Date: Title: The Feudal and Manorial System The Feudal System Knights like William Marshal did not exist at the beginning of the Middle Ages but began to emerge as the period progressed. Origins of Feudalism • Feudalism originated partly as result of Viking, Magyar, Muslim invasions • Kings unable to defend their lands, lands of their nobles • Nobles had to find way to defend own lands • Built castles, often on hills • Not elaborate structures; built of wood, used as place of shelter in case of attack Knights and Lords • Nobles needed trained soldiers to defend castles • Knights most important, highly skilled soldiers • Mounted knights in heavy armor best defenders • Being a knight expensive; had to maintain weapons, armor, horses • Knights demanded payment for services Fiefs and Vassals Knights were usually paid for their services with land • Land given to knight for service was called a fief – Anyone accepting fief was called a vassal – Person from whom he accepted fief was his lord • Historians call system of exchanging land for service the feudal system, or feudalism Feudal Obligations Oath of Fealty • Lords, vassals in feudal system had duties to fulfill to one another • Knight’s chief duty as vassal to provide military service to his lord • Had to promise to remain loyal; promise called oath of fealty Financial Obligations • Knight had certain financial obligations to lord • Knight obligated to pay ransom for lord’s release if captured in battle • Gave money to lord on special occasions, such as knighting of son Lord’s Obligations • Lord had to treat knights fairly, not demanding too much time, money • Had to protect knight if attacked by enemies • Had to act as judge in disputes between knights A Complicated System Lord and Vassal • Europe’s feudal system incredibly complex • Person could be both lord, vassal • Some knights with large fiefs gave small pieces of land to other knights, created many levels of obligations • One knight could serve many lords; no prohibition against knight accepting fiefs from more than one noble Fealty to King • Almost everyone in system served more than one lord • Theoretically, everyone supposed to be loyal to the king • In practice, not everyone loyal • Some powerful nobles as strong as kings they were supposed to serve, ignored duties as vassals • Feudal rules specific to time, place; could change over time; England’s rules not same as France’s rules The Manorial System The feudal system was a political and social system. A related system governed medieval economics. This system was called the manorial system because it was built around large estates called manors. Lords, Peasants, and Serfs Serfdom Free People • Manors owned by wealthy lords, knights • Most peasants on farm were serfs, tied to manor • Manors had some free people who rented land from lord • Peasants farmed manor fields • Not slaves, could not be sold away from manor • Were given protection, plots of land to cultivate for selves • But could not leave, marry without lord’s permission • Others included landowning peasants, skilled workers like blacksmiths, millers • Also had a priest for spiritual needs A Typical Manor • Most of manor’s land occupied by fields for crops, pastures for animals • Middle Ages farmers learned that leaving field empty for year improved soil • In time, practice developed into three-field crop rotation system Rotation • One field planted in spring for fall harvest • Another field planted in winter for spring harvest • Third field remained unplanted for year Small Village • Each manor included fortified house for noble family, village for peasants, serfs • Goal to make manor self-sufficient • Typical manor also included church, mill, blacksmith Daily Life in the Middle Ages Life in a Castle • Life in Middle Ages not easy, did not have comforts we have today • Early castles built for defense not comfort • Few windows, stuffy in summer, cold in winter, dark always Space • Nobles had to share space with others, including soldiers, servants • Private rooms very rare • Main room the hall, large room for dining, entertaining Bedrooms • In early castles, noble family bedrooms separated from main area by sheets • Later castles had separate bedrooms; latrines near bedrooms • Wooden bathtub outside in warm weather, inside near fireplace in winter Life in a Village Despite discomforts, life in a castle was preferable to life in a village. The typical village family lived in a small wooden one-room house. The roof was made of straw, the floor of dirt, and the furniture of rough wood. Open holes in the walls served as windows. Bedrooms Meals • Most families slept on beds of straw on floor • Peasant families cooked meals over open fire in middle of floor • All shared one room with each other, animals • Typical meal: brown bread, cheese, vegetables, occasionally meat • Most glad to have animals to provide extra heat in cold winters • No chimneys, house often full of smoke; fires common The family rose before dawn. Men went to work in the fields; women did chores. During harvest, the entire family worked in the field all day.