The Alienage
All Things Relating to Trade, Shipping, and Commodities

Manorialism in Northwestern Lýthia


Although most of the cultures of Northwestern Lýthia would not consider agriculture to be a business, in fact it is a very complex business that must be managed in order to be productive. Each culture has a name for the managerial activities of agriculture; however, I will use the common feudal name of manorialism. No mater the name, they all are similar in style and therefore we will focus on the manor and manorialism for this project.

What is a manor?

A manor is an agricultural system deemed necessary for the support of a armed cavalryman (knight), his family, and household. The holder of this land, and its ultimate manager, is its lord (the knight granted the land. The lord receives the manor from his lord, also known as his liege, in return for military, financial, and political services. This arrangement is known as a knight's fief or just a fief.

The person from whom land is held.

The person who holds the manor. The purpose of a manor is to support the lord and his household.

Knight's Fee
Sufficient land/resources to support a fully equipped cavalryman (knight). Traditionally, this is twelve hundred (1,200) acres.

Manor or Villa
This is an estate consisting of tenant holdings and/or a lord's demesne. Theoretically a manor has the amount of land required to support one knight.

What elements make up a manor?

A manor consist of several elements; however, not every manor will have all of the possible components. The ideal manor will have a manorhouse for the lord, his family and household. It consists of the main residence and the necessary out buildings to run the manor effectively. Some of these buildings are the grange for holding grain and vegetables, store age sheds for farming equipments, and stables for horses and other livestock.

The center of life for the manor is its village. This is where the tenants live and conduct their daily affairs apart from the surrounding fields.

The lands of the manor consists of cleared acres and uncleared acres. The cleared acres are where the agricultural activities of the manor occur. They consist of the lord's demesne, the open fields, common lands, pastures, and meadows. The uncleared lands consist of woodlands and waste.

The residence of the lord and his family and household.

Manor land which the lord keeps for himself. The demesne is worked by unfree tenants who owe labor in exchange for their land. Some manors do not have demesne, a few are entirely demesne.

Open Fields
These are arable lands divided into two or more open fields and used for the growing of crops. A portion of these fields remain fallow each year to ensure the land can rest and remain productive. Each field is divided into furlongs and each furlong into sections. Sections are allotted to tenants by lot, with their allotted sections being spread randomly throughout all of the fields. The goal is for each tenant to have an equal number of section in arable and fallow lands each year. The strips allotted are based on the acreage assigned to each tenant based on his standing within the community.

A portion of the manorial village where any resident may graze livestock.

The part of the manor where grass is grown for winter fodder. The meadow is often the best land in the manor.

Land used for grazing livestock. This is mostly the cleared land left fallow each year, but some areas of permanent pasture may exist, such as hilly areas to steep for plow oxen to work.

Woodlands include streams, ponds, swamps, and heath, all of which produce useful products such as fish, herbs, reeds, wild fowl, and bird eggs. Woodlands are carefully managed by a woodward to provide timber, firewood, nuts, berries, and game for the lord's table.

Land that is 'wasted.' This is not useless land; it is land which for one reason or another is currently unused. Insufficient labor or seed, crop disease, or military factors may be responsible.

This is the location of the tenants homes, workshops, church or shrine, etc. It may be laid out in a number of patterns; some of which are nuclear, linear, scattered, etc.

Who are the manor's officers?

The chief officer after the lord of the manor is the Bailiff. The Bailiff is usually appointed by a lord when he does not reside at a manor for part or all of the year. It is common for the lord to let the Bailiff farm the position in return for one third of the annual income or a portion if less than a year. What ever is left over is for the Bailiff's use in support of his own household. While the lord is away the Bailiff resides in the manorhouse and holds court in the lord's absence. The lord's court is usually held on a quarterly basis, but some lord's get more involved and hold one once a month and others less involved may hold only two or three in a year.

Under the Bailiff, the villagers themselves hold four key offices. The primary agricultural office of the manor is that of Reeve, it is he who oversees most of the day-to-day activities of the manor. One of the key tools he has in running the manor is the village moot or moot. Here all decisions on daily business and chores are determined in accordance with the village's bylaws. After the Reeve is the Beadle, who maintains the manors seed and winter feed within the various granges. In addition, he protects the lord's fields from encroachment and assists the Reeve and Bailiff in enforcing their orders. Next is the Herder who looks after the pastures and the lord's livestock. Finally there is the Woodward who manages the lord's woodlands.

An officer appointed by the lord to govern in his stead. Many bailiffs are knights-bachelor, but anyone may hold the post. On some manors, the reeve serves as a bailiff.

Legal term for a lease or grant, for consideration, usually money. Some manors are farmed to a bailiff. Manorial lords farm to freeholders in exchange for fixed rent.

The lord's court.

An elected or appointed villein who performs most of the managerial functions in a manor or village. The Reeve presides at the village moot, decides what crops to plant, supervises the formation of plow teams, and generally makes sure everyone does their proper share of work. On some manors, the Reeve collects rents, levies fines on tenants, sells produce for the lord, and makes purchases for the manor.

A village meeting and/or the place where it is held (mootplace). The Reeve presides and all aspects of village life and bylaws are debated.

The body of custom governing cultivation and grazing, enforced by the Reeve. Violation of bylaws may be dealt with by the Reeve, or brought to the lord's attention in the manorial court.

Tenant officer responsible for the preservation of seed and winter feed for the livestock. He also impounds livestock that stray onto the lord's land, collects fines, etc. The office is often held by a yeoman as part of his feudal service, or by a trusted villein appointed by the lord.

An enclosure wherein the lord keeps stray animals until their fines are paid. The punfold is generally managed by the Beadle.

The chief herdsman responsible for the manor's pasture and livestock.

A manorial officer appointed on some manors to protect the lord's woods, manage assarting, and ensure that tenants do not abuse their rights to swine grazing, foraging, and collecting dropwood.

Who are the tenants?

The tenants are all other inhabitants on the manor who do not reside within the manorhouse or its out buildings. These include freeholders who may be farmers, craftsmen, and Yeomen who hold their land in Farm for a set rent. Then there are the serfs or unfree tenants who hold their lands in return for labor services and some rents. Serfs can also include slaves in some cultures.

A freeholder who holds land in exchange for military service. Most yeomen are equipped as Light Foot, but there is a growing custom for them to be trained as bowmen.

One who holds land in exchange for rent (rather than labor).

An unfree tenant. There are three main classes, depending on acres held: Villein, Half-Villein, and Cottar.

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