Most people know that the feudal system controlled property ownership in England after the Norman conquest of 1066, but without a real understanding of what that really means. Feudalism was a social as well as an economic system. The basis of English Feudalism was every persons position in a certain society was determined through ownership of land.
Prior to the conquest, two types of land ownership were recognized in England: the celtic and the saxon. With the celtic land, all land was held by the sword. There was no legal institutions to protect the ownership of any land just how wel a man could fight to keep it. The saxon’s land ownership stayed with the family
Everyone who held land had to pledge fealty. William the Conqueror and his successors, claimed ownership of all the land in England, and everyone else obtained there land either directly or indirectly from the king. Knight service required the vassal to provide armored knightsin a number appropriate to the worth of the fief. The king made agreements with his most important lords, they were given certain lands in exchange for services to the crown. Ecclesiastics could not give homage since they were already the men of god. If the vassal was a villain, this was called heriot. No matter what happened that land did not leave the family possession. This was a part of every homage ceremony. Two ceremonies were performed: homage and fealty. The selling of noble wardships ans women in marriage could turn a quick profit. Fealty was only a promise to be faithful and honest. Besides tenures, the feudal lords also had a right to claim other benefits, called incidents, withch included taxes.