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1 ANDERSON, PERRY: The feudal mode of production ", in: Transition from Antiquit

y to Feudalism, Siglo XXI Editores, Mexico, 1997. [Original English 1974]. Part
II. I. Western Europe. Pages 147-154. 1. The feudal mode of production feudal mo
de of production that appeared in Western Europe was characterized by a complex
unit. Often, traditional definitions of feudalism have realized this fact only p
artially, with the result that is difficult to analyze the dynamics of feudal de
velopment. The feudal mode of production was dominated by the land and the natur
al economy, in which neither work nor were the products of labor goods. The imme
diate producer, the farmer was attached to the means of production - land, by a
specific social relation. The formula used in that regard is provided by the leg
al definition of serfdom glebae adscripti, or seconded to the land, that is, the
serfs were legally limitada1 mobility. The peasants who occupied and cultivated
land were not the owners. The Farm was privately controlled by a class of feuda
l lords who extracted a surplus product of the peasantry through relations of po
litical-legal compulsion. This extra-economic coercion, which took the form of l
abor services, incomes in kind or customary obligations of the peasant to the lo
rd, was exercised both in the demesne, linked directly to the person of the Lord
, as holdings or plots cultivated by peasant. His was a necessary result of econ
omic exploitation legal amalgamation with political authority. At the same time,
the property rights of the lord over his [page 148] land were usually one of de
gree: Mr. received the investiture of their rights of another noble (or noble) a
bove, who had to cavalry service, this is providing effective military assistanc
e in time of war. In other words, received their land as a fief. In turn, Mr. li
gio was often feudal2 vassal of a superior, and the chain of those holdings depe
ndent linked to military service extended upward to reach the highest point of t
he system
Chronologically, this legal definition of the phenomenon appeared long after tha
t designated facts. It was one invented by the legal definition of Roman law in
the eleventh and twelfth centuries and became popular in the fourteenth century.
See Marc Bloch, Les characteres originaux de l'histoire rurale française, Pari
s, 1952, pp. 89-90 [French rural history: original characters, Barcelona, CrÍti
ca, 1978]. We will find repeated instances of this delay in the legal codificati
on of the economic and social relations. 2 ligio tribute was technically a form
of tribute that took precedence over all others in those cases in which a vassal
should fidelity to many masters. In practice, however, Ligia soon became synony
mous with any feudal superior, and the homage ligio lost its original and specif
ic distinction, Marc Bloch, Feudal Society, London, 1962, pp. 214-18 [feudal soc
iety, Mexico, UTEHA, 1958].
2-in most cases, a monarch, who, ultimately, all land in principle could be emin
ent domain. In early medieval times, the characteristic of the intermediate link
s feudal hierarchy, between the nobility and the monarchy simple sovereign, were
the Castellani, the barony, county, and principality. The consequence of this s
ystem was that political sovereignty is never settled in a single center. The fu
nctions of the state disintegrated in a vertical distribution from top to bottom
, precisely in each of the levels at which integrated the other hand the politic
al and economic relations. This fragmentation of sovereignty was inherent to all
feudal mode of production. Hence arose from three structural characteristics of
Western feudalism, all of vital importance to its dynamics. First, the survival
of the commons of the villages and the freeholding of the peasants, which, from
pre-feudal modes of production, although not generated by feudalism were not in
compatible with it. The feudal division of sovereignty in particular areas with
overlapping boundaries, and no universal competence center, always allowing the
existence of corporate bodies "halogen" in its interstices. Thus, while the feud
al class occasionally tried to impose the rule nulle terre sans seigneur, in pra
ctice he could not succeed in any social formation feudal communal lands-meadows
,€meadows and forests, and scattered freeholding always been an important secto
r of autonomy and resistance [pg. 149] peasant, with decisive consequences for a
gricultural productivity total3. Furthermore, within the manorial system, the st
epped structure of the property was expressed in the property division of land b
etween the domain of the lord, organized directly by their managers and cultivat
ed by its villains, and farmers' fields, of which received an additional surplus
product, but the organization and control of production was in the hands of the
ir own villanos4. Thus, there was a concentration
Engels always correctly highlighted the social consequences of the village commu
nities, made up of communal lands and the triennial rotation system to the condi
tion of the medieval peasantry. This was said in The Origin of the Family, Priva
te Property and the State, which gave "the oppressed class of farmers, even unde
r the most cruel bondage of the Middle Ages, local cohesion and strength of resi
stance were not available to the slaves of antiquity and has no modern proletari
at, "Marx-Engels, Selected Works, London, 1968, p. 575 [Selected Works, Madrid,
Akal, 1975, II, pages 323-4]. Based on the work of German historian Maurer, Enge
ls mistakenly believed that these communities whose origins dated back to the be
ginnings of the Dark Ages were "brand associations" when in fact they were an in
novation of the late Middle Ages, which appeared for the first time in the fourt
eenth century. But this error does not affect the essence of his argument. 4 The
medieval manors had a variable structure depending on the relative balance in t
hem existed between these two components. At one end was [a few] farms devoted e
ntirely to the demesne, such as 'granges' cultivated by Cistercian lay in the ot
her end was also some farms completely leased tenant farmers. But the most wides
pread type was always a combination of aristocratic power and holdings in variou
s proportions: "This bilateral composition of the manor and its income has alway
s been the true hallmark of the typical manor, M. M. Postan, The mediaeval econo
my and society, London, 1972, pp. 82-94.
3 simple and horizontal two basic classes of the rural economy into one homogene
ous form of ownership. Within the estate, relations of production were mediated
through a dual agricultural status. On the other hand, there was often a disjunc
ture between the new justice to which slaves were subjected in the manorial cour
ts [manorial] and his master and the seigneurial jurisdictions [seigneurial] of
territorial dominion. The manors usually did not coincide with each village, but
were scattered in several of these, hence, conversely, in every village were in
terspersed a multitude of different domains manorial lords. Above this tangled l
egal maze [pg. 150] is normally the haute justice of the territorial lords, whos
e geographic area of responsibility was not for the dominios5. The peasant class
from which the surplus product was extracted dwelt in this system, therefore, a
social world of claims and overlapping powers, whose diverse and plural "instan
ces" of exploitation latent created gaps and discrepancies, impossible in a more
unified legal and economic . The coexistence of communal lands, freeholding and
plots, with their own feudal control, was constitutive of the feudal mode of pr
oduction in Western Europe and had major implications for their development. Sec
ond, and even more important than this, the division of sovereignty in Western E
urope produced the phenomenon of the medieval city. Once again, the genesis of u
rban commercial production should not be within the feudalism as such, because i
t is obviously before him. However, the feudal mode of production was the first
independent development allowed under a natural economy agriculture. The fact th
at the largest medieval cities in magnitude could never compete with those of th
e empires of antiquity, or Asia, has often obscured the truth that their role wi
thin the social formation was much more advanced. In the Roman Empire, with its
elaborate urban civilization, cities were subordinated to the domination of the
landowning nobles who lived in them, but not of them. In China, the vast crowds
in the provinces were controlled by bureaucrats, mandarins who resided in a spec
ial district separate from any commercial activity. By contrast,€the paradigmat
ic medieval cities of Europe, who exercised the trade and manufacturing, were se
lf-governing communities, which enjoyed a corporate autonomy, political and mili
tary respect for the nobility and the Church. Marx saw this difference and clear
ly expressed so
There is an excellent analysis of the basic features of this system in B. H. Sli
cher van Bath, The agrarian history of Western Europe, London 1963, pp. 1946-195
1 [Agrarian History of Western Europe, Barcelona, PenÍnsula, 1974.] Where there
were no territorial domains, as in most of England, the various domains that ex
isted within the same village farming community gave considerable scope for self
-regulation, see Postan, The mediaeval economy and society p. 117.
4 memorable: "The story is classic old urban history, but of cities based on the
land and the [pg. 151] agriculture Asian history is a kind of indifferent unity
of city and country (in this case, the truly great cities must be regarded mere
ly as a camp manor, as an overlay on the economic structure itself), the Middle
Ages (Germanic period ) arises from the land as the site of history, history, wh
ose further development is then converted into an opposition between town and co
untry; the [history] modern urbanization of the countryside is not, as among the
ancients of the city ruralization "6. Thus, the dynamic opposition between town
and country was only possible in the feudal mode of production: opposition betw
een a growing urban economy of commercial exchange, controlled by merchants and
organized into guilds and corporations, and a natural exchange rural economy, co
ntrolled by noble lords and organized plots, communal and individual peasant enc
laves. Needless to say that the preponderance of the latter was enormous: the fe
udal mode of production was overwhelmingly agricultural. But his laws of motion,
as we shall see, were governed by the complex unity of different areas and not
by the simple dominance of the manor. Finally, on top of all dependencies feudal
hierarchy was always an intrinsic oscillation and ambiguity. The "top" of the c
hannel was in some important respects its weakest link. In principle, the highes
t level of the feudal hierarchy in any territory of Western Europe was necessari
ly different, not in kind but only in degree, from the subordinate levels of dom
ains located below it. Put another way, the king was a feudal lord of his subjec
ts, who were bound by mutual ties of loyalty, not a supreme ruler placed over hi
s subjects. Their financial resources resided almost exclusively in their person
al domains as Lord, and their calls to their vassals were essentially military i
n nature. I had no direct political access to the entire population, since the j
urisdiction over it was mediated by countless subinfeudación levels. The monarc
h, in fact, it was only master of his own domain, in the rest was largely a cere
monial figure. The pure model of this system, in which political power was strat
ified to below so that [pg. 152] did not retain its top qualitatively different
from any authority or plenipotentiary, never really existed in Europe medieval7,
because the lack of a
Karl Marx, Pre-Capitalist Formations, London, 1964, pp. 77-8 [Building Blocks fo
r the Critique of Political Economy, Madrid, Siglo XXI, 1972, I, p. 442]. 7 The
State of the crusaders in the Middle East has often been viewed as the closest t
o a perfect feudal constitution. The overseas construction of European feudalism
were created ex nihilo in a foreign environment and assumed, therefore, an exce
ptionally systematic legal form. Engels, among others, emphasized that uniquenes
s, "Is that feudalism fell to his concept? Founded in the kingdom of the Franks
5 truly integrative mechanism at the top of the feudal system, as required by th
is type of political system, posed a constant threat to its stability and surviv
al. A complete fragmentation of sovereignty was incompatible with the unit class
of their own nobility, because the potential anarchy necessarily imply involvin
g dislocation of the entire mode of production which are based privileges. So th
ere was an internal contradiction in feudalism between the specific and powerful
trend towards a breakdown of the sovereignty and the absolute demands of a fina
l center of authority that could take place a restructuring practice. The feudal
mode of production of specified West, then, from the beginning,€sovereignty: t
o some extent, this has always existed in a legal and ideological field located
beyond those vassal relations whose top could be the powerful ducal or county an
d had few rights that the latter could not aspire. At the same time, the real po
wer was always true to assert and spread against spontaneous disposition of the
whole feudal political system in a constant struggle to establish an authority "
public" outside the compact network of private jurisdictions. The feudal mode of
production marked the West, then, from its inception and in its very structure
by a dynamic tension and contradiction within the state that produced and reprod
uced centrifugal organically. [Page 153] This political system necessarily precl
uded the emergence of an extensive bureaucracy and functionally divided in a new
way to class rule. Because on the one hand, the fragmentation of sovereignty in
Europe in the Middle Ages led to the formation of a completely separate ideolog
ical. The Church, in late antiquity had always been directly integrated into the
machinery of the imperial state and subordinate to it, now became essentially a
utonomous institution within the feudal political system. As the only source of
religious authority, his control over the beliefs and values of the masses was i
mmense, but their ecclesiastical organization was different from that of any sec
ular monarchy or nobility. Due to the dispersion of coercion, which was intrinsi
c to the nascent Western feudalism, the Church was able to defend, when necessar
y, its corporate interests from a territorial stronghold and through armed force
. The institutional conflict between secular and religious domains were therefor
e endemic in medieval times and the result was a split in the structure of
Western perfected in Normandy by the conquerors Norwegians continued their train
ing by the Norman French in England and in Southern Italy, moved closer to the c
oncept in Jerusalem, in the realm of a day, in Jerusalem Asisises [Godfrey of co
de Bouillon for the kingdom in the eleventh century Jersualén N. E.] made the c
lassic expression of the feudal order, "Marx-Engels, Selected Correspondence, Mo
scow, 1965, p. 484 [Correspondence, Buenos Aires, Carthage, 1973 422]. But even
in the realm of the practical realities Crusaders never corresponded to the lega
l codification of their baronial lawyers.
6 legitimacy feudal cultural consequences for the subsequent intellectual develo
pment would be considerable. On the other hand, the secular government itself wa
s reduced significantly to a new mold and became essentially the exercise of "ju
stice" that under feudalism functional occupied a position quite different from
today is under capitalism. Justice was the central form of political power, spec
ified as such by the very nature of feudal political power. As we have seen, the
pure feudal hierarchy excluded any form of "executive" in the modern sense of a
permanent administrative apparatus of the state to enforce the law, because the
fragmentation of sovereignty made it unnecessary and impossible. At the same ti
me, there was no room for a 'legislative' type post, because the feudal order ha
d no general concept of innovation policy through the creation of new laws. The
Monarchs kept their traditional laws preserving function, but inventing new ones
. Thus, for some time, political power came to be practically identified with th
e single function "law" in interpreting and applying existing laws. Moreover, in
the absence of a public bureaucracy, coercion and local administration, police
powers, to impose fines, collect tolls and enforce the laws "were added inevitab
ly to the judicial function. [Page 154] Therefore, it is always necessary to rem
ember that "justice" included medieval really a much broader range of activities
that modern justice, because structurally occupied a much more central position
within the global political system. Justice was the ordinary name of power.