Thursday, March 23, 2006

Death of European Feudalism

Feudalism in Europe has apparently died. The island of Sark, part of the British Crown Dependency of Guernsey in the English Channel, has voted to change from Feudalism to a more republican style of government.

The island has no cars or roads and heavily regulates the use of tractors. Many people thought the island was a relic from the past where island leaders, known as the Chief Pleas, cruelly oppressed their subjects.

But now their subjects are citizens with democratic rights. The Chief Pleas voted 25 to 15 in favor of republican change after the islanders took an opinion poll on the matter. Now 14 elected landowners and 14 elected residents will have power once the Queen approves the change.

The end of 450 years of feudalism is being attributed to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. The move is not without its detractors. One resident said "Feudalism is a great system and has worked very well for the island. What people wanted was an option of no change at all." I wish the result from the opinion poll the islanders took was available online.

While I am a republican I do recognize what Aristotle taught in Politics. The hierarchy of governments in theory from best to worst goes Kingdom, Aristocracy, Republic, Tyranny, Oligarchy, and finally Democracy. Aristotle qualified this by the fact that Kingdom and Aristocracy usually do not work so Republic is the best way to go. But what if an Aristocratic Feudalistic system does work?

However, I eagerly welcome Sark's move into democracy and hope it proves better than Feudalism.

Category: Historical Geography

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