Bastard feudalism

"Bastard feudalism" is a somewhat controversial term invented by 19th century historians to characterise the form feudalism took in the Late Middle Ages, primarily in England in the Late Middle Ages. Its distinctive feature is that middle-ranking figures rendered military, political, legal, or domestic service in return for money, office, or influence. As a result, the gentry began to think of themselves as the men of their lord rather than of the king. Individually, they are known as retainers, and collectively as the "affinity" of the lord, among other terms.

The Dunstable Swan Jewel, a livery badge, from c. 1400 (British Museum)