A social system that florished during the Medieval period, and began to decline shortly thereafter. The system was organized around an aristocracy, headed by a king. Each noble controlled territory (and its inhabitants) placed under the noble's control by the king. In return for this land, and the revenue it generated, the nobles were obligated to maintain soldiers for the king's service. In practice, feudalism was a hodge-podge of rights and obligations, which was eventually dismantled by the kings themselves in favor of central government and fewer independent minded nobles. A professional army in the pay of the king was also found to be more reliable. Feudalism was not confined to Christendom, but was also common in many Islamic lands, and places even further afield, such as India, China, and Japan.