End of Europe's Middle Ages
Germanic customs contributed greatly to the martial aspect of feudal institutions. A group of equal free-born warriors, the comitatus, was led by the comes, a commander chosen for military ability. When plunder was seized, the commander took the larger part and distributed smaller portions to other members of the band. Once the comes acquired large amounts of land and the band became more settled, his household became more structured and specialized offices developed such as chamberlains, who looked after the most prized possessions (which were kept in the bedroom chamber) and the marechals or marshals, who cared for the stables.
Frankish expansion in the fifth and sixth centuries resulted in the
acquisition of vast tracts of land. Although the Merovingians granted
ownership to most of the royal holdings, the early Carolingians
(Pepin of Heristal: d.715 and especially his son, Charles Martel:
714-741) confiscated those lands. Reassigning them under strict
conditions of miltary service and loyalty, the Carolingians were able to deal
with the threat of Saracen expansion and set standards for feudal agreements.
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