in Medieval England
An Age of Transition (Economy and society in England in the later middle ages)

also:
Jessica Dijkman, 2011: Shaping Medieval Markets: The Organisation of Commodity Markets in Holland, C. 1200 - C. 1450.

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Entdinglichung
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May 15 2017 11:28

found the stuff by Marc Bloch and Jacques LeGoff quite interesting

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
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May 15 2017 15:37
Cheers.
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Zanthorus
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May 17 2017 14:43

I have the Wickham book, it's excellent.

Sort of hijacking on the topic of the thread, I'd be interested in any books of a similar scope that cover non-European societies. Japan particularly seems to be one where people go back and forth on exactly how 'feudal' it was, but the only book I have on Japanese history specifically is about the cultural institutions of the Samurai more than the nature of the Japanese economy in the pre-modern era.

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groovysocialist
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Jun 7 2017 02:47

@Zanthorus
You might find some luck through this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sh%C5%8Den
Shoen was a system of production similar to manorialism in Europe. I myself have been looking for resources on it but I've only found what this article cites as sources.

Tom Henry
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Jun 7 2017 04:05

Chris Wickham's Marxist categorisation of the feudal mode of production is criticised for it's vagueness and over-simplification by Jairus Banaji (another Marxist) in his fascinating book, Theory as History: Essays on Modes of Production and Exploitation. I would recommend this book to start with - it can then be used as a kind of lens through which to view other material. Or read it after the Wickham book, etc.

Banaji also shows how the formal subsumption of labor corresponds to the extraction of absolute surplus value, while the real subsumption of labor corresponds to the extraction of relative surplus value - and relates this to the transition from pre-capitalist forms of production to properly capitalist ones. Very useful.

He also investigates 'semi-feudalism' in India in the last couple of centuries.