Life in the Middle Ages centred around the manor, or large estate or a feudal lord. The wealthier people lived in large castles, but the majority of people lived on the Manor. Manorialism helped organise the people when the Roman Empire fell due to the fact everyone felt insecure about their lives and belongings.
Manorialism (also known as Seigneurialism) is a system used in the Middle Ages in which landless labourers and poor farmers gave their land, their freedom and/or services to powerful landowners who had the military power to defend them from harm. The powerful landowners were known as the Overlord/s and the farmers were known as Serfs.
How did it come into being?
When the Roman Empire fell in 476AD, there was no army to protect the peasants from thefts, murders etc. After a period of time, a Frankish king named Charlemagne decided to bring in a system called Feudalism which later developed into Manorialism after the Battle of Hastings which made ‘William the Conqueror’ the King of England.
The Manor house was the largest building in the village. It was often separated from the rest of the village. The wealthiest type of Lord’s would have a Manor House built from stone or brick whilst the poorer (yet not poor) lord’s would have their house made from wood.
The Manor house was often a luxurious home in the medieval time and had many types of rooms for different uses. It would generally include –
- The Solar – A private living area for the lords and senior woman for relaxing and dining in.
- The Great Hall – A large hall with many decorations and beautiful windows usually with a large fireplace used for meetings and sometimes even cooking.
- The Kitchen – An area where they would cook their meals, had large ovens and fireplaces to cook.
- The Garderobe – A simple hole that removed the human waste into the moat.
- The Pantry – A place where short lasting food was stored.
- The storerooms – Where most of the items were stored.
- The Buttery – Where the beverages were provided and stored.
- The Chapel – Where people were prayed for, the higher ranking people sat in the upper side whilst the lower ranking people sat in the lower side.
Outside the Manor house was the peasant village where all the peasants/serfs lived.
The peasant would usually consist of a –
- Bakehouse – A bakery in which bread was baked.
- Mill – A building in which meat was beat/grounded and flour/wheat was grounded.
- Church – Where the worship of God happened and people prayed.
- Cruck house – The houses which peasants lived in, they were usually materials baked in the sun and provided good insulation.
The fields and farms would usually be on the edge of the Manor and be surrounding the peasant village. The fields would usually be in strips of ploughed/unploughed. There would usually be a side with the seeds for Spring and a side with seeds for Autumn.
- (Manor House) http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/manor-house.htm
- (Manor House Rooms) http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/manor-house.htm
- http://www.castlesandmanorhouses.com/manorhouses.htm (No publisher or name available for the above)
- (Holt, Rinehart and Winston) http://go.hrw.com/hrw.nd/gohrw_rls1/pKeywordResults?ST9%20Medieval%20Manor
- Langi.P (2012) “The Manor.” https://wccshoeing.wordpress.com/category/8c-the-manor/