...in which I share some of my favorite medieval research resources and methods for the benefit of others interested in also writing about the Middle Ages

Friday, February 13, 2015

Medieval Word of the Day

Manor: agricultural estate owned by a lord; sometimes attached to a castle, sometimes attached to a fortified manor house

(villeins working on a medieval manor)

Click here to view the layout of a medieval manor and take a tour of a medieval manor house

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Medieval word of the day

Tallage – one of the fees owed by villeins to their lords; basically a land tax, sometimes a fixed amount, sometimes determined “at will” by the lord of the manor

(a medieval villein paying taxes, or tallage, to his lord)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Medieval Word of the Day

Merchet: a fine or fee paid by a villein for permission for his daughter to marry, within or without the manor

(peasants marrying)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Medieval Word of the Day

Wood-penny: a penny required of villeins before they could gather dead wood from the forest

(an English medieval penny)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Medieval Word of the Day

The Law of a Year and a Day: one of the few ways a villein could win his freedom. If a villein escaped from his manor, took refuge in a chartered town, and was accepted into a guild without being caught and challenged by his manor lord for a year and a day, he was considered free from serfdom.

(An escaped villein had to join a guild, like this shoemakers' guild)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Medieval Word of the Day

Fees and services: what separated the freeman (or free farmer) from the villein – After paying rent for his land, the freeman owed only nominal services to the manor lord, whereas the villein owed the manor lord innumerable “fees”, including: tithes to the Church; a yearly tax called tallage; the wood-penny; fees to grind their grain at the mill; a hen or eggs for permission to keep poultry; merchet; heriot (the villein’s best beast or chattel forfeited to the lord of the manor when the villein died); mortuary (the villein’s second best beast or chattel forfeited to the Church when the villein died); and many more. A villein also owed “services” to the manor lord, including week-works (a certain number a days per week the villein was required to work on the lord’s demesne) and boon-works (extra days a villein was required to work on the lord’s demesne, usually during the height of harvest season). Villeins could also be summoned to help with repairs around the manor or at the manor house

(villeins pay fees in the form of money and animals to their lord)