This article argues that much of the comparative literature on feudalism suffers from two problems: first, a mistaken identification of what constitutes European feudalism, in particular an emphasis on feudalism as a merger of Roman and Germanic elements as well as a mistaken stress on manorial production; second, a focus on ontological concepts, that is, concepts existing outside of history and not subject to change of significance in the course of history, thus the state and the law. This article makes a case that if we shed those ontological concepts and the mistaken identification of what European feudalism is, we can discern many similar (and, it is contended, similar because they are linked rather than being merely comparable) changes in the ethnosphere in the tenth to thirteenth centuries, the ethnosphere being a linked Asian, European, and African complex of class societies based on agrarian production and nomadic production for the market, primarily in the context of nuclear families.


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pp. 503-529
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