22 September 2014
Feudalism and Manorialism
The feudal system was a way of government based on obligations between a lord or king, and a vassal in a share of lands. The king gave large pieces of his land to his trusted workers or vassals, to distribute in return for services. These estates, called the fief, included houses, barns, tools, animals, and serfs or peasants. The king, in the act of giving out this land, promised to protect the vassal on the field or in the courts no matter what. In return, the nobles who were granted the fiefs swore an oath of loyalty to the king as well as promise never to fight against the king. Each of the king's vassals was also a lord or tenant, in chief with vassals of his own. Each vassal would be an overlord to those he gave fiefs to while remaining a vassal of the king. The subtenants in turn gave out the land in smaller portions. Sometimes there were many levels of lords who had vassals under them with many small plots of land. However, the most important promise of the vassal to the lord was the military oath. The vassal usually served as a knight for the king for a certain agreed amount of days. This service usually lasted about 40 to 60 days a year, and if the serve lasted longer, they were to be paid for it. If they actually had to fight in a war, they usually only fought for two months.
As for class, there were only a few nobles. Most people were serfs who worked the land for a noble of some sort. A serf was bound to the land they were given, and couldn’t leave. If the noble sold the land the serf went with it, as if they were one. About half the serfs time was spent working for the lord rather than themselves, though. Most jobs included working in the fields and waiting on the members of the lord's family.
Manorialism represented the economic portion of feudalism, where all aspects of life were centered on the lord’s manor including everything around it. Much like Feudalism, it had levels of people with large estates that exchanged labor or rents for access to land. It also had to do more with the political relations between the Lord of the Manor and his peasants. This allowed the lord to have governmental power which included the maintenance of a court for his serfs.
The lord of a Manor operated the system of manorialism, which gave him economic and legal power over his tenants on his land. The lord's land was called his demesne, which he needed to support himself on and for personal keep. The rest of Manor land was given out to the peasants, who were his tenants. Usually, a large piece of land was split up into a bunch of small strips to be given out. Peasants also had rights to use the common land that wasn’t taken for the lord or another peasant,. and was allowed to take wood from the forest for fuel and building purposes as long as they were not to hunt as that was left to the lords. Although, some good came from all of this. The obligations of manorialism meant that the peasants who worked on the manor, paid the lord of the manor certain dues and taxes in return for the use of his land. The lord, in turn, would protect and take care of the peasants living on said land. The lord would even go so far as to if a tax was given out after the time a peasant was given a house and was not included in their contract, it was taken care of for them. If the husband that owned a given piece of land happened to die, the land would be given to an heir. If the heir was to young, they were assigned someone to take care of the land until they were of age. If only a widow was left behind, the wife was given a few months to remarry, or in some cases, the lord might marry her.