There is no one commonly accepted definition of Feudalism, but we can broadly define it as a system of reciprocal obligations between landowners and serfs. It was the dominant system of politics and economics in medieval Europe.

However, as far as I can tell most major civilizations passed through a similar stage, often before adopting something we'd regard as a recognizable modern political settlement. It is common to hear of a feudal period in Shogunate Japan, for example. A little research suggests that the Zhou Dynasty in China, Moghul India and the early Ottoman Empire could all be described as "feudal" under our rough definition.

The reasons for feudalism to arise in all these cases differs in the detail but does seem to be linked to the total or partial collapse of a single, stable ruling power.

So my question is: can we mark Feudalism as a necessary stage in the development of modern democratic or dictatorial government? If so, why? And if not, are there any examples of advanced societies that have not passed though this stage?

  • Good question. My own answer is "no" but I'll wait if more knowledgeable people answer first. Otherwise, I'll pitch in with a long form. – Felix Goldberg Apr 26 '17 at 11:18
  • Be useful to know your reasons, downvoter? – Bob Tway Apr 26 '17 at 11:51
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    As those who have played Civilization know feudalism is required for the development of chivalry. – liftarn Apr 26 '17 at 12:25
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    I have voted to close my own question, because I found a near duplicate. Still be interested to know if there were any major states that didn't pass through feudalism, but that's a different question. – Bob Tway Apr 26 '17 at 13:08
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    Maybe the Inca Civilization (Empire) qualifies as an example. – Moishe Kohan Apr 26 '17 at 16:13