history, facts and information about the life of the people
in England during the Medieval times
- Feudalism and Rural Life
The introduction of feudalism fostered the movement from town to
for feudalism, rested on the soil as its basis. The
lord, his family, his servants, and his retainers were supported by the
income from landed property. The country estate of a lord was known as a
Feudalism in England
- The Manor
A manor varied in size, according to the wealth of its lord.
England perhaps six hundred acres represented the extent of an average
estate. Every noble had at least one manor; great nobles might have
several manors, usually scattered throughout the country; and even the
king depended on his many manors for the food supply of the court.
England, during the period following the Norman Conquest, contained more
than nine thousand of these manorial estates.
- Common Cultivation of the Arable Land
Of the arable land of the manor the lord reserved as much as
he needed for
his own use. The lord's land was called his "demesne," or domain. The
of the land he allotted to the peasants who were his tenants. They
cultivated their holdings in common. A peasant, instead of having his
in one compact mass, had it split up into a large number of small strips
(usually about half an acre each) scattered over the manor, and
not by fences or hedges, but by banks of unploughed turf. The appearance
a manor, when under cultivation, has been likened to a vast checkerboard
or a patchwork quilt. The reason for the intermixture of strips
to have been to make sure that each peasant had a portion both of the
land and of the bad. It is obvious that this arrangement compelled all
peasants to labor according to a common plan. A man had to sow the same
kinds of crops as his neighbors, and to till and reap them at the same
- Farming Methods
Medieval Farming was very backward. Farmers did not know
how to enrich the soil by the use of fertilizers or how to provide for a
proper rotation of crops. Hence each year they cultivated only
of the land, letting the other third lie "fallow" (uncultivated), that
might recover its fertility. It is said that eight or nine bushels of
grain represented the average yield of an acre. Farm animals were small,
for scientific breeding had not yet begun. A full-grown ox reached a
scarcely larger than a calf of to-day, and the fleece of a sheep often
weighed less than two ounces.
Medieval Farming - Three field system of Agriculture
Manor lands were therefore farmed
using the three-field system of agriculture. One field was devoted to
winter crops, another to summer crops, and a third lying fallow each
year. The land was worked by peasants.
- Farm Tools
Farm tools and implements were few and clumsy. The
wooden ploughs only scratched the ground. Farrowing was done with a hand
implement little better than a large rake. Grain was cut with a sickle,
and grass was mown with a scythe. It took five men a day to reap and
the harvest of two acres.
- Common Land
Common Land - the common use of the
Besides his holding of farm land, which in England averaged about thirty
acres, each peasant had certain rights over the non-arable land of the
manor. He could cut a limited amount of hay from the meadow. He could
so many farm animals such as cattle, geese, and swine on the waste
ground. He also
the privilege of taking so much wood from the forest for fuel and
purposes. A peasant's holding, which also included a house in the
thus formed a complete self-sufficient unit.
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