I'm confused about these terms, to keep it simple I've heard of people refer to khagantes and the system of Aghas in Kurdistan and sultanates as a kind of feudalism of the East with a pretty close analog of fiefdoms.

I know feudalism, even in the west, was a pretty vague term and has come to servitude to a well armed landlord with limited state powers.

The definition of Feudalism on Wikipedia is,

Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.

Is Feudalism specific to the west, or can it be applied to the Khagantes, Aghas, and Sultanates?

  • I believe different people use the word differently. Some would only use it within the specific medieval European context, but some would use it with any non-European system that is vaguely similar.
    – user69715
    Mar 19, 2018 at 22:09
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    The term feudalism does get applied to other sociopolitical systems around the world, but the classical definition is based off the western European system. It really all depends on how you're defining the term, as it gets applied to a rather diverse range of countries. Feudal Japan is a close analogue. Feudal China, not really.
    – Semaphore
    Mar 20, 2018 at 1:01
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    Your question, "Is Feudalism specific to the west..." is pretty much answered in Wikipedia's Feudalism, especially from a historiography perspective. Since you've read that, I'm not sure what you're asking for. And your choice of comparison, Khaganates, Aghas & Sultanantes are based on rank/titles of Inner and Western Asia. This line of enquiry is confusing. You might want to review it (suggestion: break it down to smaller pieces/components)
    – J Asia
    Mar 20, 2018 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


India prior to independence in 1947 is often considered "feudal"

Use of the term feudalism to describe India applies a concept of medieval European origin, according to which the landed nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord's land and give him homage, labor, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection. The term Indian feudalism is used to describe taluqdar, zamindar, jagirdar, sardar, mankari, deshmukh, chaudhary and samanta.

Japan from about 1185 to the Meji restoration (1868) is also considered by many historians to have been a Feudal society.

The regime that Yoritomo had established, and which was kept in place by his successors, was decentralized and feudalistic in structure, in contrast with the earlier ritsuryō state. Yoritomo selected the provincial governors, known under the titles of shugo or jitō, from among his close vassals, the gokenin. The Kamakura shogunate allowed its vassals to maintain their own armies and to administer law and order in their provinces on their own terms.

  • What about Khaganates, Aghas, and Sultanates? Mar 20, 2018 at 1:11
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    @congusbongus - I'm sorry. When this answer was written and posted, the question wasn't written as specific to those. It was just asking if the concept was confined to Europe.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 20, 2018 at 2:59

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