SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: feudal system CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A hierarchical political and economic system of the Middle Ages in which land was granted in return for military or labor services and the peasantry was ruled by a class of landowners. Several of the great civilizations of the world have passed through a feudal period in the course of their history -- in many countries of Europe and in Japan. The origins of European feudalism were in the early Frankish kingdom of the 8th century; feudalism spread with Frankish conquests.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: manorial system, seignorialism, seignorial system CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A political, economic, and social system by which the peasants of medieval Europe were dependent on their land and on their lord. Its basic unit was the manor, a self-sufficient landed estate, or fief, that was under the control of a lord who enjoyed a variety of rights over it and the peasants who were serfs. It was the focus of the feudal societies that developed in western Europe form the 8th-9th centuries. Well-known examples are 10th-12th-century sites of Goltho in Lincolnshire and Sulgrave in Northamptonshire for the Anglo-Norman period, and Wintringham, Lincolnshire, and Hound Tor, Devon, for the later Middle Ages. Houses of feudal lords from the 11th and 12th centuries in northern and western France have been excavated as well as small castles inside fortified villages, as at Rougiers in Provence or in Renaissance villages in Tuscany.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Classic Maya CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: Very important culture of Mesoamerica, one of the major Classic civilizations, which occupied the peninsula of Yucatan and Belize, the lowland jungle south of it, and the highlands of Guatemala and western Honduras. The civilization developed from other pre-Classic cultures by about 200 BC and continued until being conquered by the Spaniards in 1541 AD. By c 200 BC, at sites like Tikal and Uaxactún, the first pyramids were being built. Population increase and the introduction of new ceramic and architectural forms are accompanied by an artistic transition from Olmec through Izapan to Mayan. The classic Mayacivilization dates to c 292 AD, the earliest Long count date found on stele 29 at Tikal. The Early Classic period (200-600) was the golden age of the lowland culture and the great centers acted as foci for administration, religion, and the arts. Architecture, sculpture, and painting were highly developed; records were kept in hieroglyphicwriting, and elaborate ceremonies were carried out in the temples on top of their pyramids. A class of astronomer-priests observed the sun, moon, and planets, and had evolved a calendrical system more accurate than the Julian calendar used in Christian Europe. In mathematics the priests used a vigesimal system with the concept of zero and with a positional notation. The Classic Mayaculture is characterized by an immense investment of labor in construction of ceremonial architecture, the erection of stelae, and a growing differentiation between the elite and the peasantpopulation. The Maya practiced swidden agriculture as well as intensive agriculture, terracing and raised fields, and arboriculture. Polychrome pottery is a hallmark of the Maya Lowland Classic culture. The Late Classic period (c 600-900 AD) shows development in sculpture and architecture -- and regional styles can be recognized. Northern Yucatan began to come into its own at sites like Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, where fine buildings in the Punc style were erected during the 7th-9th centuries. The later part of this period witnessed the end of civilization in the lowlands; the great centers were abandoned during the 9th and early 10th centuries. The Post-Classic period, c 900 to the Spanish conquest, had strong Mexican influence, particularly at Chichén Itzá where buildings were constructed in the Toltecstyle of central Mexico, and the art shows representations of Toltec warriors overpowering Maya chiefs. During the collapse in the southern Lowlands, centers in the northern Lowlands began to grow, c 800-1000 AD. The South's decline may have played a role in the North's prosperity. Sometime around 1200, the Itzá were driven from their capital, and Mayapán became the leading city of Yucatan. In about 1440-1450, Mayapán was overthrown and there followed a time of disunity and warfare which lasted until the Spaniards conquered Yucatan in 1541. The Maya kingdoms of highland Guatemala were subdued in 1525, but in the lowlands the descendants of the exiled Itzá held out until 1697. The collapse of Mayaculture (in c 900) is a puzzling phenomenon, but its relative suddenness still remains without satisfactory explanation. There are no Long Count dates after 900, after which time lowland populations dwindled by as much as 90 percent. The term Maya also refers to a culture area and is typically divided into the lowland and highland Maya. Descendants of the Maya still occupy the region.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The dependent peasants or tenants of a Byzantine monastic economy. An estate, pronoia, was granted by the emperor and tied to military obligation. The recipient of a pronoia was entitled to all the revenues of his estate and to the taxes payable by his tenants -- the paroikoi -- on condition of equipping himself as a mounted cavalryman with a varying number of troops. He was in absolute possession of his property until it reverted to the crown upon his death.
CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: A term for the deteriorated mud-brick of ancient buildings. It was used as fertilizer by Arab peasants and the practice of digging for it has unearthed many artifacts which are now in museums.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: pl. terremare; Terramara or Terramare CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A local name for Middle Bronze Age settlements in the Emilia region of northern Italy's Po Valley -- consisting of mounds of dark earth formed by the accumulated rubbish of a permanent settlement occupied for a long period. The habitations were built on pilings and protected by a vallum, or defensive wall, which screened them from floods in a flat countryside with violent seasonal rains. These villages, whose dead were cremated, lasted until the Early Iron Age. The people of the Terramara culture migrated to Italy from the Danubian region during the Middle Bronze Age (early 2nd millennium BC), and introduced the rite of urnfieldburial into Italy. They were excellent bronzeworkers whose products were traded over much of Italy. The society was peasant and its art was limited to the construction of dwellings and to the production and ornamentation of weapons and vases. The pottery is a dark burnished ware with concentric groove decoration, bosses, and horned handles. The Terramara culture strongly influenced the Apennine culture in its last phase. The terramara is considered a forerunner of the Roman street and camp planning and also the medieval castle and village.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Deserted medieval village in the valley of Yorkshire Wolds, England, documenting a peasantcommunity between the Early Saxonperiod and the 16th century. There are rows of rectangular wattle-and-daub houses, two manor houses, and a 12th century AD church. The village was abandoned by the 14th-15th centuries.