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Feudalism and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (Question/Answer)

Question No. 1

This question is about Feudalism and whether society had a definite structure in the Middle Ages. People usually stayed in the same class in which they were born for their entire life. (Western Reserve Public Media, 2008) Status did not change despite hard work. After the king’s rank came the nobles, then the knights, next to the knights were religious people (clergy), and then the tradesmen and peasants. The top-most level was the monarch, the ruler of the overall land, except the church.

The topic that often came first when discussing the Middle Ages is Feudalism. The two major impacts of feudalism are that, firstly, the unified government was discouraged by this system. (Wheeler, 2016)  The feudal system was like a contract between the individuals who promised their loyalty to the high-rank person. The reward of faithfulness was the pledge of protection and chances of occupying the land. Secondly, this system also discouraged the growth of trade and the economy. The serfs or peasants worked on the land of their lord. They were not allowed to move to other places. The part of the products and crops were given to the nobles who further sent most of it to the monarch.

The church played a huge role in supporting feudalism. They believed that God decided the position of every person in society. The involvement of the church in religious matters was definite. In the Middle Ages, the most educated were the clergymen, who advised the monarch on political, judicial, financial, and other military issues.

This positioning difference had many negative consequences. Unlike the nobles and other persons of higher ranks, the peasants were heavily taxed and had very few job options like farming or looking after noble’s land. They were restricted from their basic freedom rights. They used the old tools for farming which became even harder for them than it was. The plague spread fast among serfs as they were unhygienic and poor. They had to take permission from their lord when they moved.

Question No.2                          

Renaissance’s most famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci Mona Lisa is still considered a masterpiece. The painting was produced by Leonardo when he was in Florence about 1500-1508. The portrait is believed to be of Francesco Del Giaconda’s wife. Lisa was her name, and Mona is used as a short-term for Madonna (Lady). The mystery about this painting is that the sitter’s identification is uncertain. The painting depicts the appearance of the typical woman’s portrait. This portrait captures the viewer’s gaze because of her crossed hands, faint smile, or masquerading expressions in the smile.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

About 1280-1290, Cimabue painted Santa Trinita Madonna. This was painted to show the highest altar of the church Santa Trinita situated in Firenze. Madonna is defined as Maesta meaning Majesty. This painting depicts Jesus on the lap of the Virgin Mary, sitting on the throne. The throne is precious and refined, and the Virgin Mary sits delicately on it.

Cimabue’s Madonna

The presentation of gender during the Middle Ages was mostly sublimated in illustrations of the scriptural figures. Particularly, a single feminine figure, e.g., the Virgin Mary, depicted attributes associated with an idealized feminine figure. The role of Mary as Christ’s mother depicts the physical as the concept of the spiritual burden of humility, chastity, piety, salvation, and repentance. Middle-age art has a large number of representations of the Virgin Mary and her spiritual importance, which redefined established stereotypes for females (Jrank, 2017).

Compared to this, Leonardo’s painting of the Mona Lisa of Renaissance time depicts something different. This was the first painting that showed the sitter in front of a landscape, and Leonardo was the first painter to paint an aerial landscape. Although the traditional way of painting women in Italy differed from the one Leonardo painted. The way Mona Lisa looks into the viewer’s eye directly was unconventional to look like this for a woman at that time. This painting presents an ideal woman of that time rather than a real woman.


Western Reserve Public Media, (2008). The Middle Ages. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from

Wheeler, L (2016). Feudalism. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from

Jrank, (2017). Gender in Art – Middle Ages. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from

Italian Renaissance, (2015). Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from



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