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Encyclopedia > Manorialism
This article is about the medieval system. "Manors" redirects here.
For the 17th century system in Canada, see Seigneurial system of New France.
For the railway station in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, see Manors railway station.
Generic plan of a mediaeval manor; open-field strip farming, some enclosures, triennial crop rotation, demesne and manse, common woodland, pasturage and meadow
Generic plan of a mediaeval manor; open-field strip farming, some enclosures, triennial crop rotation, demesne and manse, common woodland, pasturage and meadow

Manorialism or Seigneurialism is the organization of rural economy and society in medieval western and parts of central Europe, characterised by the vesting of legal and economic power in a lord supported economically from his own direct landholding and from the obligatory contributions of a legally subject part of the peasant population under his jurisdiction. These obligations could be payable in labor (the French term corvée is conventionally applied), produce ("in kind") or, rarely, money. Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... The seigneurial system of New France was the semi-feudal system of land distribution used in the colonies of New France. ... This article is about a city in the United Kingdom. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... Manors railway station is located in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. ... Download high resolution version (1458x2154, 626 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Download high resolution version (1458x2154, 626 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Satellite image of circular crop fields in Haskell County, Kansas in late June 2001. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The rectory is the title usually given to the building inhabited, or formerly inhabited, by the vicar of a parish. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... Corvée, or corvée labor, is a term used in feudal societies. ...


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 manor court governed by public law and local custom. Not all territorial seigneurs were secular: bishops and abbots held lands that entailed similar obligations. The title of Lord of the Manor arose in the English medieval system of Manorialism following the Norman Conquest. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ...


In the generic plan of a medieval manor from Shepherd's Historical Atlas (illustration, right) 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 increased in the 18th century, manor houses were often located a farther distance from the village. 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. For other uses, see Open-field (disambiguation) The open field system was the prevalent agricultural system in Europe from the Middle Ages to as recently as the 20th century in places. ... Ightham Mote For the London district, see Manor House, London. ... A distant view of Petworth House across the lake in Petworth Park by JMW Turner. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...


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, (giving us our 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 Saragossa 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). Allodial land, or allodium, is literally land which has no lord. ... Originally a benefice was a gift of land for life as a reward (Latin beneficium, means to do well) for services rendered. ... Also see: France in the Middle Ages. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... Charlemagne (left) and Pippin the Hunchback. ... Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigothic kingdom in 462, when Septimania was ceded to Theodoric II, king of the Visigoths. ... A votive crown belonging to Reccesuinth (653–672) The Visigoths (Latin: ) were one of two main branches of the Goths, an East Germanic tribe, the Ostrogoths being the other. ... For alternative meanings, see Zaragoza (disambiguation). ... Events Charlemagne fights the Moors in Spain. ... Under the Merovingians and Carolingians, the fisc (Root word of fiscal) applied to the royal demesne which paid taxes, entirely in kind, from which the royal household was meant to be supported, though it rarely was. ... Narbonne (Narbona in Catalan and in Occitan, commonly Narbo especially when referring to the Ancient Rome era) is a town and commune of southwestern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon région. ...


In former Roman settlements, a system of villas dating from Late Antiquity was inherited by the medieval world. A villa was originally a Roman country house built for the upper class. ...

Contents

Common features

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 from 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. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Costumes of Slaves or Serfs, from the Sixth to the Twelfth Centuries, collected by H. de Vielcastel, from original Documents in the great Libraries of Europe. ... A villein is, in the feudal system, a member of the class of serfs tied to the land, distinguished from those in actual slavery, but restricted by law from exercising the rights of a free man. ...


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.


Though 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. (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ...


This description of a manor house at Chingford, Essex in England was recorded in a document for the Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral when it was granted to Robert Le Moyne in 1265: Chingford is a town in London Borough of Waltham Forest. ... This article is about the cathedral church of the diocese of London. ... For broader historical context, see 1260s and 13th century. ...

He received also a sufficient and handsome hall well ceiled with oak. On the western side is a worthy bed, on the ground, a stone chimney, a wardrobe and a certain other small chamber; at the eastern end is a pantry and a buttery. Between the hall and the chapel is a sideroom. There is a decent chapel covered with tiles, a portable altar, and a small cross. In the hall are four tables on trestles. There are likewise a good kitchen covered with tiles, with a furnace and ovens, one large, the other small, for cakes, two tables, and alongside the kitchen a small house for baking. Also a new granary covered with oak shingles, and a building in which the dairy is contained, though it is divided. Likewise a chamber suited for clergymen and a necessary chamber. Also a hen-house. These are within the inner gate. Likewise outside of that gate are an old house for the servants, a good table, long and divided, and to the east of the principal building, beyond the smaller stable, a solar for the use of the servants. Also a building in which is contained a bed, also two barns, one for wheat and one for oats. These buildings are enclosed with a moat, a wall, and a hedge. Also beyond the middle gate is a good barn, and a stable of cows, and another for oxen, these old and ruinous. Also beyond the outer gate is a pigstye.
From J.H. Robinson, trans., University of Pennsylvania Translations and Reprints (1897) in Middle Ages, Volume I: pp283–284.

Variation among manors

Like feudalism which, together with manorialism, forms the legal and organisational framework of what is often termed feudal society, manorial structures were not uniform among societies exhibiting such characteristics. In the later Middle Ages, areas of incomplete or non-existent manorialisation persisted while the manorial economy underwent substantial development with changing economic conditions. Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... Peasants plowing in front of a castle, French manuscript c. ...


Not all manors contained all three kinds of land: as an average, 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, necessitating greater or lesser reliance on wage labour for the performance of 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 potential 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 of the demesne labour obligations of those peasants living furthest from the lord's estate.


As was the case 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. A line drawing entitled Domesday Book from Andrew Williamss Historic Byways and Highways of Old England. ... In some Christian churches, the diocese is an administrative territorial unit governed by a bishop, sometimes also referred to as a bishopric or episcopal see, though more often the term episcopal see means the office held by the bishop. ... Monastery of St. ... This article should be transwikied to wiktionary Ecclesiastical means pertaining to the Church (especially Christianity) as an organized body of believers and clergy, with a stress on its juridical and institutional structure. ...


The effect of circumstances on manorial economy is complex and at times contradictory: upland conditions have been seen as tending to preserve peasant freedoms (livestock husbandry in particular being less labour-intensive and therefore less demanding of villein services); on the other hand, some such areas of Europe have been said to show 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 is often seen as having 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. December 29: Assassination of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in Canterbury cathedral City of Dublin captured by the Normans According to folklore, the Welsh prince Madoc sailed to North America and founded a colony. ...


Historical development and geographical distribution

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. With a declining birthrate and population, labor was the key factor of production. Successive administrations tried to stabilise the imperial economy by freezing the social structure into place: sons were to succeed their fathers in their trade. For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation). ...


Councillors were forbidden to resign, and coloni, the cultivators of land, were not to move from the demesne they were attached to. They were on their way to becoming serfs. Several factors conspired to merge the status of former slaves and former free farmers into a dependent class of such coloni. Laws of Constantine I around 325 reinforced both the negative semi-servile status of the coloni and limited their rights to sue in the courts. Their numbers were augmented by barbarian foederati who were permitted to settle within the imperial boundaries. Costumes of Slaves or Serfs, from the Sixth to the Twelfth Centuries, collected by H. de Vielcastel, from original Documents in the great Libraries of Europe. ... Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus[2] (27 February c. ... Events May 20 - First Council of Nicaea - first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church: The Nicene Creed is formulated, the date of Easter is discussed. ...


As the Germanic kingdoms succeeded Roman authority in the West in the fifth century, Roman landlords were often simply replaced by Gothic or Germanic ones, with little change to the underlying situation. 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, disputed by many, 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 centres. Europe in 450 The 5th century is the period from 401 to 500 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ... (7th century — 8th century — 9th century — other centuries) Events The Iberian peninsula is taken by Arab and Berber Muslims, thus ending the Visigothic rule, and starting almost 8 centuries of Muslim presence there. ... Mediterranean redirects here. ... Henri Pirenne (December 23, 1862, Verviers - October 25, 1935, Uccle) was a leading Belgian historian. ... For other uses, see Arab (disambiguation). ...


See also

Allodial title is a concept in some systems of property law. ... The seigneurial system of New France was the semi-feudal system of land distribution used in the colonies of New France. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ...

External links

  • Estonian Manors Portal - the English version gives the overview of 438 best preserved historical manors in Estonia
  • Medieval manors and their records Specific to the British Isles.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Lecture 22: European Agrarian Society: Manorialism (1490 words)
Before we turn our attention to serfdom or manorialism, it is necessary to highlight a few technological achievements of the period, roughly 500-1000.
The manorial village was never completely self-sufficient because salt, millstones or perhaps metalware were not available and had to be obtained from outside sources.
Manorialism and feudalism presupposed a stable social order in which every individual knew their place.
Kids.Net.Au - Encyclopedia > Manorialism (691 words)
Additional sources of income from 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.
Villein holdings were held nominally by arrangement of lord and tenant, but tenure became in practice almost universally hereditary, with a payment being made to the lord on the succession of another member of the family.
Like feudalism, which together with manorialism forms the legal and organisational framework of what is often termed feudal society, manorial structures must not be imagined as a uniform phenomenon universal among societies exhibiting such characteristics.
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