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Ancient Athens, Greece was a direct democracy. It began in 461 B. C. and ended in 338 B. C. Ancient Athens defined their citizens as any male who is 18 years old or older, and has citizen parents. Like Ancient Rome, Athens had separate branches of government which helped them organize and maintain society. Pericles, an influential statesman, contributed a lot to the history and legacy of Ancient Athens. He helped rebuild Athens after the Persian Wars. He also contributed greatly by promoting the idea of a direct democracy.

Athens had an organization of government by the Council of 500. It was an idea contributed by Cleisthenes. The Council of 500 helped carry out the everyday work of the assembly. Citizens of Athens did everything and made decisions based on reason. Athenian democracy contributed to the rise of democratic ideas because Athenians were the first ones to develop the 3 separate branches of government (executive, judicial, legislative). It was a big contribution because our government today consists of three separate branches also.

Ancient Rome, located in Italy, is an indirect or representative democracy. They had a different way of organizing and controlling/ maintaining society. The laws were voted upon and the elected representatives make decisions on their behalf. The laws that are decided upon are then engraved and publicly displayed on the 12 tables. The 12 tables were tables publicly displayed in the city with laws engraved so that everyone could see them. The laws applied to every citizen; rich or poor. In Ancient Rome, in order to be a citizen, you had to be a free-born male.

The two main classes of people were patricians and plebians. Patricians were the upper class people (nobles and land owners). Plebians were the lower class. Emperor Justinian was significant in the legacy of Ancient Rome because he contributed the code of laws. Rome was a huge factor in the rise of democratic ideas because it influenced us to write the laws down (written code). Also, Rome was a republic. They didn’t believe in heredity nobility and royalty. It contributed to the rise of democratic ideas because our political parties consist of a Republic also.

Feudalism was a medieval political and social system in which serf labored for landholders who protected them militarily. Feudalism lasted for about 800 years, and it consisted of different individual groups. In a feudal system, a lord would grant a fief (land) to a vassal in exchange for military protection. In return, the vassal owes the lord knights/ food soldiers, ransom money, and housing. With the land, the vassal would find a serf to work the land in exchange for military protection.

In other words, the feudal system was almost like a giant pyramid where different individual groups relied on each other either for military protection, labor, and others. In a feudal system, the key to political power was through owning land and providing military protection. This huge political and social system began in 476 B. C. when the Vikings and Germanic tribes attacked the Western side of the Roman Empire. Odoacer also took over, resulting in the fall of the Roman Empire. Over time, feudalism began in the kingdoms formed by the people.

Not only did feudalism consist of lords, vassals, and serfs- They also consisted of knights, peasants, artisans, nuns, and monks. Peasants were people who worked the land but had the freedom to move around. Nuns and monks were people who committed and devoted their lives to their religion. They do not marry, but they provide food, protection, and care for serfs and peasants. Over time, feudalism changed. The Vikings and raiders converted to Christianity, which resulted in less attacks and therefore, the decrease of value for military protection. It was one of the major events that lead to the end of feudalism.

Another event was the crusade that had been formed by the Byzantines and Soljuck Turks. It allowed new text, trade, and other ideas to develop. As time passed, trade increased as a result of the new roads. With trade came new ideas, and people saw beyond their villages. Trade was the other major event that lead to the end of feudalism. The value of land decreased, and towns eventually developed. A new class had also been formed, known as the merchants. They were middle classed people with no political power. All these events lead to the end of feudalism.

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