Not everyone in medieval Western Europe belonged to the feudal system. Clergy and religious orders (monks and nuns) were theoretically independent of secular rulers (being subject instead to the authority of the Church), though kings sometimes achieved political dominance over local clergy and abbeys, thus effectively placing them within the feudal framework. The same is true of cities, which reappeared in Western Europe in the later Middle Ages; some remained separate from the feudal system, while others were drawn in by powerful monarchs.


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