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Life in the Middle Ages

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Kate Mollett

on 19 April 2013

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Transcript of Life in the Middle Ages

Social & Economic Structure Politics The Feudal Manor Daily Life Entertinment and Festivities How was the Medieval society structured? Who were the nobles? Who were the peasants? How did a manor support itself? How was trade important in the Middle Ages? Who was the leader or leaders during the Middle Ages? What were the qualities of a good feudal lord? How did the lower class contribute to politics, if at all? How did feudal lords attain more land? How did knights contribute to government? Describe how the land was divided and used in a typical manor. What were the important buildings in the manor? What were the different types of activities that took place on a manor? How did a manor sustain itself? Who was the head of each manor in the feudal system? What was a peasants home life? What made life in town different from life on the manor? What was the major religion? What sort of foods were in the peasant diet? The noblemen's diet? Who was educated, and in what fields, during medieval times? What sort of entertainment took place at the castles? Were sporting activities important for entertainment? Were dances and parties held on the manor? What were some popular medieval games? Each noble held their land from the King, sometimes through other nobles, in a kind of contract or agreement called a feudal bond.

This was called feudalism. There were two parts to the bond, fealty and homage. Under this contract nobles pledged their allegiance as vassals to the King in exchange for the grant of land.

In turn the knights swore the same kind of fealty to the nobles, so that in the end the King was on top, the nobles owed him fealty, and the knights owed it to the nobles. Everyone was thus connected in a kind of bond. The Feudal Ceremony In a public ceremony, the nobles and knights, as vassals, swore homage to their liege lord. The ceremony was much the same all over Europe. Two men would face one another, the one agreeing to serve kneeling.

They placed their hands together, palm to palm, and the liege closed their hands around them. He said simply something like the following. “I become your man of the tenement I hold of you, and to you faithfully will bear body, chattels, and earthly worship, will support you against all folk saving the faith that I owe to our lord the king.”

The liege raised the kneeling man, and both kissed one another on the cheek to signal their agreement and friendship. This oath was a legal contract in which the liege promised to defend the vassal against all men. The vassal swore the same, adding reverence of the liege lord.

After the homage had been sworn, another rite was added, the Rite of Fealty. In the fealty ceremony the vassal pledged not to the man but to uphold his duties: “Hear this my lord: I will bear faith to you of life and member, goods, chattels, and earthly worship, so help me God and these holy Gospels of God.” This was an oath, a kind of contract that could be brought up in court. Fealty was not mutual as Homage was; but homage could not be brought up in court, while fealty could, and this is why both were used. The oath of loyalty was meant to be binding for life. Anyone who broke it would be regarded as a traitor. Lords- The Lords (knights) ruled over the fiefs or manors. They rented their land to peasants who worked for them. The trained knights were bound by oath to serve the nobles who had granted them their fiefs. King- The King depended on their Barons to provide knights and soldiers in time of war. Baron-The Barons were the most powerful and wealthy noblemen, they received their fiefs directly from the King Bishops-The Bishop had as much power as a Baron. They ruled over all areas of the church including the priest ,convents and monasteries. The collection of taxes made Bishops extremely rich.


In fact, the serfs were almost like slaves to the feudal lord. He had the right to grant marriages, tax anytime or anything, and to force them to use mills or ovens that he owned. He most often made his serfs work his own land. He could charge them for his mill services, make them use his mill, and thus create a monopoly. He also could force everyone to attend court when in session. He held absolute power in establishing punishments for various offenses such as thievery or murder, matters not appropriate for a village court The Peasants or Serfs: Life on a manor was extremely hard for a peasant. It consisted of work and family life. Approximately ninety percent of the people in the middle ages were considered to be peasants. There was a division of the peasants into free and a type of indentured servants. The free peasants worked in their own independent businesses, usually as carpenters, blacksmiths, weavers, or bakers. They paid the lord a type of rent for using their small plots of land.

He also got a sense of security by living near a castle and potential protection from danger. They also had the privilege of passing their land on through inheritance after their deaths. The peasants also had some local political rights. They often formed their own manorial courts, called halimotes. The peasants also enforced these laws The lord also had a great deal of control over his peasants, known as serfs. Most peasnts traded many things and also had many forms of trade.

A trade in Medieval time was known as what is now a job or a form of work. In some places salt was used as currency. Because most meats could be preserved by puting salt on the meat. A manor consisted of a manor house, one or more villages, and up to several thousand acres of land divided into meadow, pasture, forest, and cultivated fields.

The fields were further divided into strips; 1/3 for the lord of the manor, less for the church, and the remainder for the peasants and serfs.

This land was shared out so that each person had an equal share of good and poor. A Manor House, castle, Church, village, & the surrounding farm land. At least half the work week was spent working on the land belonging to the lord and the church. Time might also be spent doing maintenance and on special projects such as clearing land, cutting firewood, and building roads and bridges. The rest of the time the villagers were free to work their own land. Meat, fish, pastries, cabbage, turnips, onions, carrots, beans, and peas were common, as well as fresh bread, cheese, and fruit. At a feast spitted boar, roast swan, or peacock.

Wine or ale was drunk, never water, which was rightly considered suspect. Ale was the most common drink, but it was not the heady alcoholic drink we might imagine. It was thin, weak, and drunk soon after brewing. It must have had little effect on sobriety. Fruit juices and honey were the only sweeteners, and spices were almost unknown until after the Crusades. A manor had many different ways to support itself. One is by employment of Serfs to do mundane jobs that they did not wish to perform. King and Queens were the leaders of most Manors They had strength, they were intelligent, and were very courteous to their people. The lower class did not have the option to contribute to politics. No one cared about their opinion for they were mostly treated as slaves. the king gave the lords more land as the lords added more knights to the kings army. Mostly by protecting the King and the manor. Not all manors were held necessarily by Lay Lords rendering military service to their superior. A substantial number of manors (estimated by value at 17% in England in 1086) belonged directly to the King. An even greater proportion were held by bishoprics and monasteries. A manor had peasants [or serfs] that farmed in exchange for protection, and since manors were usually next to rivers and other natural resources, they had water, wood, food, and everything else they might need. Manors also had their own military for protection.

A French ruler realized his empire needed educated people if it was to survive, and he turned to the Catholic Church as the source of such education. His decree commanded that every cathedral and monastery was to establish a school to provide a free education to every boy who had the intelligence and the perseverance to follow a demanding course of study.

Grammar, rhetoric, logic, Latin, astronomy, philosophy and mathematics formed the core of most curriculums. During the Dark Ages, the only natural science learned came from popular encyclopedias based on ancient writings of Pliny and other Roman sources.

Students learned more when they ventured out into the countryside to talk with trappers, hunters, furriers and poachers, who spent their time observing wildlife. During the Middle Ages the only recognised religion was Christianity, in the form of the Catholic religion. The lives of the Medieval people of the Middle Ages were dominated by the church. From birth to death, if you were a peasant, a serf, a noble a lord or a King, life was dominated by the church. Some religious institutions became important, rich and powerful. The lives of many Medieval people were dedicated to to the Catholic church and religion. According to law, peasants did not belong to themselves meaning eveything they had belonged to the lord of the manor. This includes land, animals, homes, clothes and even food. the serfs were to work for the lord. Their life was a constant toil. Feasts, jousts, banquets, festivals, fairs, hunting, hawking, and animal sports.
All activities took place at the castle.
All the common people enjoyed these games and activities. Also common people enjoyed weaving wool, flaxing cloth, and making soaps, butters, ale, and cheese. Shuffle board, checkers, hammer throwing, bowling dice, archery, skittles, and wrestling. Yes. Sports were important because they settled disputes about land and other things as such. Yes. Many festivals were held. Their was a feast or festiful held about every other day. People who lived on a manor were very much self-sufficient. They grew most of their own food, and peasant women spun and wove wool and flax into cloth to make the family's clothing, made their own butter and cheese, brewed their own ale,and would make household items like candles and soap.

In towns, people would be more likely to buy a lot of things ready-made from shops and markets. There would be more specialised tradesmen and craftsmen than there would be in a village.

In a manor, the inhabitants would be subject to a large extent to the will of the Lord of the manor, and would owe him labour services on his won farm and if they were serfs they were not free to leave unless the lord gave them permission. In the towns, most people were free and lived their lives independent of the will of a lord .

In the country, women were normally expected to be the family doctors, and would be expected to make home rmeedies for ailments, be able to stitch up wounds, set broken bones etc. In a town, people would be more likely to have access to a doctor or apothecary, or to a barber-surgeon.

Another major difference of course would be that far more people in those days lived in the country than in towns, the manorial way of life would be more familiar to a far greater number of people than town life. The End ... Oh wait any questions?
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