A. Feudalism in brief: American property law is in large part derived from English land law. English land law, in turn, is in important part a product of English society as it existed during the Middle Ages. In particular, it is helpful to understand a little bit about feudalism, which was the economic structure of England during at least the 13th through the 15th Centuries.
1. Nature of feudalism: In feudal times, all land was treated as owned, in the first instance, by the king. He then in turn gave possession (but not what we would consider untrammeled ownership) of various parcels to his lords and barons, who had a corresponding obligation to provide the king with a certain number of soldiers (knights).