Aristocracy vs Feudalism: Difference and Comparison

Every country has republics of certain kinds, such as Monarchy, Democracy, Communism, and Dictatorship. etc. Times are different now as people have the right to choose their leader. Well, this wasn’t the case centuries ago.

The government was elected based on royalty and nobility. Two such governments were Aristocracy and Feudalism. However, in today’s time, such forms of government no longer exist or are on the verge of extinction.

Key Takeaways

  1. Aristocracy is a political system where nobility holds power; feudalism is a social, economic, and political system based on land ownership and vassalage.
  2. Aristocratic governments can exist within feudal societies; however, feudalism is not limited to aristocratic rule and can include other forms of governance.
  3. Feudalism relies on a hierarchy of land ownership, with obligations between lords and vassals; aristocracy focuses on the privileges and responsibilities of the ruling class.

Aristocracy vs Feudalism 

An aristocracy is a form of government where a small, privileged ruling class called the aristocrats ruled. Feudalism is a form of government where a reciprocal system worked in which the people of higher ranks would give land and protection to people who would, in return, work and fight for them.

Aristocracy vs Feudalism

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An aristocracy is a form of government in which the most famous and nobility have all the powers. The definition of Aristocracy is described differently in different dictionaries, but the gist remains the same.

Aristocracy originated in ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. The caste system in India is also an example of the aristocracy.   

Feudalism, also referred to as the “Feudal system”, is a form of government that is formed based on rank. In simple words, people would serve the man with a high rank in exchange for land and protection.

Feudalism government originated in Europe in the 9th century AD. The feudal system was later established in many European countries and Asian countries. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonAristocracy Feudalism 
Definition An aristocracy is a type of government that is ruled or run by nobility or an exemplary individual. The feudal system, on the other hand, is also a type of government where it is organized and run based on rank.  
Origin Aristocracy was originated in Greece during the 4th century B.C era   Feudalism was established in Europe and was dominant during the 9th century A.D era. 
EndowmentIn an aristocracy, the authority to rule is passed on to the family(In case the leader dies or withdraws the position) In feudalism, inheritance is not mandatory. Anyone who has served well to the community in all aspects can have the power to rule. 
Characteristics Characteristics of aristocracy involve advantages and disadvantages-Advantages: Quick decision, no single ruler, luxury, enhanced security, and lower taxes.  Disadvantages: Closed society, no growth, and inequality.Characteristics of feudalism also involve advantages and disadvantages- Advantages: No corruption, faster process of the system. Disadvantages: Chances of rebellion and racism.  
Countries This government was set in many countries such as Nigeria, Denmark, Spain, England, and the United Kingdom. The feudal system was set in countries like France, Rome, Russia, Armenia, Portugal, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and England. 

What is Aristocracy?

Aristocracy is a type of government that falls under oligarchy societies where the government is organized by a small group of privileged people who claims to be high born than the rest of the society. In an aristocracy, other lowborn people from the society have no right to elect their ruler. 

The name “Aristocracy” came from a Greek word that means “rule by the best.” Aristocrats are considered superior because of their moral and intellectual excellence. 

In the case of social aristocracy, inheritance holds great importance. They inherit their power and position in their family lineage.

But, in the case of political or governmental aristocracy, the leader can be chosen based on the individual’s leadership ability and intellect and not their elite social class. 

In the 7th and 8th centuries BC, the position of the aristocrats was based on their ownership of lands and other assets. The aristocrats dominated many communities and managed to build colonization. But, the fate of the aristocracy did not last long.  

After the Industrial Revolution was introduced, the aristocracy was slowly fading away in some parts of America and France, which certainly caused a change from aristocracy to bureaucracy. 

By the end of the 19th century, the aristocratic government remained functioning and maintained political as well as social control in England, Germany, Russia, and Austria. However, aristocracy almost vanished in 1920 as a result of World War I. 


What is Feudalism?

Feudalism is also referred to as Feudality or the Feudal system. This is a form of government where the landholders(lord) provide tenants land, shelter, position, and military protection in exchange for their services and allegiance. 

The word feudalism was derived from the Latin word “feudal” and “feodalitas,” which was used till the Middle Ages and later was term was coined as a feudal system in the 1970s. 

Feudalism flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries, where the government was run by the involvement of 3 key models, i.e., lords, vassals, and fiefs. Fiefs were known as a portion of land where only labourers would work. 

Feudalism was not only limited to Europe, but it also prevailed in Japan from the 1100s to the 1800s. Such a feudal system was controlled by strong military leaders called(Shoguns) and provided facilities to vassals(Daimyo), armies(Samurai), farmers, labourers, and merchants. 

Functioning of feudal hierarchy: At the top of the social ranking in the feudal system is the king, who owns all the lands and grants them to the rightful lords.

Those lords had an army of tenants (vassals) who would swear their loyalty to the lords in the form of military services in exchange for the position, shelter, and daily bread.

And at the bottom of the social ranking were the peasants(serfs) who would follow all the orders and do all labour work in the society. 


Main Differences Between Aristocracy and Feudalism 

  1. The concept of Aristocracy originated in Ancient Greece, whereas Feudalism originated in the Middle Ages in Medieval Europe.
  2. Aristocratic type of societies or government still exists in today’s time, while European feudalism ended between the year 1500s and 1850s.
  3. In Aristocratism, the hierarchy was mandatory, whereas, in Feudalism, hierarchy was of the least importance.
  4. In Aristocracy, the chances of corruption and scam were less. In Feudalism, the chances of corruption were high.
  5. The aristocracy did not involve reciprocity and military protection, while the feudal system also offered reciprocity and military protection.

Last Updated : 12 July, 2023

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