William organized the kingdom according to the feudal system.
Principles of feudalism:
- Every man had a lord, and every lord had land. The king was connected through this ‘chain’ of people to the lowest man in the country. At each level a man had to promise loyalty and service to his lord. Each lord had responsibilities to his vassals. He had to give them land and protection
- Feu: Land held in return for duty or service to a lord.
- Vassals: All land owned by the king, but held by others, called ‘vassals’, in return for a promise to serve the king in war for up to forty days.
The nobles also had to give their king part of the produce of the land. Greater nobles gave part of their lands to lesser nobles, knights, and other ‘freemen’.
- Some freemen paid for the land by doing military service, others paid rent. The noble kept ‘serfs’ to work on his own land, who were not free to leave and often were little better than slaves.