• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The system of serfdom in Medieval England.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The system of serfdom was administered in Medieval England from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries. In this time, serfdom was a way of life for the peasantry class and deviation from this was limited. The ruling class who owned the land were the beneficiaries of this system but could not withstand the disadvantages that serfdom had. The disadvantages are the reason for serfdom's decline and consequently, its demise. The advantages were mainly hegemonic in the sense it rarely sided with all individuals of society. However, in some respect, there were advantages of serfdom which were met by the peasantry. The disadvantages of serfdom in Medieval England deal with social and economic destitution of select individuals. The serf, who was bound to the manorial land, was in the least desirable position of this system in terms of freedom. Many serfs were in a constant battle to survive and usually had family's to feed as well. They lived in a manorial system which meant they lived on land that was owned by a lord whom which the un-free serf was ever indebted to. The serf was under the obligation to perform numerous labor duties for the Lord while maintaining his own piece of land and consequently, pushing the limits of his physical and emotional well-being. ...read more.

Middle

all of which had to be given the lord's permission in order to proceed.8 The nature of the lord's control over the serf persisted in a succession of money payments. Rent for his stretch of land was mandatory but so was additional payments known as "Tallage at will". This payment was decided by the lord and could be required of the serf on more than one occasion throughout the year. 9 Further oppression upon the serf was administered by claiming his property after his death, known as a heriot. This action given by "the power of the lord" directly effected the family of the serf who were clearly disadvantaged to begin with yet, now had to deal with the loss of their provider.10 These oppressive demands of the lord caused the serf much hardship and severely deprived him in relation to the other social classes in Medieval England. The economic disadvantages of serfdom as a system in medieval England usually depended on the available resources of the manor. The lord had his demesne land and the peasants, who were either free or bound to the land (serf), shared the rest of the land between them. The serf was usually left with less than five acres and many times it was insufficient to feed him and his family. ...read more.

Conclusion

Serfdom provided a steady flow of goods, although not much, for the peasant who would of unlikely succeeded in a paid labour situation. Manorial custom helped solidify the serf's land holding and labour services so he was never in jeopardy of being left without land or work.16 The disadvantages of serfdom overshadow the advantages, and evidence of this arrives from the system's inability to thrive during the evolution of Medieval English society. These disadvantages laid the groundwork for the peasant revolt of 1381 and essentially caused the demise of serfdom in England. Very little has been written on the advantages of serfdom which serves as a reminder of its many weaknesses as a social and economic institution. 1 H.S. Bennett, Life On The English Manor: A Study of Peasant Conditions 1150-1400 (Cambridge: University Press, 1956), 228. 2 Ibid., 229. 3 Ibid., 230. 4 M.M. Postnan, The Famulus: The Estate Labourer in the Twelfth and the Thirteenth Centuries, 3. 5 Bennett, Life on the English Manor, 104. 6 Ibid., 112. 7 Postnan, The Famulus, 10. 8 Bennett, Life on the English Manor, 129. 9 Ibid., 138. 10 Ibid,. 144. 11 Mark Bailey, The English Manor: 1200-1500, (Manchester: University Press, 2002), 16. 12 Rodney Hilton, Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism, (London: Verso, 1990), 44. 13 Bailey, The English Manor, 16. 14 Bailey, The English Manor, 16. 15 Bennett, Life on the English Manor, 121. 16 M.M. Postnan, The Medieval Economy and Society, (Middlesex: Penguin, 1975), 162. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Medieval History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Medieval History essays

  1. Were late Medieval and early Modern Europeans obsessed with death?

    These 3 were collectively known as the Black Death which hit Eastern Europe in 1347. By 1349 all a Europe had been encompassed. Approximately a third of the European population was killed, although numbers are quite ambiguous due to panic mongers of the time who spread exaggerated mortality rates.

  2. What impact did the Scandinavian settlement have on pre-Conquest society and economy in England?

    It has been suggested that the military leaders organised the settlement and possibly kept to a military lifestyle possibly for a generation and perhaps longer.8 Political and social reality was a greater factor than the common ethnic identity and military solidity.9 It is unlikely that even the smaller war bands

  1. The plague did more than just devastate the medieval population. It caused a substantial ...

    First local governments, and then in the case of England, the monarchy, attempted to regulate the movement and price of foodstuffs as well as wages paid to laborers. The English Statute of Laborers of 1351 tried to hold wages at pre-plague levels.

  2. Political Catalysts of the Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe

    All over Europe ... the witch-trials multiplied with the Catholic reconquest.19 This was an essentially political business, to do with power and control, over which northern Europe was to tear itself apart in the Thirty Years' War. A particular focus for the demonising hostility of the Catholic powers was a mysterious, secretive (and possibly mythical)

  1. How did the medieval laity seek to secure the salvation of their souls?

    the ways of Christ; and so the Church devised two sets, one of Virtue and one of Vice. This is one of the major breakthroughs in the medieval Church; teaching the masses, and so each man should live the Virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Justice, Prudence, and Temperance.

  2. the Aztec rebellion against the Conquistadors Formatted

    These represented their gods or sacrificial victims. * Aztec Drawings - Like many other civilisations, the Aztecs had their own form of ancient pictographs, that formed a large part of their recording of information and their art. Pictographs are small pictures, say a flag or a stone, that are used to record language or numbers when conducting business.

  1. To what extent did the Black Death contribute to the decline of Serfdom?

    Major characteristics of Serfdom were being challenged; Serfs were normally paid merely with land and the ability to provide for themselves and their families, what has resulted is a complete change in mentalities for the Serfs, they believe they can push for high wages, partake in leisure activities and not be restricted to a land.

  2. To what extent was the English Invasion of Irelandan accident, unforeseen and unplanned?

    of supplies, effectively cutting Strongbow off from English aid.[31] Moreover, he was set on establishing his dominion over Anglo-Norman held territories, as seen with how he brought 1000 lb. with the clear intent to sign charters and letters in Ireland, along with a force of 4500 men.[32] Therefore, evidence suggests

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work