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Feudal Society: Vol 2: Social Classes and Political Organisation Paperback – November 16, 1989

ISBN-13: 978-0415039185 ISBN-10: 0415039185 Edition: 2nd

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Here is one of those rare books of impeccable scholarship which no intelligent person could possibly read without pleasure and interest and excitement. What Bloch's book gives us is the anatomy of an age.'Geoffrey Barraclough --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Marc Bloch was born at Lyons in 1886. He was for many years professor of medieval history at the University of Strasbourg before being called in 1936 to the Chair of Economic History at the Sorbonne. In 1939, he volunteered for active service; he was already fifty-three. After the fall of France in 1940, he went to the south, where he taught at the universities of Clermont Ferrand and Montpellier. When the south, too, was occupied, he joined the Resistance but was caught by the Gestapo, tortured, and finally shot in June 1944.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (November 16, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415039185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415039185
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,675,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I read this book for a contemporary historiography class.
Alejandro Cheirif
Indeed, I was constantly astonished by the sheer amount of valuable information Bloch was able to fit within this book's covers.
T. Greer
Bloch's work is one of the ten most important and influential books on medieval Europe.
Glenn McDorman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
I suppose I should be of two minds about Marc Bloch's "Feudal Society," a French work from the late 1930s which became available in English in the early 1960s, and was still fresh and exciting back when I was taking a freshman course on "Western Civilization." In theory, the book (and it is one book, although published in paperback in two volumes) has two major drawbacks. In practice, I find it solid, admirable, and well worth reading.

One drawback is the author's romantic glorification of the medieval peasant -- Norman Cantor has called attention to this in his "Inventing the Middle Ages," pointing out that Bloch gave it Marxist trappings. I call it romantic because I suspect that Bloch owed at least as much to Jules Michelet's nineteenth-century historiography, initially with a veneer of "science" added. Of course, Bloch actually went out and did fundamental work in the archives, and tried to get a real picture of how, in the long term, life had been lived by ordinary people, instead of relying on Michelet-style suppositions. (Yes, Bloch's "Annales" school is supposed to be the antithesis of the enthusiastic Michelet; but, while Bloch established its methodology in reaction to existing approaches, in Bloch's last book "The Historian's Craft," Michelet is still among "our great forebears.")

The second is the concept of "Feudalism" itself, which these days makes anyone with a serious background in medieval studies very uncomfortable.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Glenn McDorman on July 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Bloch's work is one of the ten most important and influential books on medieval Europe. Bloch displays true excellence in sholarship and narration. Nothing is stated without factual documentation to support it, and no information is carried beyond its logical conclusions. It is essential to read this two volume work before moving too deeply into medieval studies. Combine this work with Strayer's Feudalism (out of print, unfortunately) and you will have a good understanding of what society was like in a good portion of the Middle Ages.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Alejandro Cheirif on December 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book for a contemporary historiography class. As has been told by other reviewers, Marc Bloch is the founder (together with Lucien Febvre) of the Annales school. As a non-historian, I won't comment on its importance for historiography, but as a very valuable read for non-historians who want to understand the history of Western civilization reading the best books that have been written on the subject. This is my first book on the middle-ages and, although it took me quite a while to finish it (about a month) and it is definitively not an easy read, since it is an extraordinarily erudite work, it is a very worthwhile read. It provides a fairly good picture of how the feudal society developed after the Hungarian, Muslim, and Scandinavian invasions, which allowed it to flourish. I would point out two basic concepts that were of particular interest to me (although not explicit in the text). First, the concept of sovereignty. It is particularly interesting visually, since land was divided among an infinite number of lords as a bottom-up chain starting from the lowest peasant through the prince or monarch. So land belonged to everyone and to no one at the same time. This is a very original idea of sovereignty, rather opposite to modern sovereignty. The second concept is that of the "hommage", which I would call contract. The hommage between serf and lord was not that of subordination entirely, but it was neither that of equals--such as the contracts of the bourgoisie were, that we can trace back to the XIIth century, and personally I was moved by Bloch's analyses of this first contract among equals--, and it was originally voluntary.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By T. Greer on January 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
It is easy to think of the Middle Ages as a time defined by its political institutions - feudal hierarchies and oaths of fealty. For decades this was the unspoken assumption among Medievalists and historians the world over. but one day in the late 1930s, March Bloch sat down and wrote a great response to such views. One of the central founders of the Annalistes school of thought, Bloch was unable to boil down an age to nothing but a few rules of governance. As Bloch states in the beginning of his work, "the framework of institutions which govern a society in the last resort can be understood only through the knowledge of the whole human environment" (xv); providing anything but a compelling portrait of the whole of society robs an age of its essence. Sketching an era's institutions without describing its society is akin to sketching the hood of an engine without describing its internal parts. You may have a pretty picture of the structure, but you will have no idea how the system actually works.

To his credit, Bloch does an exemplary job describing the internal parts of the era he surveys. Indeed, I was constantly astonished by the sheer amount of valuable information Bloch was able to fit within this book's covers. In fewer than 400 pages the reader is delivered a comprehensive overview of the religious, philosophical, material, legal, and economic trends of the feudal age. This is not to say Bloch's work was a laundry list of dry facts - it was nothing of the sort. In addition to providing a compelling picture of all the different parts of the Medieval world, Bloch is able to connect them, to synthesize the moving parts into one cohesive whole.

According to Bloch, the period now known as the Middle Ages was subject to two great sociopolitical shifts.
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