Feudalism in the Holy Roman Empire
Feudalism in the Holy Roman Empire was a politico-economic system of relationships between liege lords and enfeoffed vassals (or feudatories) that formed the basis of the social structure within the Holy Roman Empire during the High Middle Ages. In German the system is variously referred to Lehnswesen, Feudalwesen or Benefizialwesen.Feudalism in Europe emerged in the Early Middle Ages, based on Roman clientship and the Germanic social hierarchy of lords and retainers. It obliged the feudatory to render personal services to the lord. These included e. g. holding his stirrup, joining him on festive occasions and service as a cupbearer at the banquet table. Both pledged mutual loyalty: the lord to ""shelter and protect"", the vassal to ""help and advise"". Furthermore, feudal lord and vassal were bound to mutually respect one another, i.e. the lord could not, by law, beat his vassal, humiliate or lay hands on his wife or daughter.The highest liege lord was the sovereign, the king or duke, who granted fiefs to his princes. In turn, they could award fiefs to other nobles, who wanted to be enfeoffed by them and who were often subordinate to the liege lord in the aristocratic hierarchy.