Feudal fragmentation

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Feudal fragmentation [1] being a stage in the development of certain feudal states, in which it is split into smaller regional state structures, each characterized by significant autonomy if not outright independence and ruled by a high-ranking noble such as a prince or a duke. [2] [3] Feudal fragmentation is usually associated with European history, particularly during the Middle Ages. [4]


Feudal fragmentation occurs after the death of the legitimate ruler leaves no clear heirs, and rulers of various subdivisions of the original state fail at electing or agreeing on a new leader for the previous, larger entity. In some cases (for example, the Holy Roman Empire) such a leader may be elected, yet wield much lesser powers than those of his predecessor. Feudal fragmentation is related to the concepts of agnatic seniority and principate. [3]

Fragmentation of Poland between the sons of Boleslaw in 1138:
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The Seniorate Province of Wladyslaw II
Silesian Province of Wladyslaw II
Masovian Province of Boleslaw IV
Greater Poland Province of Mieszko III
Sandomierz Province of Henry
Leczyca Land
Pomeranian vassals TestamentKrzywoustego.png
Fragmentation of Poland between the sons of Bolesław in 1138:
  The Seniorate Province of Władysław II
  Silesian Province of Władysław II
  Masovian Province of Bolesław IV
  Greater Poland Province of Mieszko III
  Sandomierz Province of Henry

  Łęczyca Land
  Pomeranian vassals

This phenomenon has occurred in the history of several countries and regions:

According to Samir Amin, feudal fragmentation has been mostly a European phenomenon and did not occur in the history of China or Islamic Middle Eastern states. [4] [19] At the same time, the term feudal fragmentation has been used in the context of history of China (the Warring States period) [20] and history of Japan (the Sengoku period). [21] [22] [23]

See also


  1. Piotr Górecki (2007). A local society in transition: the Henryków book and related documents. PIMS. p. 62. ISBN   978-0-88844-155-3.
  2. 1 2 (in Polish) Rozbicie dzielnicowe. WIEM Encyklopedia.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 (in Polish) rozbicie dzielnicowe. PWN Encyklopedia.
  4. 1 2 Samir Amin, The Ancient World-Systems Versus the Modern Capitalist World-System, in André Gunder Frank; Barry K. Gills (1996). The world system: five hundred years or five thousand?. Psychology Press. p. 252. ISBN   978-0-415-15089-7.
  5. Norman Davies (30 March 2005). God's Playground: The origins to 1795 . Columbia University Press. p.  53. ISBN   978-0-231-12817-9 . Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  6. Norman Davies (20 January 1998). Europe: a history . HarperCollins. p.  429. ISBN   978-0-06-097468-8 . Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  7. Maureen Perrie (2001). The cult of Ivan the Terrible in Stalin's Russia. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 100. ISBN   978-0-333-65684-6.
  8. George Ginsburgs; Roger Stenson Clark; Ferdinand Joseph Maria Feldbrugge; Stanisław Pomorski (2001). International and national law in Russia and Eastern Europe: essays in honor of George Ginsburgs. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 163. ISBN   978-90-411-1654-3.
  9. Evgeni Tanchev; Martin Belov; Cristian Ionescu; C. A. J. M. Kortmann; J. W. A. Fleuren; Wim Voermans (2008). Constitutional law of 2 EU member states: Bulgaria and Romania : the 2007 enlargement. Kluwer. p. 1. ISBN   978-90-13-05635-8 . Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  10. Selçuk Akşin Somel (2003). Historical dictionary of the Ottoman Empire. Scarecrow Press. p. 32. ISBN   978-0-8108-4332-5.
  11. Reinhard Bendix (1980). Kings or people: power and the mandate to rule. University of California Press. p. 141. ISBN   978-0-520-04090-8.
  12. Mikuláš Teich; Roy Porter (1993). The National question in Europe in historical context. Cambridge University Press. p. 153. ISBN   978-0-521-36713-4.
  13. Keith Jenkins; Sue Morgan; Alun Munslow (2007). Manifestos for history. Taylor & Francis. p. 188. ISBN   978-0-415-37776-8.
  14. R. C. van Caenegem (1991). Legal history: a European perspective. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 149. ISBN   978-1-85285-049-4.
  15. Peter J. Hugill (1995). World trade since 1431: geography, technology, and capitalism . JHU Press. p.  48. ISBN   978-0-8018-5126-1 . Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  16. Stefan Rossbach (1999). Gnostic wars: the Cold War in the context of a history of Western spirituality. Edinburgh University Press. p. 81. ISBN   978-0-7486-1024-2 . Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  17. Nicholas Lampert; Gábor Tamás Rittersporn (1992). Stalinism: its nature and aftermath : essays in honour of Moshe Lewin. M.E. Sharpe. p. 86. ISBN   978-0-87332-876-0 . Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  18. Donald Kagan; Steven Ozment; Frank M. Turner; A. Daniel Frankforter (13 June 2001). The Western Heritage: To 1715 : Brief Edition . Prentice Hall. p. 143. ISBN   978-0-13-041576-9 . Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  19. Samir Amin (January 2011). Global History: A View from the South. Fahamu/Pambazuka. p. 18. ISBN   978-1-906387-96-9.
  20. Thomas M. Magstadt (2010). Nations and Government: Comparative Politics in Regional Perspective. Cengage Learning. p. 277. ISBN   978-0-495-91528-7.
  21. Jeffrey Kopstein (2000). Comparative politics: interests, identities, and institutions in a changing global order. Cambridge University Press. p. 182. ISBN   978-0-521-63356-7.
  22. Paul N. Siegel (2005). The Meek and the Militant: Religion and Power Across the World. Haymarket Books. p. 210. ISBN   978-1-931859-24-0.
  23. Jansen, Marius B. Jansen. (1995). The Emergence of Meiji Japan,p. 124 , p. 124, at Google Books; retrieved 6 July 2011

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