Manorialism

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Ploughing on a French ducal manor in March
Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, c.1410 Les Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry mars.jpg
Ploughing on a French ducal manor in March
Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry , c.1410

Manorialism, also known as the manor system or manorial system, [1] [2] was the method of land ownership (or "tenure") in parts of Europe, notably England, during the Middle Ages. [3] 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 in the definition of feudalism.

Contents

Manorialism originated in the Roman villa system of the Late Roman Empire, [4] and was widely practiced in medieval western and parts of central Europe. An essential element of feudal society, [5] manorialism was slowly replaced by the advent of a money-based market economy and new forms of agrarian contract.

In examining the origins of the monastic cloister, Walter Horn found that "as a manorial entity the Carolingian monastery  ... differed little from the fabric of a feudal estate, save that the corporate community of men for whose sustenance this organisation was maintained consisted of monks who served God in chant and spent much of their time in reading and writing." [6]

Manorialism died slowly and piecemeal, along with its most vivid feature in the landscape, the open field system. It outlasted serfdom in the sense that it continued with freehold labourers. As an economic system, it outlasted feudalism, according to Andrew Jones, because "it could maintain a warrior, but it could equally well maintain a capitalist landlord. It could be self-sufficient, yield produce for the market, or it could yield a money rent." [7] The last feudal dues in France were abolished at the French Revolution. In parts of eastern Germany, the Rittergut manors of Junkers remained until World War II. [8] In Quebec, the last feudal rents were paid in 1970 under the modified provisions of the Seigniorial Dues Abolition Act of 1935.

Historical and geographical distribution

The great hall at Penshurst Place, Kent, built in the mid 14th century. The hall was of central importance to every manor, being the place where the lord and his family ate, received guests, and conferred with dependents. The Hall at Penshurst Place from Ancestral Homes of Noted Americans by Anne Hollingsworth Wharton (1915).jpg
The great hall at Penshurst Place, Kent, built in the mid 14th century. The hall was of central importance to every manor, being the place where the lord and his family ate, received guests, and conferred with dependents.

The term is most often used with reference to medieval Western Europe. Antecedents of the system can be traced to the rural economy of the later Roman Empire (Dominate). With a declining birthrate and population, labour was the key factor of production. [9] Successive administrations tried to stabilise the imperial economy by freezing the social structure into place: sons were to succeed their fathers in their trade, councilors were forbidden to resign, and coloni , the cultivators of land, were not to move from the land they were attached to. The workers of the land were on their way to becoming serfs. [10]

Several factors conspired to merge the status of former slaves and former free farmers into a dependent class of such coloni: it was possible to be described as servus et colonus, "both slave and colonus". [11] The Laws of Constantine I around 325 both reinforced the semi-servile status of the coloni and limited their rights to sue in the courts; the Codex Theodosianus promulgated under Theodosius II extended these restrictions. The legal status of adscripti, "bound to the soil", [12] contrasted with barbarian foederati, who were permitted to settle within the imperial boundaries, remaining subject to their own traditional law.

As the Germanic kingdoms succeeded Roman authority in the West in the fifth century, Roman landlords were often simply replaced by Germanic ones, with little change to the underlying situation or displacement of populations.

The process of rural self-sufficiency was given an abrupt boost in the eighth century, when normal trade in the Mediterranean Sea was disrupted. The thesis put forward by Henri Pirenne supposes that the Arab conquests forced the medieval economy into even greater ruralisation and gave rise to the classic feudal pattern of varying degrees of servile peasantry underpinning a hierarchy of localised power centers.[ citation needed ]

Description

Reconstruction of a medieval castle, Bachritterburg, Baden-Wurttemberg Bachritterburg.jpg
Reconstruction of a medieval castle, Bachritterburg, Baden-Württemberg

The word derives from traditional inherited divisions of the countryside, reassigned as local jurisdictions known as manors or seigneuries; each manor being subject to a lord (French seigneur), usually holding his position in return for undertakings offered to a higher lord (see Feudalism). The lord held a manorial court, governed by public law and local custom. Not all territorial seigneurs were secular; bishops and abbots also held lands that entailed similar obligations.

By extension, the word manor is sometimes used in England to mean any home area or territory in which authority is held, often in a police or criminal context. [13] [14]

In the generic plan of a medieval manor [15] from Shepherd's Historical Atlas, [16] the strips of individually worked land in the open field system are immediately apparent. In this plan, the manor house is set slightly apart from the village, but equally often the village grew up around the forecourt of the manor, formerly walled, while the manor lands stretched away outside, as still may be seen at Petworth House. As concerns for privacy[ dubious ] increased in the 18th century,[ citation needed ] manor houses were often located a farther distance from the village. For example, when a grand new house was required by the new owner of Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire, in the 1830s, the site of the existing manor house at the edge of its village was abandoned for a new one, isolated in its park, with the village out of view.[ citation needed ]

In an agrarian society, the conditions of land tenure underlie all social or economic factors. There were two legal systems of pre-manorial landholding. One, the most common, was the system of holding land "allodially" in full outright ownership. The other was a use of precaria or benefices, in which land was held conditionally (the root of the English word "precarious").

To these two systems, the Carolingian monarchs added a third, the aprisio, which linked manorialism with feudalism. The aprisio made its first appearance in Charlemagne's province of Septimania in the south of France, when Charlemagne had to settle the Visigothic refugees who had fled with his retreating forces after the failure of his Zaragoza expedition of 778. He solved this problem by allotting "desert" tracts of uncultivated land belonging to the royal fisc under direct control of the emperor. These holdings aprisio entailed specific conditions. The earliest specific aprisio grant that has been identified was at Fontjoncouse, near Narbonne (see Lewis, links). In former Roman settlements, a system of villas, dating from Late Antiquity, was inherited by the medieval world.

The seigneur

The possessor of a seigneurie bears the title of "Lord" . He can be an individual, in the vast majority of cases a national of the nobility or of the Bourgeoisie, but also a judicial person most often an ecclesiastical institution such as an abbey, a cathedral or canonical chapter or a military order. The power of the lord was exercised through various intermediaries, the most important of which was the bailiff. The sovereign can also be a lord; the seigneuries he owns form the royal domain.

The title of lord is also granted, especially in modern times, to individuals holding noble fiefdoms which are not for all that seigneuries. These "lords" are sometimes called sieurs, equivalent terms in medieval times.

The land lordship

The lord is the direct or prominent owner of the land assets of his lordship. The notion of absolute ownership over a common good cannot be applied, because there are also others than the main user who have rights over these goods. We[ who? ] distinguish in the land lordship two sets the reserves which is the set of goods of which the lord reserves the direct exploitation and tenant-in-chief, property whose exploitation is entrusted to a tenant against payment of a royalty, most often called cens and services such as Corvée. The distribution between reserve and tenure varies depending on the period and region. [17]

Common features

Generic map of a medieval manor.
The mustard-colored areas are part of the demesne, the hatched areas part of the glebe.
William R. Shepherd, Historical Atlas, 1923 Plan mediaeval manor.jpg
Generic map of a medieval manor.
The mustard-colored areas are part of the demesne , the hatched areas part of the glebe .
William R. Shepherd, Historical Atlas, 1923

Manors each consisted of up to three classes of land:

  1. Demesne , the part directly controlled by the lord and used for the benefit of his household and dependents;
  2. Dependent ( serf or villein ) holdings carrying the obligation that the peasant household supply the lord with specified labour services or a part of its output (or cash in lieu thereof), subject to the custom attached to the holding; and
  3. Free peasant land, without such obligation but otherwise subject to manorial jurisdiction and custom, and owing money rent fixed at the time of the lease.

Additional sources of income for the lord included charges for use of his mill, bakery or wine-press, or for the right to hunt or to let pigs feed in his woodland, as well as court revenues and single payments on each change of tenant. On the other side of the account, manorial administration involved significant expenses, perhaps a reason why smaller manors tended to rely less on villein tenure.[ original research? ]

Dependent holdings were held nominally by arrangement of lord and tenant, but tenure became in practice almost universally hereditary, with a payment made to the lord on each succession of another member of the family. Villein land could not be abandoned, at least until demographic and economic circumstances made flight a viable proposition; nor could they be passed to a third party without the lord's permission, and the customary payment.

Although not free, villeins were by no means in the same position as slaves: they enjoyed legal rights, subject to local custom, and had recourse to the law subject to court charges, which were an additional source of manorial income. Sub-letting of villein holdings was common, and labour on the demesne might be commuted into an additional money payment, as happened increasingly from the 13th century.

Land which was neither let to tenants nor formed part of demesne lands was known as "manorial waste"; typically, this included hedges, verges, etc. [18] Common land where all members of the community had right of passage was known as "lord's waste". Part of the demesne land of the manor which being uncultivated was termed the Lord's Waste and served for public roads and for common pasture to the lord and his tenants. [19] [20] In many settlements during the early modern period, illegal building was carried out on lord's waste land by squatters who would then plead their case to remain with local support. An example of a lord's waste settlement, where the main centres grew up in this way, is the village of Bredfield in Suffolk. [21] Lord's waste continues to be a source of rights and responsibilities issues in places such as Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire. [22]

Residents of a manor

Tenants

Tenants owned land on the manor under one of several legal agreements: freehold, copyhold, customary freehold and leasehold. [23]

Variation among manors

Like feudalism which, together with manorialism, formed the legal and organisational framework of feudal society, manorial structures were not uniform or coordinated. In the later Middle Ages, areas of incomplete or non-existent manorialisation persisted while the manorial economy underwent substantial development with changing economic conditions.

Not all manors contained all three classes of land. Typically, demesne accounted for roughly a third of the arable area, and villein holdings rather more; but some manors consisted solely of demesne, others solely of peasant holdings. The proportion of unfree and free tenures could likewise vary greatly, with more or less reliance on wage labour for agricultural work on the demesne.

The proportion of the cultivated area in demesne tended to be greater in smaller manors, while the share of villein land was greater in large manors, providing the lord of the latter with a larger supply of obligatory labour for demesne work. The proportion of free tenements was generally less variable, but tended to be somewhat greater on the smaller manors.

Manors varied similarly in their geographical arrangement: most did not coincide with a single village, but rather consisted of parts of two or more villages, most of the latter containing also parts of at least one other manor. This situation sometimes led to replacement by cash payments or their equivalents in kind of the demesne labour obligations of those peasants living furthest from the lord's estate.

As with peasant plots, the demesne was not a single territorial unit, but consisted rather of a central house with neighbouring land and estate buildings, plus strips dispersed through the manor alongside free and villein ones: in addition, the lord might lease free tenements belonging to neighbouring manors, as well as holding other manors some distance away to provide a greater range of produce.

Nor were manors held necessarily by lay lords rendering military service (or again, cash in lieu) to their superior: a substantial share (estimated by value at 17% in England in 1086) belonged directly to the king, and a greater proportion (rather more than a quarter) were held by bishoprics and monasteries. Ecclesiastical manors tended to be larger, with a significantly greater villein area than neighbouring lay manors.[ citation needed ]

The effect of circumstances on manorial economy is complex and at times contradictory: upland conditions tended to preserve peasant freedoms (livestock husbandry in particular being less labour-intensive and therefore less demanding of villein services); on the other hand, some upland areas of Europe showed some of the most oppressive manorial conditions, while lowland eastern England is credited with an exceptionally large free peasantry, in part a legacy of Scandinavian settlement.

Similarly, the spread of money economy stimulated the replacement of labour services by money payments, but the growth of the money supply and resulting inflation after 1170 initially led nobles to take back leased estates and to re-impose labour dues as the value of fixed cash payments declined in real terms.[ citation needed ]

See also

General

Specific

Related Research Articles

Feudalism Combination of legal and military customs and form of government in medieval Europe

Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, is a historiographical term used to describe the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships that were derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labor. Although it is derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), which was used during the Medieval period, the term feudalism and the system which it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people who lived during the Middle Ages. The classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations which existed among the warrior nobility and revolved around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.

Copyhold

Copyhold tenure was a form of customary tenure of land common in England from the Middle Ages. The land was held according to the custom of the manor, and the mode of landholding took its name from the fact that the "title deed" received by the tenant was a copy of the relevant entry in the manorial court roll. A tenant – or mesne lord – who held land in this way was legally known as a copyholder.

Serfdom Status of peasants under feudalism

Serfdom was the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism, and similar systems. It was a condition of debt bondage and indentured servitude with similarities to and differences from slavery, which developed during the Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages in Europe and lasted in some countries until the mid-19th century.

Fief Central element of feudalism

A fief was the central element of feudalism. It consisted of heritable property or rights granted by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the personal ceremonies of homage and fealty. The fees were often lands or revenue-producing real property held in feudal land tenure: these are typically known as fiefs or fiefdoms. However, not only land but anything of value could be held in fee, including governmental office, rights of exploitation such as hunting or fishing, monopolies in trade, and tax farms.

Open-field system

The open-field system was the prevalent agricultural system in much of Europe during the Middle Ages and lasted into the 20th century in Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Under the open-field system, each manor or village had two or three large fields, usually several hundred acres each, which were divided into many narrow strips of land. The strips or selions were cultivated by individuals or peasant families, often called tenants or serfs. The holdings of a manor also included woodland and pasture areas for common usage and fields belonging to the lord of the manor and the religious authorities, usually Roman Catholics in medieval Western Europe. The farmers customarily lived in individual houses in a nucleated village with a much larger manor house and church nearby. The open-field system necessitated co-operation among the inhabitants of the manor.

Seigneurial system of New France semi-feudal manor system of French Canada

The manorial system of New France, known as the seigneurial system, was the semi-feudal system of land tenure used in the North American French colonial empire.

Vassal Person aligned with a lord or monarch

A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch, in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support by knights in exchange for certain privileges, usually including land held as a tenant or fief. The term is also applied to similar arrangements in other feudal societies.

Lord of the manor

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 remainder. 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.

Many countries used the feudal system

Knights fee

In feudal Anglo-Norman England and Ireland, a knight's fee was a unit measure of land deemed sufficient to support a knight. Of necessity, it would not only provide sustenance for himself, his family, esquires and servants, but also the means to furnish himself and his retinue with horses and armour to fight for his overlord in battle. It was effectively the size of a fee sufficient to support one knight in the ongoing performance of his feudal duties (knight-service). A knight's fee cannot be stated as a standard number of acres as the required acreage to produce a given crop or revenue would vary depending on many factors, including its location, the richness of its soil and the local climate, as well as the presence of other exploitable resources such as fish-weirs, quarries of rock or mines of minerals. If a knight's fee is deemed co-terminous with a manor, an average size would be between 1,000 and 5,000 acres, of which much in early times was still "waste", forest and uncultivated moorland.

Tenant-in-chief Medieval term for an landholder who held his land directly from the king

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.

Demesne Type of property

A demesne 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.

Reeve (England)

Originally in Anglo-Saxon England the reeve was a senior official with local responsibilities under the Crown, e.g., as the chief magistrate of a town or district. Subsequently, after the Norman conquest, it was an office held by a man of lower rank, appointed as manager of a manor and overseer of the peasants. In this later role, historian H. R. Loyn observes, "he is the earliest English specialist in estate management."

Banalités were, until the 18th century, restrictions in feudal tenure in France by an obligation to have peasants use the facilities of their lords. These included the required use-for-payment of the lord's mill to grind grain, his wine press to make wine, and his oven to bake bread. Both the manorial lord's right to these dues and the banality-dues themselves are called droit de banalité. The object of this right was qualified as banal, e.g. the four banal or taureau banal.

Manorial court

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.

Villein

A villein, otherwise known as cottar or crofter, is a serf tied to the land in the feudal system. Villeins had more rights and social status than those in slavery, but were under a number of legal restrictions which differentiated them from the freeman.

The history of English land law can be traced for eons, into Roman times, and through the Early Middle Ages under post-Roman chieftains and Saxon monarchs where, as for most of human history, land was the dominant source of personal wealth. English land law transformed further from the Saxon days, to post-Norman Invasion feudal encastellation, from the Industrial Revolution and over the 19th century, 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.

Feudalism in England

Feudalism as practiced in the Kingdom 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.

History of serfdom

Like slavery, serfdom has a long history that dates to ancient times.

Feudal duties were the set of reciprocal financial, military and legal obligations among the warrior nobility in a feudal system. These duties developed in both Europe and Japan with the decentralisation of empire and due to lack of monetary liquidity, as groups of warriors took over the social, political, judicial, and economic spheres of the territory they controlled. While many feudal duties were based upon control of a parcel of land and its productive resources, even landless knights owed feudal duties such as direct military service in their lord's behest. Feudal duties were not uniform over time or across political boundaries. And in their later development also included duties from and to the peasant population, such as abergement.

References

  1. "The Manor System". studentsofhistory.com.
  2. "Manorialism Definition". worldhistory.org.
  3. Ian John Ernest Keil. "Manorial System". encyclopedia.com. Oxford University Press.
  4. Peter Sarris, "The Origins of the Manorial Economy: New Insights from Late Antiquity", The English Historical Review119 (April 2004:279–311).
  5. "Feudal Society", in its modern sense was coined in Marc Bloch's 1939–40 books of the same name. Bloch (Feudal Society tr. L.A. Masnyon, 1965, vol. II p. 442) emphasised the distinction between economic manorialism which preceded feudalism and survived it, and political and social feudalism, or seigneurialism.
  6. Horn, "On the Origins of the Medieval Cloister" Gesta 12.1/2 (1973:13–52), quote p. 41.
  7. Andrew Jones, "The Rise and Fall of the Manorial System: A Critical Comment" The Journal of Economic History32.4 (December 1972:938–944) p. 938; a comment on D. North and R. Thomas, "The rise and fall of the manorial system: a theoretical model", The Journal of Economic History31 (December 1971:777–803).
  8. Hartwin Spenkuch, "Herrenhaus und Rittergut: Die Erste Kammer des Landtags und der preußische Adel von 1854 bis 1918 aus sozialgeschichtlicher Sicht" Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 25.3 (July – September 1999):375–403).
  9. Donald J. Herreld, (2016) An Economic History of the World Since 1400. The Great Courses. P. 20.
  10. C.R. Whittaker, "Circe's pigs: from slavery to serfdom in the later Roman world", Slavery and Abolition8 (1987:87–122.
  11. Averil Cameron, The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity AD 395–600, 1993:86.
  12. Cameron 1993:86 instances Codex Justinianus XI. 48.21.1; 50,2.3; 52.1.1.
  13. Payne, Stewart (2007-08-03). "Terror raids on homes of uranium ex-employee". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-08. Retrieved 2009-04-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. "Plan of Medieval Manor by William R. Shepherd". Lib.utexas.edu. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  16. Shepherd, William R. "Historical Atlas". Perry–Castañeda Map Collection – UT Library Online.
  17. corvée noun
  18. John Cordle (12 July 1966). "Manorial Wastes". api.parliament.uk. Hansard.
  19. Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed., 1990, quoted at http://www.henleynews.co.uk/history/LordsWaste.pdf.
  20. See Bredfield Parish Plan 2006, p.9: "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2009-06-27.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. Angus Winchester and Eleanor Straughton. "What is a Manor?". lancaster.ac.uk.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)