FEUDALISM (feudal): The stage of society that preceded capitalism, during which a small elite (the aristocracy) demanded recompense from a peasantry in exchange for military protection. As Marx and Engels explain, "Like tribal and communal ownership, it is based again on a community; but the directly producing class standing over against it is not, as in the case of the ancient community, the slaves, but the enserfed small peasantry" (45). In the city, the feudal structure manifested itself in trade guilds. The organization of both the country and the city "was determined by the restricted conditions of production—the small-scale and primitive cultivation of the land, and the craft type of industry" (46), which meant that there "was little division of labour in the heyday of feudalism" (46). Exploitation functioned differently during stage than during the heigth of capitalism because each feudal peasant knew exactly what proportion of his labor had to be handed over to the aristocracy and the church; the rest was his or hers to use.
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