Manorialism was an essential element of feudal society. It was the organizing principle of rural economy that originated in the Roman villa system of the Late Roman Empire, and was widely practiced in medieval western and parts of central Europe as well as China. It was slowly replaced by the advent of a money-based market economy and new forms of agrarian contract.
Manorialism was characterised by the vesting of legal and economic power in a Lord of the Manor, supported economically from his own direct landholding in a manor (sometimes called a fief), and from the obligatory contributions of a legally subject part of the peasant population under the jurisdiction of himself and his manorial court. These obligations could be payable in several ways, in labor (the French term corvée is conventionally applied), in kind, or, on rare occasions, in coin.
In examining the origins of the monastic cloister, Walter Horn found that "as a manorial entity the Carolingian monastery ... differed little from the fabric of a feudal estate, save that the corporate community of men for whose sustenance this organization was maintained consisted of monks who served God in chant and spent much of their time in reading and writing."
Manorialism died slowly and piecemeal, along with its most vivid feature in the landscape, the open field system. It outlasted serfdom as it outlasted feudalism: "primarily an economic organization, it could maintain a warrior, but it could equally well maintain a capitalist landlord. It could be self-sufficient, yield produce for the market, or it could yield a money rent." The last feudal dues in France were abolished at the French Revolution. In parts of eastern Germany, the Rittergut manors of Junkers remained until World War II. In Quebec, the last feudal rents were paid in 1970 under the modified provisions of the Seigniorial Dues Abolition Act of 1935.
The term is most often used with reference to medieval Western Europe. Antecedents of the system can be traced to the rural economy of the later Roman Empire (Dominate). With a declining birthrate and population, labor was the key factor of production. Successive administrations tried to stabilise the imperial economy by freezing the social structure into place: sons were to succeed their fathers in their trade, councilors were forbidden to resign, and coloni, the cultivators of land, were not to move from the land they were attached to. The workers of the land were on their way to becoming serfs.
Several factors conspired to merge the status of former slaves and former free farmers into a dependent class of such coloni: it was possible to be described as servus et colonus, "both slave and colonus". Laws of Constantine I around 325 both reinforced the semi-servile status of the coloni and limited their rights to sue in the courts; the Codex Theodosianus promulgated under Theodosius II extended these restrictions. The legal status of adscripti, "bound to the soil", contrasted with barbarian foederati, who were permitted to settle within the imperial boundaries, remaining subject to their own traditional law.
As the Germanic kingdoms succeeded Roman authority in the West in the fifth century, Roman landlords were often simply replaced by Germanic ones, with little change to the underlying situation or displacement of populations.
The process of rural self-sufficiency was given an abrupt boost in the eighth century, when normal trade in the Mediterranean Sea was disrupted. The thesis put forward by Henri Pirenne supposes that the Arab conquests forced the medieval economy into even greater ruralization and gave rise to the classic feudal pattern of varying degrees of servile peasantry underpinning a hierarchy of localised power centers.
The word derives from traditional inherited divisions of the countryside, reassigned as local jurisdictions known as manors or seigneuries; each manor being subject to a lord (French seigneur), usually holding his position in return for undertakings offered to a higher lord (see Feudalism). The lord held a manorial court, governed by public law and local custom. Not all territorial seigneurs were secular; bishops and abbots also held lands that entailed similar obligations.
In the generic plan of a medieval manor from Shepherd's Historical Atlas, the strips of individually worked land in the open field system are immediately apparent. In this plan, the manor house is set slightly apart from the village, but equally often the village grew up around the forecourt of the manor, formerly walled, while the manor lands stretched away outside, as still may be seen at Petworth House. As concerns for privacy increased in the 18th century, manor houses were often located a farther distance from the village. For example, when a grand new house was required by the new owner of Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire, in the 1830s, the site of the existing manor house at the edge of its village was abandoned for a new one, isolated in its park, with the village out of view.
In an agrarian society, the conditions of land tenure underlie all social or economic factors. There were two legal systems of pre-manorial landholding. One, the most common, was the system of holding land "allodially" in full outright ownership. The other was a use of precaria or benefices, in which land was held conditionally (the root of the English word "precarious").
To these two systems, the Carolingian monarchs added a third, the aprisio, which linked manorialism with feudalism. The aprisio made its first appearance in Charlemagne's province of Septimania in the south of France, when Charlemagne had to settle the Visigothic refugees who had fled with his retreating forces after the failure of his Zaragoza expedition of 778. He solved this problem by allotting "desert" tracts of uncultivated land belonging to the royal fisc under direct control of the emperor. These holdings aprisio entailed specific conditions. The earliest specific aprisio grant that has been identified was at Fontjoncouse, near Narbonne (see Lewis, links). In former Roman settlements, a system of villas, dating from Late Antiquity, was inherited by the medieval world.
Manors each consisted of up to three classes of land:
Additional sources of income for the lord included charges for use of his mill, bakery or wine-press, or for the right to hunt or to let pigs feed in his woodland, as well as court revenues and single payments on each change of tenant. On the other side of the account, manorial administration involved significant expenses, perhaps a reason why smaller manors tended to rely less on villein tenure.
Dependent holdings were held nominally by arrangement of lord and tenant, but tenure became in practice almost universally hereditary, with a payment made to the lord on each succession of another member of the family. Villein land could not be abandoned, at least until demographic and economic circumstances made flight a viable proposition; nor could they be passed to a third party without the lord's permission, and the customary payment.
Although not free, villeins were by no means in the same position as slaves: they enjoyed legal rights, subject to local custom, and had recourse to the law subject to court charges, which were an additional source of manorial income. Sub-letting of villein holdings was common, and labour on the demesne might be commuted into an additional money payment, as happened increasingly from the 13th century.
Like feudalism which, together with manorialism, formed the legal and organizational framework of feudal society, manorial structures were not uniform or coordinated. In the later Middle Ages, areas of incomplete or non-existent manorialization persisted while the manorial economy underwent substantial development with changing economic conditions.
Not all manors contained all three classes of land. Typically, demesne accounted for roughly a third of the arable area, and villein holdings rather more; but some manors consisted solely of demesne, others solely of peasant holdings. The proportion of unfree and free tenures could likewise vary greatly, with more or less reliance on wage labour for agricultural work on the demesne.
The proportion of the cultivated area in demesne tended to be greater in smaller manors, while the share of villein land was greater in large manors, providing the lord of the latter with a larger supply of obligatory labour for demesne work. The proportion of free tenements was generally less variable, but tended to be somewhat greater on the smaller manors.
Manors varied similarly in their geographical arrangement: most did not coincide with a single village, but rather consisted of parts of two or more villages, most of the latter containing also parts of at least one other manor. This situation sometimes led to replacement by cash payments or their equivalents in kind of the demesne labour obligations of those peasants living furthest from the lord's estate.
As with peasant plots, the demesne was not a single territorial unit, but consisted rather of a central house with neighbouring land and estate buildings, plus strips dispersed through the manor alongside free and villein ones: in addition, the lord might lease free tenements belonging to neighbouring manors, as well as holding other manors some distance away to provide a greater range of produce.
Nor were manors held necessarily by lay lords rendering military service (or again, cash in lieu) to their superior: a substantial share (estimated by value at 17% in England in 1086) belonged directly to the king, and a greater proportion (rather more than a quarter) were held by bishoprics and monasteries. Ecclesiastical manors tended to be larger, with a significantly greater villein area than neighbouring lay manors.
The effect of circumstances on manorial economy is complex and at times contradictory: upland conditions tended to preserve peasant freedoms (livestock husbandry in particular being less labour-intensive and therefore less demanding of villein services); on the other hand, some upland areas of Europe showed some of the most oppressive manorial conditions, while lowland eastern England is credited with an exceptionally large free peasantry, in part a legacy of Scandinavian settlement.
Similarly, the spread of money economy stimulated the replacement of labour services by money payments, but the growth of the money supply and resulting inflation after 1170 initially led nobles to take back leased estates and to re-impose labour dues as the value of fixed cash payments declined in real terms.
The Basque jaurerriak or señoríos (literally, the Basque lordships) were a series of feudal territories that came into existence in the Basque Country in the Middle Ages. The lordships were hereditary land titles over territories of variable size under the name of a lord or count. The title and lands were often recognized by kings to Basque chieftains. It is loosely related to the concept of manorialism as the king had to swear allegiance to the Foral law in exchange for military assistance from the Basque chiefs, who were considered sovereign over their own lands and people. The Basque señoríos generally conformed vassal states of larger kingdoms; most of them started as part of the Kingdom of Pamplona (later Navarre) but were integrated into the Kingdom of Castile by the 13th century. The Basque term jaurreria (pronounced [jauˈɾeria]) means "the lord's country" and it is usually used to refer to these feudal territories.
The feudal title confirmed considerable powers to the holder, which in other areas were directly controlled by the king. The Lord or Count was a sovereign judicial and military high authority, who ruled directly without referring to a king. The powers of the lord included the appointment of government and civil servants and collection of taxes, as well as the powers to sign external treaties, raise armies and wage wars.
The largest and most important of the señoríos was the Lordship of Biscay, which comprised the entire territory of the present-day province of Biscay.Catastro of Ensenada
In 1749 a large-scale census and statistical investigation was conducted in the Crown of Castile (15.000 places including Galicia and Andalusia, but not including the Basque provinces, Navarre or the Crown of Aragon). It included population, territorial properties, buildings, cattle, offices, all kinds of revenue and trades, and even geographical information from each place. It was encouraged by king Ferdinand VI of Spain and his minister the Marquis of Ensenada, and is known today as the Catastro of Ensenada.
The general answers of each place to the 40 questions of the Catastro produced a huge volume of documentation that affords historians an opportunity to analyze the economy, the society, the practices of the señorío system (manorialism) and environmental data from 18th-century Spain. It is the best statistical register of the pre-statistical age of the Ancien Régime in Europe.
Today the word catastro means “register of the properties”, but the etymology comes from “enquire”. In the 18th century there was a distinction between a catastro, which was made by central officers who traveled to the places to enquire, and the amillaramiento, which was made by local authorities.Duke of Gandía
The hereditary Spanish title duke of Gandía (Valencian: Ducat de Gandia, IPA: [duˈkad de ɣanˈdi.a]) has its origin in the "Manorialism of Gandía" founded in 1323 by James II of Aragon and was created in 1399 as Duke of Gandía by Martin of Aragon and granted to Alfonso of Aragon and Foix. Later, having no direct descendants, the title passed from the House of Aragon to the House of Trastámara. The title was re-established in 1483 by Ferdinand II of Aragon as a favour to Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia for his son Pedro Luis (Pier Luigi de Borgia).The dukedom went to Pier Luigi's half-brother Juan Borgia. He was assassinated, and his young son became Duke. The fourth duke was the religious figure Francesco Borgia. After the death of his wife, with whom he had a large family, he became a Jesuit.East Elbia
East Elbia (German: Ostelbien) was an informal denotation for those parts of the German Reich until World War II that lay east of the river Elbe.
The region comprised the Prussian provinces of Brandenburg, the eastern parts of Saxony (Jerichower Land) and the Kingdom of Saxony (Upper Lusatia), Pomerania, Silesia, East Prussia, West Prussia and Posen (from 1922 Posen-West Prussia) as well as the states of Free State of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Free State of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The urban area of Berlin was not included.
East Elbia was noted for its historic manorialism and serfdom, as well as for political conservatism, combined with the predominantly Protestant confession of the local population. "East Elbian Junker" was a politically charged term used by leftist parties especially during the Weimar Republic (1918-1933), denoting especially the rich functionaries of the conservative, right-wing German National People's Party (DNVP) that fitted the stereotype. Already during the time of the German Empire (1871-1918), these East Elbian Junkers had formed the monarchy's reactionary backbone.Els Hostalets de Pierola
Els Hostalets de Pierola is a Spanish municipality situated in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, province of Barcelona, Spain.
The municipality includes the villages of Els Hostalets de Pierola, els Boscos de Can Martí, Can Fontimarc, Can Fonsalba, Can Gras, Can Marcet, Can Rovira de l'Estela, Pierola and Serra Alta.Feudalism
Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.
Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the Middle Ages. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.A broader definition of feudalism, as described by Marc Bloch (1939), includes not only the obligations of the warrior nobility but also those of all three estates of the realm: the nobility, the clergy, and the peasantry bound by manorialism; this is sometimes referred to as a "feudal society". Since the publication of Elizabeth A. R. Brown's "The Tyranny of a Construct" (1974) and Susan Reynolds's Fiefs and Vassals (1994), there has been ongoing inconclusive discussion among medieval historians as to whether feudalism is a useful construct for understanding medieval society.Heerlijkheid
A heerlijkheid (a Dutch word; pl. heerlijkheden; also called heerschap; Latin: Dominium) was a landed estate that served as the lowest administrative and judicial unit in rural areas in the Dutch-speaking Low Countries before 1800. It originated as a unit of lordship under the feudal system during the Middle Ages. The English equivalents are manor, seigniory, and lordship. The heerlijkheid system was the Dutch version of manorialism that prevailed in the Low Countries and was the precursor to the modern municipality system in the Netherlands and Flemish Belgium.Hermitage Manor
Hermitage Manor is a small manor house in Warwickshire (UK) with a trihedral moat, associated land and farm. A manor house or fortified manor-house is a country house, which has historically formed the centre of a manor (see Manorialism). The term is sometimes applied to relatively small country houses which belonged to gentry families, as well as to grand stately homes, particularly as a technical term for minor late medieval castles more intended for show than for defence.Lord of the manor
In English and Irish history, the lordship of a manor is a lordship emanating from the feudal system of manorialism. In modern England and Wales, it is recognised as a form of property, one of three elements of a manor that may exist separately or be combined, and may be held in moieties:
the title (deriving from the Roman concept of dignitas);
the manorial, comprising the manor and/or its land; and
the seignory, rights granted to the titular holder of the manor.A title similar to such a lordship is known in French as Seigneur du Manoir, Welsh as Breyr, Gutsherr in German, Godsherre in Norwegian and Swedish, Ambachtsheer in Dutch and Signore or Vassallo in Italian.Michał Tyszkiewicz (1761–1839)
Michał Tyszkiewicz (Lithuanian: Mykolas Tiškevičius; 1761 – September 4, 1839) was a member of the noble Tyszkiewicz family and polkovnik in the French Grande Armée during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. He acquired several manors in present-day Lithuania, including those in Palanga and Biržai. He and his descendants built and reconstructed several manor houses that are some of the most important sites of manorialism heritage in Lithuania.Munslow (hundred)
Munslow is a hundred of Shropshire, England. It was formed with the amalgamation of the Anglo-Saxon hundreds of Patton and Culvestan during the reign of Henry I (1100 to 1135). Hundreds in England had various judicial, fiscal and other local government functions, their importance gradually declining from the end of manorialism to the latter part of the 19th century.
The hundred is named after the village of Munslow, where the hundred's judicial and administrative functions were mostly carried out. The 'hundred house' for Munslow hundred was originally located in neighbouring Aston Munslow, but from the Tudor period was located in Munslow itself.Muscovite manorialism
The development of feudal society in the region of Rus' took a different course to that in Western Europe. In particular, under the version of manorialism practised in Rus', knights granted land by a prince were not bound in allegiance to that prince; and instead of serfdom much of the land was worked by a partially free peasant class (smerd). In consequence, there was no strong central monarchy able to resist invasions by the Poles, Norsemen, Tatars and Mongols. A strong central power emerged only later, particularly under Ivan III of Russia, which defeated the invaders, unified the territory of Rus', and laid claim to large areas of land.Mutualization
Mutualization or mutualisation is the process by which a joint stock company changes legal form to a mutual organization or a cooperative, so that the majority of the stock is owned by employees or customers. Demutualization or privatization is the reverse process.Polyptych (document)
In medieval history, the Polyptych (or Polyptyque) was a document detailing the lands that a noble owned. Many also featured names of the peasants that lived there, allowing for historians to track the history of peasant families. Another common feature was the recording of the transport services and payments of money by peasants. The polyptych was developed in the Carolingian period. They are used in the study of manorialism. Examples include the Polyptych of Irminon from the monastery of St-Germain des Pres.Republic of Bouillon
The Republic of Bouillon was a short-lived French client republic, around the city of Bouillon in present-day Belgium, based on the duchy of Bouillon, which had existed between France and the Austrian Netherlands since the 15th century. Reforms, sponsored by the duke, abolishing manorialism and feudalism and establishing a constitutional basis for the monarchy did not prevent what many sources describe as the proclamation of a republic in April 1794. The republic was short-lived, however, as the territory was annexed by the French First Republic 18 months later. In 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, the duchy was absorbed into the promoted Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, becoming a part of Belgium when that nation was founded in the 1830s.Serfdom
Serfdom is the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism. It was a condition of debt bondage, which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted in some countries until the mid-19th century.As with slaves, serfs could be bought, sold, or traded (with some limitations as they generally could be sold only together with land, with the exception of the kholops in Russia who could be traded like regular slaves), abused with no rights over their own bodies, and could not leave the land they were bound to. Serfs who occupied a plot of land were required to work for the lord of the manor who owned that land. In return they were entitled to protection, justice, and the right to cultivate certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence. Serfs were often required not only to work on the lord's fields, but also in his mines and forests and to labor to maintain roads. The manor formed the basic unit of feudal society, and the lord of the manor and the villeins, and to a certain extent serfs, were bound legally: by taxation in the case of the former, and economically and socially in the latter.
The decline of serfdom in Western Europe has sometimes been attributed to the widespread plague epidemic of the Black Death, which reached Europe in 1347 and caused massive fatalities, disrupting society. The decline had begun before that date. Serfdom became increasingly rare in most of Western Europe after the Renaissance. But, conversely it grew stronger in Central and Eastern Europe, where it had previously been less common (this phenomenon was known as "later serfdom").
In Eastern Europe the institution persisted until the mid-19th century. In the Austrian Empire serfdom was abolished by the 1781 Serfdom Patent; corvée continued to exist until 1848. Serfdom was abolished in Russia in the 1860s. In Finland, Norway and Sweden, feudalism was never fully established, and serfdom did not exist; however, serfdom-like institutions did exist in both Denmark (the stavnsbånd, from 1733 to 1788) and its vassal Iceland (the more restrictive vistarband, from 1490 until 1894).
According to medievalist historian Joseph R. Strayer, the concept of feudalism can also be applied to the societies of ancient Persia, ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt (Sixth to Twelfth dynasty), Muslim India, China (Zhou dynasty and end of Han dynasty) and Japan during the Shogunate. James Lee and Cameron Campbell describe the Chinese Qing dynasty (1644–1912) as also maintaining a form of serfdom.Melvyn Goldstein described Tibet as having had serfdom until 1959, but whether or not the Tibetan form of peasant tenancy that qualified as serfdom was widespread is contested by other scholars. Bhutan is described by Tashi Wangchuk, a Bhutanese civil servant, as having officially abolished serfdom by 1959, but he believes that less than or about 10% of poor peasants were in copyhold situations.The United Nations 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery also prohibits serfdom as a form of slavery.Traditional economy
Traditional economy is an economic system in which traditions, customs, and beliefs help shape the goods and services the economy produces, as well as the rules and manner of their distribution. Countries that use this type of economic system are often rural and farm-based. Also known as a subsistence economy, a traditional economy is defined by bartering and trading. A little surplus is produced and if any excess goods are made, they are typically given to a ruling authority or landowner.
A pure traditional economy has had no changes in how it operates (there are few of these today). Examples of these traditional economies include those of the Inuit or those of the tea plantations in South India. Traditional economies are popularly conceived of as "primitive" or "undeveloped" economic systems, having tools or techniques seen as outdated. As with the notion of contemporary primitiveness and with modernity itself, the view that traditional economies are backward is not shared by scholars in economics and anthropology. Two current examples of a traditional or custom based economy are Bhutan and Haiti.
Traditional economies may be based on custom and tradition, with economic decisions based on customs or beliefs of the community, family, clan, or tribe.Volok Reform
The Volok Reform (Lithuanian: Valakų reforma, Belarusian: Валочная памера) was a 16th-century land reform in parts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Lithuania proper, Duchy of Samogitia and parts of White Ruthenia). The reform was started by Grand Duchess Bona Sforza in her possessions to increase the revenues of the state treasury but soon was expanded statewide and was copied by other nobles and the Church. The reform increased effectiveness of agriculture by establishing a strict three-field system for crop rotation. The land was measured, registered in a cadastre, and divided into voloks (land unit of about 21.38 hectares (52.8 acres)). Volok became the measurement of feudal services. The reform was a success in terms of the annual state revenue that quadrupled from 20,000 to 82,000 kopas of Lithuanian groschens. In social terms, the reform and the accompanying Third Statute of Lithuania (1588), promoted development of manorialism and fully established serfdom in Lithuania which existed until the emancipation reform of 1861. The nobility was clearly separated from the peasants which severely limited social mobility.Western European marriage pattern
The Western European marriage pattern is a family and demographic pattern that is marked by comparatively late marriage (in the middle twenties), especially for women, with a generally small age difference between the spouses, a significant proportion of women who remain unmarried, and the establishment of a neolocal household after the couple has married.
In 1965, John Hajnal discovered that Europe is divided into two areas characterized by a different patterns of nuptiality. To the west of the line, marriage rates and thus fertility were comparatively low and a significant minority of women married late or remained single and most families were nuclear; to the east of the line and in the Mediterranean and particular regions of Northwestern Europe, early marriage and extended family homes were the norm and high fertility was countered by high mortality.