This is part of the Medieval European History Metanode.

Manorialism was an outgrowth of Medieval feudalism. It was a system of cultivating the soil by the labor of a peasant village community on a manor. The manor was an artificial unit of jurisdiction by a lord, the smallest unit of feudal government. The peasants on a manor were divided into three classes:

Franklins were the top-ranking peasants. They were free people who did not have to work for the lord; they simply paid rent for the land on which they lived. Franklins are estimated to have comprised 25% of the peasant population. The land they received was typically 30 acres, a unit known as a virgate.

Husbonds were serfs, personal property of the lord. Serfdom was hereditary, and the family was unable to leave the land on which they lived and worked. Unlike slaves, however, they could appear in court. Husbonds comprised 25-30% of the population. They usually farmed a half virgate.

Cotters were serfs who could only afford a cottage, as opposed to a house. They were the lowest of the peasants. Cotters made up about 50% of the peasant population, and they farmed 4-5 acres.

There were many taxes and fees associated with manorialism. Franklins usually did not have to pay these taxes, but Franklins and Cottars did. Among the taxes and fees were:

Head tax, which was basically a tax for having a head;
Heriot tax, an inheritance tax heirs had to pay in order to receive their parents' property. The Heriot tax was usually the best piece of furniture or the best of the livestock.
Mortuary tax, which was paid to the church. The priest got to pick the best furniture or livestock after the lord.
Merchet, a marriage tax. Serfs had to have permission to marry on the manor, and they were forbidden to marry off the manor.
Banalities, fees for using the lord's property. For example, everyone had to use the lord's mill, but he charged a tenth of the flour for its use.
Labor dues, including "weekwork" (working the lord's land three days a week), "boonwork" (extra work during harvest and planting seasons), and "corvee" (work on roads, bridges, moats, etc.)

The lords usually reserved a sixth to a third of the arable land for themselves; this land was known as a "demense". The peasants worked the land for them. The lords had three types of officials who oversaw the work:

Reeves, who were peasants chosen to oversee the peasants' work;
Bailiffs, who were the general overseers of the manors; and
Stewards, nobles who traveled from manor to manor to see that everything was in order.

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