Learning Objective

Illustrate the hierarchy of the manor mechanism by describing the roles of lords, villeins, and also serfs

Key Points

The lord of a manor was sustained by his soil holdings and also contributions native the peasant population. Serfs who lived in land belonging to the mr were required to work the land, and in return received particular entitlements.Serfdom to be the standing of peasants in the manor system, and villeins were the many common kind of serf in the center Ages.Villeins rented small homes with or without land; as part of your contract v the lord they were supposed to invest some time functioning the land.Villeins might not move away there is no the lord’s consent and also the acceptance of the brand-new lord who manor they were to relocate to. Since of the defense villeins obtained from the lord’s manor, it was usually not favorable to relocate away uneven the landlord showed to be particularly tyrannical.The manor system was consisted of of three varieties of land: demesne, dependent, and complimentary peasant land.Manorial structures might be discovered throughout medieval Western and Eastern Europe: in Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Baltic nations, Holland, Prussia, England, France, and also the german kingdoms.

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All the land, no necessarily every physically linked to the manor house, that was maintained by the lord of a manor because that his own use and support, under his very own management.


Peasants under feudalism, particularly relating come manorialism. It was a condition of bondage that occurred primarily during the High Middle periods in Europe.


The most common kind of serf in the middle Ages. Castle had much more rights and a higher status 보다 the lowest serf, yet existed under a number of legal restrictions that distinguished them from freemen.


Men that were no serfs in the feudal system.

Manorialism was vital element of feudal culture and was the arranging principle the rural economic climate that source in the villa system of the Late roman inn Empire. Manorialism was widely practiced in middle ages Western Europe and also parts of central Europe, and was slowly replaced by the arrival of a money-based market economy and new forms of agrarian contract.

Manorialism was defined by the vesting the legal and economic strength in the lord of a manor. The mr was supported economically from his own direct landholding in a manor (sometimes called a fief), and also from the obligatory contributions of the peasant populace who fell under the jurisdiction that the lord and his court. These obligations might be payable in numerous ways: in labor, in kind, or, on rare occasions, in coin. Manorial structures can be uncovered throughout middle ages Western and Eastern Europe: in Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Baltic nations, Holland, Prussia, England, France, and the german kingdoms.

The key reason for the breakthrough of the system was perhaps additionally its best strength: the stabilization of society during the destruction of Roman royal order. Through a decreasing birthrate and population, job was the vital factor that production. Successive administrations tried to stabilize the imperial economic situation by freeze the society structure right into place: sons were to succeed their fathers in their trade, councilors were forbidden to resign, and also coloni, the cultivators of land, were not to relocate from the soil they to be attached to. The workers of the land were on their way to coming to be serfs. As the german kingdoms flourished Roman government in the West in the fifth century, roman inn landlords were frequently simply changed by Gothic or german ones, with small change to the underlying instance or displacement that populations. Thus the mechanism of manorialism came to be ingrained into medieval societies.

The Manor System

Manors each contained three class of land:

Demesne, the part directly managed by the lord and used because that the benefit of his household and dependents;Dependent (serf or villein) holdings transporting the duty that the peasant family members supply the mr with mentioned labor services or a part of that output; andFree peasant land, without together obligation yet otherwise topic to manorial jurisdiction and custom, and also owing money rent fixed at the moment of the lease.

Additional resources of earnings for the lord had charges for usage of his mill, bakery, or wine-press, or because that the best to hunting or come let pigs feeding in his woodland, and also court revenues and solitary payments on each readjust of tenant. On the other side the the account, manorial administration involved significant expenses, perhaps a reason why smaller mansions tended come rely much less on villein tenure.


Serfdom was the condition of peasants under feudalism, especially relating to manorialism. It was a condition of bondage that occurred primarily throughout the Middle eras in Europe.

Serfs who occupied a plot of floor were forced to work for the mr of the manor who owned that land, and also in return to be entitled to protection, justice, and also the ideal to exploit certain fields within the manor to preserve their own subsistence. Serfs to be often compelled to occupational on not only the lord’s fields, but also his mines, forests, and roads. The manor created the simple unit of feudal society, and the lord of a manor and also his serfs were bound legally, economically, and socially. Serfs formed the lowest class of feudal society.


A serf digging the land, c. 1170 CE. “Digging,” information from the Hunterian Psalter, Glasgow college Library multiple sclerosis Hunter.

Many the the an adverse components of manorialism, and also feudalism in general, revolve approximately the bondage the the serf, his lack of society mobility, and also his low place on the society hierarchy. However, a serf had actually some freedoms in ~ his constraints. Though the typical wisdom is the a serf own “only his belly”—even his clothes were the property, in law, that his lord—he might still accumulate personal property and wealth, and also some serfs ended up being wealthier than their complimentary neighbors, back this occurred rarely. A well-to-do serf can even be able to buy his freedom. A serf can grow what crops he observed fit on his lands, although a serf’s taxes often had to be payment in wheat. The surplus crops he would market at market.

The landlord might not dispossess his serfs without legal cause, was claimed to safeguard them from the depredations of robbers or other lords, and was expected to assistance them by charity in times of famine. Countless such civil liberties were enforceable through the serf in the manorial court.


A villein (or villain) was the many common kind of serf in the center Ages. Villeins had an ext rights and also a greater status than the shortest serf, yet existed under a number of legal limitations that identified them indigenous freemen. Villeins normally rented small homes v or without land. As part of the contract with the landlord, the mr of the manor, castle were meant to spend some of their time working on the lord’s fields. Contrary to famous belief, the necessity was not regularly greatly onerous, and was often only seasonal, together was the duty to aid at harvest-time, because that example. The remainder of villeins’ time was invested farming their very own land for their very own profit.

Like other species of serfs, villeins were compelled to administer other services, maybe in addition to paying rent the money or produce. Villeins were tied to the land and also could not move away without your lord’s consent and the accept of the lord to whose manor castle proposed to move to. Villeins were normally able to hold their very own property, uneven slaves.

Villeinage was no a completely uni-directional exploitative relationship. In the middle Ages, land within a lord’s manor provided sustenance and also survival, and also being a villein guaranteed accessibility to land and kept crops secure indigenous theft by marauding robbers. Landlords, also where legally licensed has been granted to do so, rarely evicted villeins, because of the value of their labour. Villeinage to be preferable to being a vagabond, a slave, or an un-landed laborer.

In many medieval countries, a villein might gain flexibility by escaping indigenous a manor to a city or borough and living over there for an ext than a year, yet this activity involved the loss of land rights and farming livelihood, a prohibitive price uneven the landlord was specifically tyrannical or conditions in the town were person who is abnormal difficult.

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Plowing a French field (French ducal manor in march Les Très wealth Heures du Duc de Berry, c.1410). In the foreground, a farmer plowing a ar with a plow pulled by two oxen; male the leader with a lengthy pole. Winemakers prune the vine in a pen and till the soil through a hoe to aerate the soil. On the right, a man leans on a bag, may be to draw seeds the he will certainly then sow. Finally, in the background, a shepherd bring away the dog that keeps his flock. In the elevator is the castle of Lusignan (Poitou), property of the duke of Berry. Viewed on the ideal of the picture, over the tower Poitiers, is a winged dragon representing the fairy Melusine.