Life in the ManorPosted: November 11, 2011
The land was governed by feudalism during the Middle Ages. Feudalism was an agreement of loyalty and services in exchange for protection. A lord would provide safety to a serf in exchange for labour on the lord’s field. The contract was marked by a ceremony. During the ceremony, the serf would kneel in front of his lord and put his hand in the lord’s hands. Following that, the serf would swear an oath of faith, promising to serve the lord for life. Everyone knew their obligations and rights.
The lord was a very powerful man. He was under the monarch in the pyramid of power. The lord would pledge his loyalty, money and prayers to the monarch in exchange for land and other privileges. He also had responsibility for his vassals; he would have to protect the family of any vassal who died.
Serfs were the lowest in the pyramid of power. They owned strips of land for food, clothing and shelter. They had very hard lives. They were free to work on their own fields three days a week. He would have to work on his lord’s land for the rest of the week except for Sunday. Serfs were required to give a certain portion of his harvest to his lord. The females in the serf’s family also had to work hard. When not helping out in the fields, they had to help out in the manor house/castle spinning cloth and make clothing. They also had to make bread and brew beer.
If a lord sold his estate to another lord, the serf would be sold to as the serf was part of the estate. Being able to own land and be sold with the land shows that serf weren’t slaves.
The size of the lord’s estate depended on his wealth. The estate usually had grain mills, a castle/manor house, miller, barn, church, serf huts, fields and many more. The lord lived in the castle/manor house. They used millers to operate the mill to transform grains into flour. The peasants would put one tenth of their produce in a tithe barn for the church to use. The church was the central feature of a manor, people went to church regularly. Farmers used fields to harvest their produce. They used the three field rotation method. One field was used during autumn to plant wheat or rye. The second field was used during spring to harvest oats, peas, beans and barley to make beer. The third field was ploughed but left unplanted. The farmers used it to preserve the fertility of the soil.
Feudalism started to fall in the thirteenth century as more towns appeared. Serfs ran away and started new lives in the towns. In addition to that, rulers declared that if any serf ran away and hid for a year and one day, the serf would be a free person. This was how serfs gained their own independence. Besides serfs running away, some lords were killed in crusades making the serfs free. Along with that, they serfs could buy freedom easily when the Black Death occurred.
Jade Ting 8B