Main Points

- The background of Feudalism and those who practiced it

- Life on a manor (serfs and peasants)

- Taxes

- The benefits of Feudalism

Manor Picture

This picture shows what a manor looks like and it also depicts what peasants working on a manor looks like.

Background of Feudalism

In the Middle Ages, many wealthy people owned large regions of land on which towns and pieces of kingdoms were built. These wealthy people ranged in class. Some were kings whereas others were nobles, knights or simply wealthy merchants. However, they all were respectfully named the lords of their land. These successful men had many servants and people who did jobs for them. A lord also would have people who served him promotionally. These people were called vassals. Vassals swore oaths to their lords promising to fight in times of war and to promote and support the rule of their lord. When a lord was especially pleased with one of his vassals, he would reward them with a piece of land. This exchange of land for political and military services was called Feudalism.

Life on a Manor


Life on a manor could be easy or hard for you depending on your status or class. Peasants were the poor low class people who lived in the villages on a manor. They worked for the lord of the manor and the majority of the crops they grew went to the manorhouse to feed the lord, his family, and guestes.Peasants were also made to pay excessive amounts of fines, fees and taxes to their lord. These could be paid with many things such as: crops, livestock, household items, and money. Peasants would pay their taxes to the manor reeve who was an official representative of the lord. The reeve would then pass the goods on to the lord. In return for all of this giving on the peasants' part, the peasants were assured their lord would protect them against others outside of the manner, as well as people inside like thieves. Peasants were also paid one penny for about every two days of work.

Some Common Taxes Peasants/Serfs Paid

The heriot, also called the death tax, was paid when the head of a peasant/serf household died.
The gersum was paid when a peasant decided to rent another piece of land on the manor.
The tallage was a yearly tax much like the one we have to pay today. The tallage was used to pay for the upkeeping of the manor. Things like repairing bridges and roads and construction costs for new buildings.
This fee was paid everytime the peasants/serfs wanted to use the manor mill to grind wheat or corn into flour. There were serious fines if you refused to pay the fee, reaching as high as what a peasant earned for twelve days of work.


Serfs, like peasants lived in the manor villages and paid their taxes to the manor reeve. However, serfs were more slaves than minimum wage workers. Unpaid, they turned the land and planted seeds. Worked long days all year round and broke their backs. Yet the serfs were still expected to pay taxes and fees for everything just like the peasants. Having no money, they paid their dues with the small bit of food they were allowed to keep for themselves after the rest had gone to the manorhouse. Serfs had barely any freedom. They could not leave the manor if they suddenly needed something without getting specific permission from their lord.

The Benefits of Feudalism

While feudalism deffinitely had it's kinks and bad sides, it also brought good things to medieval Europe. Feudalism brought the different classes of people closer together and lessened the wealthy' s feelings of disgust and superiority over the less fortunate. Instead of trading with other lords of the area or even
This picture shows the flow of taxes all the way from the Serfs to the Kings.
This picture shows the flow of taxes all the way from the Serfs to the Kings.
other countries, lords of a manor relied on poor peasants and serfs to provide them with their next meal. The poor began to be seen as reliable sources rather than scum bags. The co-reliance between these two walks of life brought the lords off their high horses (just a little) and made for a better and more succesful government. The division between different manors also led to the growth of more local armies. And because of the reasons stated above, these teeny armies worked together very well.

People on a manor and their roles

They did whatever their Lord or King told them to. They were not paid to do work and they had to pay taxes. They sometimes paid taxes with household goods, crops, and animals. They could not leave the manor without permission from the Lord or King.
Peasants were a more free version of the Serfs. Most of the food and crops they grew had to be given to the Lord or King. They also paid yearly taxes like the Serfs did.
Free Workers
People who worked freely on the manor who paid taxes to the lord of the manor for being able to use the land such as the fields, and growing food and crops and also for protection. These people did not work for the lords and the lords didn't have ultimate power over them.
The most trusted and most loyal servant of their king. In return for land they took an oath that they would fight for the king in times of war and would promote any laws that the king put in effect.
Lord or Kings
These were the rulers of everything in the manor. They had hardly any limits as to what they could do and could not do. They had all the power and could overrule almost anything that happened. The kings had ultimate dictatorship over many manors as well as all the other land that was in their kingdom.

Historical Fiction On This Topic

The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf by Gerald Morris


=Bibliography and Image SourcesPadrino, Mercedes. Feudalism and Village Life in the Middle Ages.Milwaukee: World Almanac Library, 2006. Trembinski, Donna. Medieval Law and Punishment. New York City: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2006. Manor picture: www.ucalgary.ca/.../ tutor/imagemid/manor.jpg Taxes picture: http://users.moscow.com/khakimian/images/feudalism.jpg Written by Hannah and Andrew of 7W ----