A kingdom was, by definition, a territorial unit acknowledging a king as its supreme political authority. To the extent that it became the unique organizing principle in society, feudalism denatured the kingship, reducing it to the simpler role of overlordship. Left to itself the highest integration feudalism could achieve was an equilibrium of polyarchic forces, usually unstable. The non-feudal, pre-feudal attributes of the kingship were what provided feudally organized societies with their integrating principle. Where the kingship was powerful, a coherent political system emerged: the feudal regna, as in England, Sicily, and France. Where it was weak, the regnum dissolved into a congeries of petty principalities, free cities, and even city republics: such was the fate of ‘Germany’ and Italy. This chapter discusses the political geography of western and middle Europe, the development of the European regna, the feudal kingdom of England, the classical feudal kingdom of France, and the disintegration of the kingdom of Germany.
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