Middle Ages and Feudalism
Historians generally consider the Middle Ages to have lasted from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance, approximately 400-1400 ce.  Furthermore, the "Middle Ages" can be subdivided into early (the Dark Ages), middle (the High Middle Ages) and late periods.  This was a span of time in which the fortunes of the church--There was only one single, Christian church in Western Europe--reached their peak in the West, as the church dominated almost every aspect of everyday life.  By the fifteenth century, that church control had begun to wane.  Feudalism was the prevailing political system throughout most of this period.  But by the fourteenth century the growth of monarchies had begun to displace the feudal system.
The Middle Ages were a time of war, almost constant war, and this was one of the reasons that feudalism emerged as a means of providing local defense.  The wars/conflicts were usually fought on a local level, but these isolated, personal wars could also escalate into regional and even national conflicts.  In the process of escalation, national loyalties could emerge--towards the country of France, for example.  If one questions why the prevalence of so much violence in the Middle Ages, then one answer is that the knight's duty, according to the three-class theory of society, was to fight, and so he fought.  Organized jousting was only the tip of the iceberg.  The church, constantly frustrated by this anti-Christian violent behavior, tried later to push this quest for war into more useful areas, i.e., the Crusades.
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