What are the causes responsible for the breakdown of feudalism ?

In England the process of decline and eventual decay of feudalism started from the middle of the 14th century. Several factors contributed to its decline and the ultimate emergence of capitalism.

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1. Itinerant Merchant :

From the eighth century onward a class of itinerant or roving merchants arose, who would move from village to village with their merchandise. This class brought the first breath of commerce and commercial intercourse to a Europe which had sunk to an almost tradeless and self-sufficient manorial organization by weaving a web of economic interdependence.

2. Urbanisation :

Federal system was essentially rural and agrarian. But since the eleventh century, slowly tons were rising. The towns developed as independent entities outside the main framework of social power. These towns had their own code of law and own institutions in contrast to the feudal countryside. The cities were the vessels of civilization. They were like “free oases in an unfree society.” The spontaneous growth of urban life provided a strong stimulus to monetization and commercialization of the Europe society.

3. The Crusades :


The crusades during the 11th and 12th centuries also helped in the slow evolution of a market society. The crusades acted as a bridge of contact between the “slumbering society of European feudalism, with all its rural inertia, its aversion to trade and its naïve conceptions of business” and the “brilliant society of Byzantine and Venice, with its urban vitality, its unabashed enjoyment of money making and its sophisticated business ways.” The crusades provided a new economic impetus. The crusades discovered a new means of wealth in money in the place of land. The crusades thus played a significant role in shaking a sluggish feudal society out of its put and thus hastened the economic transformation of Europe.

4. The Growth of National Power :

We had seen earlier that feudalism was born out of the disintegration of the old Roman Empire in Europe. The areas of govt. were isolated and compartmentalized. Trade was extremely hampered due to the absence of a unified market. But gradually a process of political unification set in. There was more and more of centralization of power. This gave rise to unified legal and monetary system, paying the way for the development of trade and industry. During the 16th century there was an intellectual and scientific awakening leading to an age of exploration. Various explorations led to the established of colonies in India, Africa and the Americas. All these provided a magnificent commercial stimulus on Europe.

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