Two of the most significant, though inter-related aspects of feudalism are, one that it is of european origin or is essentially europe centric; and second, that the concept of 'FEUDALISM' developed not on its own but in terms of its adversary called 'CAPITALISM'.
The concept of feudalism has along and complex history of evolution. The evolution is in turn closely linked with the growing theoratical perspective of looking at history as the study of progress, perceived basically as material progress, brought about by the triumphical march of science and technology in the post-enlightenment Europe. History then came on to be constructed in terms of stages of progress, culminating in the rise of industrial revolution and beyond. Feudalism was one of the stages, perhaps a dark age compared to what followed. If capitalism was considered to be a phase where people unleashed their energies, feudalism was seen as the shackle upon those energies.
Although one may find the latin word
, from where the word feudal has been derived. But in medieval europe, this word was used strictly in legal sense. It was used to connote a fief [one particular form of real property right], and not to denote a complex form of social structure. The word feudalism became popular through the works of 18th cent french philosophers Boulainvilliers, Montesquieu, who used it to indicate the parcelling out of sovereignty among the host of petty princes and lords during the middle ages.
However, with the progress of french revolution, the term practically came to be used as a general description covering many abuses of the
since then different meanings have been attached to the term feudalism.