Conveniently defined by Wikipedia as, “a putative legal right allowing the lord of a medieval estate to take the virginity of his serfs' maiden daughters. Serfdom is the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism. Serfs who occupied a plot of land were required to work for the lord of the manor who owned that land. In return they were . Villeinage was not, however, a purely uni-directional exploitative relationship. In the Middle Ages, land. The hierarchies were formed up of 4 main parts: Monarchs, Lords/Ladies (Nobles ), Knights, and Peasants/Serfs. Each of the levels depended on each other on.
Landlords, even where legally entitled to do so, rarely evicted villeins because of the value of their labour. Villeinage was much preferable to being a vagabond, a slave, or an unlanded labourer. In many medieval countries, a villein could gain freedom by escaping from a manor to a city or borough and living there for more than a year; but this action involved the loss of land rights and agricultural livelihood, a prohibitive price unless the landlord was especially tyrannical or conditions in the village were unusually difficult.
Bordars and cottagers In England the Domesday Bookofuses bordarii bordar and cottarii cottar as interchangeable terms, "cottar" deriving from the native Anglo-Saxon tongue whereas "bordar" derived from the French. Whipping was a common punishment for Russian serfs. In England, at the time of the Domesday Survey, this would have comprised between about 1 and 5 acres 0.
They owned no tenancy in land, worked for the lord exclusively and survived on donations from the landlord. It was always in the interest of the lord to prove that a servile arrangement existed, as this provided him with greater rights to fees and taxes. The status of a man was a primary issue in determining a person's rights and obligations in many of the manorial court -cases of the period.
Also, runaway slaves could be beaten if caught. The United States had approximately 4 million slaves by and the British Empire hadslaves when it abolished slavery in Usually a portion of the week was devoted to ploughing his lord's fields held in demesneharvesting crops, digging ditches, repairing fences, and often working in the manor house.
The remainder of the serf's time he spent tending his own fields, crops and animals in order to provide for his family. Most manorial work was segregated by gender during the regular times of the year; however, during the harvestthe whole family was expected to work the fields. A major difficulty of a serf's life was that his work for his lord coincided with, and took precedence over, the work he had to perform on his own lands: On the other hand, the serf of a benign lord could look forward to being well fed during his service; it was a lord without foresight who did not provide a substantial meal for his serfs during the harvest and planting times.
In addition to service, a serf was required to pay certain taxes and fees.
Vassal - Wikipedia
Taxes were based on the assessed value of his lands and holdings. Fees were usually paid in the form of agricultural produce rather than cash. The best ration of wheat from the serf's harvest often went to the landlord. Generally hunting and trapping of wild game by the serfs on the lord's property was prohibited. On Easter Sunday the peasant family perhaps might owe an extra dozen eggs, and at Christmas a goose was perhaps required too.
When a family member died, extra taxes were paid to the lord as a form of feudal relief to enable the heir to keep the right to till what land he had. Any young woman who wished to marry a serf outside of her manor was forced to pay a fee for the right to leave her lord, and in compensation for her lost labour. Often there were arbitrary tests to judge the worthiness of their tax payments. A chicken, for example, might be required to be able to jump over a fence of a given height to be considered old enough or well enough to be valued for tax purposes.
The restraints of serfdom on personal and economic choice were enforced through various forms of manorial customary law and the manorial administration and court baron. It was also a matter of discussion whether serfs could be required by law in times of war or conflict to fight for their lord's land and property.
In the case of their lord's defeat, their own fate might be uncertain, so the serf certainly had an interest in supporting his lord.
Rights Within his constraints, a serf had some freedoms. Though the common wisdom is that a serf owned "only his belly"—even his clothes were the property, in law, of his lord—a serf might still accumulate personal property and wealth, and some serfs became wealthier than their free neighbours, although this happened rarely.
A serf could grow what crop he saw fit on his lands, although a serf's taxes often had to be paid in wheat. The surplus he would sell at market. The landlord could not dispossess his serfs without legal cause and was supposed to protect them from the depredations of robbers or other lords, and he was expected to support them by charity in times of famine. Neither the German nor the Roman traditions were homogeneous, and throughout central and western Europe they differed according to the strength of the local often pre-Roman, Celtic institutions and the effectiveness of Romanization, on the one hand, and the distance of the new Germanic societies from their earlier, preinvasion habitats, on the other.
At the time of their encounter, both societies were in a state of transition. The late Roman or Romanized West was passing through the profound crisis of a disintegrating empire, a weakening of central power, and a dislocation of the bureaucratic state machinery; the economic breakdown was seen in the diminishing importance of cities as centers of administration and of specialized economic activities, in the process of devaluation, and in the slowing down of the money economy.
State and society were groping for new norms of existence. There remained the cohesion of families and of the newer and weaker village communities, which in time came to represent territorial units rather than strong kinship relations. The transition from tribal to state organization continued in the fifth and sixth centuries, but the lack of a competent administration combined with an extremely low level of literacy and restricted money circulation helped to weaken the traditional units; nowhere was a state structure able to take over and to fulfill its public duties.
The early medieval state, like that of the Frankish Merovingians end of the fifth to beginning of the eighth centurypresents, consequently, a juxtaposition of divergent elements of state and society hardly ever integrated into a coherent whole. From this point of view, the features associated with feudalism are the direct outcome of a society striving for patterns of organization and cohesion in a period of declining state power and the disruption of traditional kinship security groups.
The most striking feature of the developing system is the new stratification of society. Roman social hierarchy was far more polarized than that of the Germanic tribes. The latter, although not egalitarian, as some nineteenth-century historians claimed, was basically a society of free men with a charismatic and hereditary chieftainship.
The new administrative and military needs had already singled out the royal Merovingian entourage of warriors and officials and had sanctioned their standing by a higher Wergeld. At the beginning of the eighth century, however, the permanent need for professional, highly trained military men mounted warriors brought about a radical change in society. The former peasant-warrior lost his military value. Private bands of warriors, a phenomenon that had its antecedents as much in the imperial bodyguard and in the private armies of the Roman senatorial class as in the ancient Germanic followers Gefolgschaft of the chieftain, sprang up around the king and local magnates.
Beginning in the early Carolingian period eighth centurythe new institution was integrated into the framework of state and society until it became official, recognized and sanctioned in public law and put to the service of the state. With the tremendous expansion of the empire of Charles the Great and for two centuries thereafter, vassalage as a type of social cohesion became the normal way of assuring not only military service but also public authority.
Although the ancient oath of fealty of subjects to the ruler remained, it was felt that it did not sufficiently assure either loyalty or political allegiance. Consequently, an oath of vassalage, more binding and directly linked with the ruler, was demanded from appointed officials. The heads of military and administrative circumscriptions—dukes, marquis, and counts—became vassals of the king. This new type of relation, which abandoned the charismatic character of the earlier period, was based mainly on the notions of fealty and absolute loyalty, strengthened by the religious element inherent in the oath itself, and it bound the contracting parties in a contractual relation.
The principles of vassalic relations, first applied at the highest state level, spread rapidly to the lower rungs of the social ladder.
Feudalism | badz.info
Magnates and royal officials assured their own standing and the performance of the services of their office by contracting vassals, and the same process continued downward to the simple warrior and local administrative officer. Thus, a pyramidal structure of bonds and dependencies arose, a scaffold of state structure and state machinery, the apex of which, ideally, was the king.
Economic and social relations. The economic premises of the new social order were rooted in early medieval economy and grew out of the same social changes that made vassalic relations possible. The weakening of the Sippe not only created insecurity but also changed the economic bases of existence. The village community, far weaker than the Sippe organization, could not offer adequate security, and social cohesion took the new form of individuals seeking the protection of the powerful man in their vicinity, drawing both on the patronclient pattern of the Roman tradition and on the Germanic notion of Grundherr, the rich and strong proprietor, whose influence transcended the boundaries of his property and his direct dependents.
Such proprietors included ecclesiastical institutions as well as secular lords. Conversely, they received the protection of the establishment or the lay lord. This protection against outside fiscal, administrative, military, or juridical pressures not only made the peasant economically dependent but also initiated the process through which he lost his standing as free man and citizen. His dealings with state authority were henceforth channeled through his overlord. In this sense, the king, who combined competences of state sovereignty often theoretical in the ninth and tenth centuries and vassalic suzerainty, lost his subjects, whom he could reach only through the mediation of their overlords.
The material basis of the vassalic contract was the fief. A seigniory might comprise anything from a single village to a large complex of villages. It was the degree of public authority and the degree of immunity from the interference of an overlord which differentiated it from a simple fief and fixed its place in the hierarchy of fiefs in the kingdom.
Public power became an object of inheritance, since it accompanied the inheritance of the fiefs and seigniories. At the bottom of the feudal ladder was the simple knight who owed to the overlord his own service and was supported by a fief just large enough to assure him a living in keeping with the standards of his class.
Such a fief could coincide with a village or part of it, and its economic organization was usually described as a manorial economy. The lord of the manor also had noneconomic rights over the tenants on his manor, the most characteristic being the rights of jurisdiction deriving from land tenure. The movement of commendation, common to all strata of society, brought about a complete transformation of its social stratification and cohesion and, finally, of the concepts of the state and its authority.
Thousands of links of dependence ran from the apex to the lowest echelons of society. Their scope, meaning, and aim changed from step to step. Whereas in higher echelons commendation created a professional caste of warriors soon to become the nobility, in the lower echelons it created a class of people serving the lords in different capacities. As long as the service was basically military, the link of commendation created vassalage, which had come to be regarded as the only condition fitting a free man.
Lower down, commendation created serfdom of varying degrees, but always connoting economic dependence, social degradation, and exclusion from the community of free men and subjects.
The hierarchic principle of cohesion and dependence was sustained economically by the legal hierarchy of land and by the fixed relation of men to land. Only where feudalization did not penetrate the depth of society were there free communities, direct subjects of royalty, and allodial entirely independent property.
Ireland and Scotland preserved clannish cohesion; Frisia preserved independent communities; in Saxony and parts of Spain there were free men; and German nobility kept allodial property late into the twelfth century.
In all other territories all land except the royal domain had the legal status of tenure or dependent possession. The peasants themselves held their land as servile tenures astricted as to payments and services, which varied widely according to the type of servile tenure. But it is a striking feature of the system that the obligations of the peasant were those deriving from his own legal status and that of the land he held. The theoretical symmetry between the status of a man and that of his holding was soon destroyed by marriage and inheritance.
Stabilization of the system. Around the major features of feudalism began to stabilize and integrate into a coherent politico-economic system.
Yet, complete integration was never achieved. Rights of possession, economic privileges, and public authority often remained undefined, consequently competing and overlapping. Starting in the second half of the twelfth century, political theoreticians with legal training tried to describe the institutions of government and society as forming a logical whole. One of the stabilizing factors was the general rule linking vassalage with fiefs and their regular, hereditary transmission.
Occurring on all levels of the feudal hierarchy, it assured a solid scaffold of social structure. Not only were the simple knight, his immediate overlord, and every lord up to the apex of the feudal hierarchy henceforth concerned with fiefs and seigniories, as pure vassalage links would have postulated, but the family as a whole became a major factor in the feudal mechanism.
On the upper level of the hierarchy, that of the great tenants-in-chief of the crown with quasi-state authority, it was the dynasty that counted. Below them, the traditional vassals of the dynasty were often regarded not only as members of the household maisnie but as a part of the noble lineage lignage.Serfs and manorialism - World History - Khan Academy
The relations between lords and vassals were often conceived in terms of family relations, and the competences of the lord were not unlike the Germanic mundeburdumor the Roman patria potestas. Rise of the nobility. In the twelfth century a two-hundred-year-old process of class formation came to an end, producing a class of nobility.
The old warrior class of the eighth century was by then a class pursuing the profession of arms, which assured it a privileged place in society and a major share in political power; moreover, it was a class which could transmit its economic, social, and political standing to its descendants, becoming, consequently, a hereditary nobility.
These developments proceeded at different rates in various regions. In Merovingian times 5th century tomonarchs would reward only the greatest and most trusted vassals with lands. Even at the most extreme devolution of any remnants of central power, in 10th-century France, the majority of vassals still had no fixed estates. An "upper" group comprised great territorial magnates, who were strong enough to ensure the inheritance of their benefice to the heirs of their family.
A "lower" group consisted of landless knights attached to a count or duke. This social settling process also received impetus in fundamental changes in the conduct of warfare. As co-ordinated cavalry superseded disorganized infantryarmies became more expensive to maintain.