Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Is this really the end of Feudalism?

Sark Following up on my post on Robert Palmer's English Law in the Age of the Black Death, I thought I'd post a little more on feudalism.  An island I’d never heard of, Sark, has just ended its “feudalism.”  (Listen to NPR's story here.) It is in the English Channel and is “owned by the Queen of England but not part of Great Britain.”  Whatever that means.  Anyway, the Parliament has consisted of forty Sark landowners.  Now, it’s coming to an end.  From here on out, there will be elections for the Parliament and 12 members will be landowners; 12 memebers will be non-owners.  What is the world coming to?  The Seigneur of Sark will maintain a few heredity rights–the right to keep the only unspayed dog on the island and the right to whatever washes up on the shore between the low and high watermark.

I seem to recall debate about whether feudalism ever existed, led by Susan Reynolds, Fiefs and Vassals. (Useful reviews here).  Sounds like there are some pretty interesting resonances on Sark with the anti-rent movement in the upstate New York in the 1830s-1860s.

Alfred L. Brophy

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