Feudalism was introduced to Britain by the Normans after the battle of 1066. King William claimed all the land for himself and proceeded to rent out percentages of it to the nobles. The nobles, in turn, rented out land to knights in return for their promise of allegiance. The commoners then worked the land and paid rent to the knights in return for their protection. I asked which class each child would have liked to belong to. The King was voted the most desirable class to be in!

I did a practical demonstration of how feudalism worked using Play Mobil figures and chocolate. This was so worth doing. I had thought the children understood feudalism but I this exercise showed they had missed the finer points of it. I set our rather grubby table as shown below. Really you could use any proportions so long as there is only one king, more knights than nobles and more peasants than knights.

Accordingly each peasant had to pay 6 out of their 10 chocolates (60%) to their knights in return for their protection. Each peasant ended up with only 40 % of the original equal share in the harvest:

Each knight could keep his 10 chocolates (100%) but out of the 6 given to him by each peasant, he had to pay 5 to the noble to show his allegiance (called a payment of fidelity) . Each knight, therefore, ended up with his 10 chocolates plus one each from the peasants he protected. In our illustration each knight had 2 peasants to protect and so ended up with 2 extra candies resulting in a total of 12 chocolates. This, in effect, was 120% of the original equal share of the harvest.

The nobles, although collecting the payment from the knights, were effectively being paid by the peasants at 5 chocolates each. Here our knights are paid by 2 peasants and each noble is paid by 3 knights (in other words 6 peasants) thereby receiving 30 chocolates in addition to the 10 from the harvest. From this 30 he needed to pay the king 6 chocolates from each knight who had paid his allegiance (a total of 18 chocolates). The nobles ended up with 22 chocolates, 220% of their original share of the harvest:

It was, as expected, the king who came out on top, ending up with 46 chocolates; a whopping 460% of his original share of the harvest:

And just to show pictorially the proportions comparatively:

Afterwards the chocolates were shared out….democratically of course!!

It is always a joy to see our children using what they have learnt, but Gary and I had to giggle when T11 approached us yesterday with an idea. He had, in his infinite wisdom, decided to set up a feudal system in our garden. Each child has a patch of land about 3m by 2m which we have already given them. T11 had other plans however. He began to explain some elaborate scam, whereby he would rent out the three patches to his sisters and give us a cut of his proceeds!! He he, gotta love that boy!

For more great maths ideas see:

The final activity I had planned is called the Four Alls and is from this book:

The Four Alls is a poem explaining the roles of each class in the feudal system. I had the children write out the poem and stick in appropriate pictures to make a lovely note page:

Next we began to make a diorama. The running shop near to us had saved us lots of boxes:

We made one into a castle by cutting turrets into its lid:

Next we stuck the boxes together with a lidded one at the bottom for the peasants, then the castle for the knights, a palace for the king and the church for the priests right at the top:

Now we were ready to decorate.

Domesday book next!

Good job. Now I know where all the M&Ms went. I feel I fit into all four categories. Where should I be?

Knight (mine!) definitely. Although if you share your M&Ms out EQUALLY I might move you to king!

I didn’t get any M&Ms!!!

Love the diorama. I would never have thought of that. What a great illustration for your topic. Also loved the M&M activity. More great incentives for me.

Thanks Myra, what lovely encouragement for the children and I! Anything that is remotely edible is a hit in our house, especially if it includes chocolate!

WOW!!! Love this, I will definitely be doing this when the boys get a little older.

My guys really enjoyed it, especially the chocolate activity!

I love the diorama, and that demonstration of feudalism? BRILLIANT!

Thanks Ticia, as always-VERY good for my self esteem!!!

Hah! This showed up in my reader again and I was reading it thinking, “This sounds familiar, I’m sure I’ve seen it before…….” Then I read down to the comments, and I realized I had.

Still like this post a lot.

I wonder why you are getting repeats??

Living maths again! A great demonstration of feudalism.

You’re quite right, this is living maths! It didn’t occur to me- I’ll have to add it to the living maths category. Sometimes I wonder if I have a brain in this head of mine……..!

WoW! What a great lesson. I love your castle as well.

Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!

Maggy

We loved doing the diorama!

The diorama is amazing!!!

Thanks Sarah!

I agree that the feudalism demo is BRILLIANT!! I love the dioramas, too!

It really consolidated their understanding!

Awesome! We clearly missed the boat when we studied this in our homeschool last year 😉 I love your activities! Thanks for linking with Collage Friday!

Thank you Mary!

Awesome post and wonderful castle. I love the little people.

Thanks Julie!

Wow! That is an awesome diorama!!

Thanks Mary!

That math exercise is PHENOMENAL! Thanks for posting it on Math Monday. Off to post it on the love2learn2day Facebook page! 🙂

That’s kind, thank you very much!

Welcome! It really is awesome! 😉

This is AWESOME! we are in the middle of a Medieval/Castle unit too =-)

Thanks for linking up to TGIF! I always enjoy seeing what you’ve been doing!

Beth

Thank you Beth! Thanks for finding the time to pop and see your link-ees blogs and for leaving such kind comments!!

I just wanted to tell you that I’m planning this one into my co-op semester this semester. What great activities! 🙂

Thank you!

THank you for this!! I know it’s been sometime since you posted but I came across this while searching for SOTW vol2 ideas. Everything I found left me feeling blah! But I love this!

My math comes out to 64 for the king. He had 10 and got 54 (18X3) I want to do this activity but need to understand the math. Thanks

The king had ten. He received 18 from each Noble (who had been paid 6 from each of the three knights). There were only two Nobles (see top picture) so two Nobles gave 18 each which totalled 36, to which you add the original 10. The King therefore received 46 in total (18+18+10). Does that make sense? I think you maybe included three Nobles instead of just the two? Hope that clarifies it a bit.

Thanks for clarifying. So how many candies did you start with?

I counted 210 (ten each)

I tried to email you with another question. If I do this with only 2 knights each (8 peasants) Would it still work out properly? Last question, promise.

Yes, I think so. You’d still have more peasants than knights, more knights than nobles and more nobles than the single king.