racy. “Feudalism” is a word used by English and French lawyers in the 17th and 18th centuries to describe, long after the fact, the Rule of the Few in Europe from the 8th century into the 13th. Not surprisingly — since lawyers are among the cleverest Guardians of the Few — “feudalism” does not directly refer to the rulers at all. (It is not few-dalism — though that would be a clearer spelling). Instead, the word comes from the obscure, complex, and technical legal way that the various ranking lords of the aristocracy (the Ruling Few) were bound to each other — economically — as vassals by being enfeoffed (so, “feodal” or “feudal”). Just as confusing, the very name “republic” means “a thing or affair of the people,” but as every classical historian knows (but who listens to them?), the republic was, in fact, invented as “a thing or affair” of the Ruling Few. The Roman oligarchs used this form of government to rule the Roman Empire for hundreds of years before they replaced the republic with the monarchy of the caesars.

The Pyramid of Power

The fact that monarchy, feudalism, and republican-
ism are three models of oligarchy — no matter how they are branded — can be shown quite easily since each is structured hierarchically in a pyramid of power which uses the same supports to impose this power on everyone else. This basic structure of oligarchy can be expressed in this picture-sentence, reading down from the top, with an arrow showing the top-down flow of political power:

democracy diagram