|Feudal land tenure in England|
A demesne ( /,- / di-MAYN, -MEEN) or domain was all the land retained and managed by a lord of the manor under the feudal system for his own use, occupation, or support. This distinguished it from land sub-enfeoffed by him to others as sub-tenants. The concept originated in the Kingdom of France and found its way to foreign lands influenced by it or its fiefdoms.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, royal demesne is the land held by the Crown, and ancient demesne is the legal term for the land held by the king at the time of the Domesday Book.
The word derives from Old French demeine, ultimately from Latin dominus, "lord, master of a household" – demesne is a variant of domaine.
The word barton, which is historically synonymous to demesne and is an element found in many place-names, can refer to a demesne farm: it derives from Old English bere (barley) and ton (enclosure).
The system of manorial land tenure, broadly termed feudalism, was conceived in France, but was exported to areas affected by Norman expansion during the Middle Ages, including the Kingdoms of England, Sicily, Jerusalem, Scotland, and Ireland.
In this feudal system, the demesne was all the land retained and managed by a lord of the manor for his own use and support. It was not necessarily all contiguous to the manor house. A portion of the demesne lands, called the lord's waste, served as public roads and common pasture land for the lord and his tenants.Most of the remainder of the land in the manor was sub-enfeoffed by the lord to others as sub-tenants.
Initially, the demesne lands were worked on the lord's behalf by villeins or by serfs, who had no right of tenure on it, in fulfilment of their feudal obligations, but as a money economy developed in the later Middle Ages, the serfs' corvée came to be commuted to money payments. With the advent of the early modern period, demesne lands came to be cultivated by paid labourers. Eventually, many of the demesne lands were leased out either on a perpetual (i.e., hereditary) or a temporary renewable basis so that many peasants functioned virtually as free proprietors after having paid their fixed rents. In times of inflation or debasement of coinage, the rent might come to represent a pittance, reducing the feudal aristocrat to poverty among a prosperous gentry.[ citation needed ]
Demesne lands that were leased out for a term of years remained demesne lands, though no longer in the occupation of the lord of the manor. See, for example, Musgrave v Inclosure Commissioners (1874) LR 9 QB 162, a case in which the three judges of the Queen's Bench Divisional Court and everyone else concerned assumed without argument that farms which were let by the lord of the manor were part of the lord's demesne land.
In Ireland, demesne lands were often demarcated with high stone walls.Today, 24 townlands in Ireland bear the name of "Demesne", and many others contain the word.
Immediately following the Norman Conquest of 1066, all land in England was claimed by King William the Conqueror as his absolute title by allodial right, being the commencement of the royal demesne, also known as Crown land. The king made grants of very large tracts of land under various forms of feudal tenure from his demesne, generally in the form of feudal baronies. The land not so enfeoffed, for example royal manors administered by royal stewards and royal hunting forests, thus remained within the royal demesne. In the Domesday Book of 1086, this land is referred to as terra regis (literally "the king's land"),and in English common law the term ancient demesne refers to the land that was held by the Crown at the time of the Domesday Book.
The royal demesne was not a static portfolio: it could be increased, for example, as a result of escheat or forfeiture where a feudal tenure would end and revert to its natural state in the royal demesne, or it could be reduced by later grants of land. During the reign of King George III (1760–1820), Parliament appropriated most of the royal demesne, in exchange for a fixed annual sum thenceforth payable to the monarch, called the Civil List. The position of the royal estate of Windsor, still occupied by the monarch and never alienated since 1066, may be a rare remnant of the royal demesne.[ citation needed ]
In the Lordship of Ireland, King Henry II claimed a large area as the royal demesne in 1171: Dublin, its hinterland, the coastline down to Arklow and the towns of Wexford and Waterford.This region around Dublin would evolve into the Pale.
Manorialism, also known as the manor system or manorial system, was the method of land ownership in parts of Europe, notably France and later England, during the Middle Ages. Its defining features included a large, sometimes fortified manor house in which the lord of the manor and his dependents lived and administered a rural estate, and a population of labourers who worked the surrounding land to support themselves and the lord. These labourers fulfilled their obligations with labour time or in-kind produce at first, and later by cash payment as commercial activity increased. Manorialism is sometimes included as part of the feudal system.
Domesday Book – the Middle English spelling of "Doomsday Book" – is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William I, known as William the Conqueror. The manuscript was originally known by the Latin name Liber de Wintonia, meaning "Book of Winchester", where it was originally kept in the royal treasury. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that in 1085 the king sent his agents to survey every shire in England, to list his holdings and dues owed to him.
Escheat is a common law doctrine that transfers the real property of a person who has died without heirs to the crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in "limbo" without recognized ownership. It originally applied to a number of situations where a legal interest in land was destroyed by operation of law, so that the ownership of the land reverted to the immediately superior feudal lord.
Lord of the Manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England, referred to the landholder of a rural estate. The lord enjoyed manorial rights as well as seignory, the right to grant or draw benefit from the estate. The title continues in modern England and Wales as a legally recognised form of property that can be held independently of its historical rights. It may belong entirely to one person or be a moiety shared with other people.
In medieval and early modern Europe, the term tenant-in-chief denoted a person who held his lands under various forms of feudal land tenure directly from the king or territorial prince to whom he did homage, as opposed to holding them from another nobleman or senior member of the clergy. The tenure was one which denoted great honour, but also carried heavy responsibilities. The tenants-in-chief were originally responsible for providing knights and soldiers for the king's feudal army.
Quia Emptores is a statute passed by the Parliament of England in 1290 during the reign of Edward I that prevented tenants from alienating their lands to others by subinfeudation, instead requiring all tenants who wished to alienate their land to do so by substitution. The statute, along with its companion statute Quo Warranto also passed in 1290, was intended to remedy land ownership disputes and consequent financial difficulties that had resulted from the decline of the traditional feudal system in England during the High Middle Ages. The name Quia Emptores derives from the first two words of the statute in its original mediaeval Latin, which can be translated as "because the buyers". Its long title is A Statute of our Lord The King, concerning the Selling and Buying of Land. It is also cited as the Statute of Westminster III, one of many English and British statutes with that title.
In the Middle Ages, especially under the European feudal system, feoffment or enfeoffment was the deed by which a person was given land in exchange for a pledge of service. This mechanism was later used to avoid restrictions on the passage of title in land by a system in which a landowner would give land to one person for the use of another. The common law of estates in land grew from this concept.
Knight-service was a form of feudal land tenure under which a knight held a fief or estate of land termed a knight's fee from an overlord conditional on him as tenant performing military service for his overlord.
An overlord in the English feudal system was a lord of a manor who had subinfeudated a particular manor, estate or fee, to a tenant. The tenant thenceforth owed to the overlord one of a variety of services, usually military service or serjeanty, depending on which form of tenure the estate was held under. The highest overlord of all, or paramount lord, was the monarch, who due to his ancestor William the Conqueror's personal conquest of the Kingdom of England, owned by inheritance from him all the land in England under allodial title and had no superior overlord, "holding from God and his sword", although certain monarchs, notably King John (1199–1216) purported to grant the Kingdom of England to Pope Innocent III, who would thus have become overlord to English monarchs.
A feudal baron is a vassal holding a heritable fief called a barony, comprising a specific portion of land, granted by an overlord in return for allegiance and service. Following the end of European feudalism, feudal baronies have largely been superseded by baronies held as a rank of nobility, without any attachment to a fief. However, in Scotland, the feudal dignity of baron remains in existence, and may be bought and sold independently of the land to which it was formerly attached.
The manorial courts were the lowest courts of law in England during the feudal period. They had a civil jurisdiction limited both in subject matter and geography. They dealt with matters over which the lord of the manor had jurisdiction, primarily torts, local contracts and land tenure, and their powers only extended to those who lived within the lands of the manor: the demesne and such lands as the lord had enfeoffed to others, and to those who held land therein. Historians have divided manorial courts into those that were primarily seignorial – based on feudal responsibilities – and those based on separate delegation of authority from the monarch. There were three types of manorial court: the court of the honour; the court baron; and the court customary, also known as the halmote court.
The history of English land law can be traced back to Roman times. Throughout the Early Middle Ages, where England came under rule of post-Roman chieftains and Saxon monarchs, land was the dominant source of personal wealth. English land law transformed further from the Saxon days, particularly during the post-Norman Invasion feudal encastellation and the Industrial Revolution. As the political power of the landed aristocracy diminished and modern legislation increasingly made land a social form of wealth, subject to extensive social regulation such as for housing, national parks, and agriculture.
Even before the Norman Conquest, there was a strong tradition of landholding in Anglo-Saxon law. When William the Conqueror asserted sovereignty over England in 1066, he confiscated the property of the recalcitrant English landowners. Over the next dozen years, he granted land to his lords and to the dispossessed Englishmen, or affirmed their existing land holdings, in exchange for fealty and promises of military and other services. At the time of the Domesday Book, all land in England was held by someone, and from that time there has been no allodial land in England. In order to legitimise the notion of the Crown's paramount lordship, a legal fiction—that all land titles were held by the King's subjects as a result of a royal grant—was adopted.
Taxation in medieval England was the system of raising money for royal and governmental expenses. During the Anglo-Saxon period, the main forms of taxation were land taxes, although custom duties and fees to mint coins were also imposed. The most important tax of the late Anglo-Saxon period was the geld, a land tax first regularly collected in 1012 to pay for mercenaries. After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, the geld continued to be collected until 1162, but it was eventually replaced with taxes on personal property and income.
In the kingdom of England, a feudal barony or barony by tenure was the highest degree of feudal land tenure, namely per baroniam, under which the land-holder owed the service of being one of the king's barons. The duties owed by and the privileges granted to feudal barons are not exactly defined, but they involved the duty of providing soldiers to the royal feudal army on demand by the king, and the privilege of attendance at the king's feudal court, the precursor of parliament.
Turstin fitz Rolf, also known as Turstin le Blanc and Tustein fitz Rou played a prominent role in the Norman conquest of England and is regarded as one of the few proven companions of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Feudalism as practiced in the Kingdoms of England during the medieval period was a state of human society that organized political and military leadership and force around a stratified formal structure based on land tenure. As a military defense and socio-economic paradigm designed to direct the wealth of the land to the king while it levied military troops to his causes, feudal society was ordered around relationships derived from the holding of land. Such landholdings are termed fiefdoms, traders, fiefs, or fees.
An Inquisition post mortem is an English medieval or early modern record of the death, estate and heir of one of the king's tenants-in-chief, made for royal fiscal purposes. The process of making such inquisition was effected by the royal escheators in each county where the deceased held land. The earliest inq.p.m. was made in 1236, in the reign of King Henry III (1216–1272), and the practice ceased c.1640, at the start of the English Civil War, and was finally abolished by the Tenures Abolition Act 1660, which ended the feudal system.
Walter de Lacy was a Norman nobleman who went to England after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. He received lands in Herefordshire and Shropshire, and served King William I of England by leading military forces during 1075. He died in 1085 and one son inherited his lands. Another son became an abbot.
Robert Bastard (fl.1086) was a Norman warrior who assisted in the 1066 Norman Conquest of England under King William the Conqueror. He was subsequently rewarded with landholdings in Devonshire and is one of the Devon Domesday Book tenants-in-chief of that monarch, with a holding of 10 manors or estates held in chief, 8 of which he held in demesne, i.e. under his own management without tenants. He had at least one further holding as a mesne tenant, at Goosewell, Plymstock parish, Plympton hundred, held from William of Poilley, a Norman tenant-in-chief from Poilley in Normandy, most of whose 21 landholdings were later granted by King Henry I (1100–1135) to his trusted supporter Richard de Redvers, feudal baron of Plympton in Devon.