Humanities Unit 3 Module 3

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Define manor.

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Define manor.

An agricultural estate under the control of a lord.

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How was social order defined and judged in the Middle Ages?

Social order was defined and judged by connections rather than degree of freedom.

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What did the manors of the Middle Ages develop from?

Manors developed from the old Roman Empire's agricultural estates and the new land divisions made by early Medieval kings.

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What did virtually all manors consist of?

Virtually all manors consisted of the lord's home and outbuildings (barn, mill, etc) and at least one village in which the peasants resided and worked.

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True or false: Medieval peasants lived on their cropland and traveled into their villages like today's farmers.

False: Unlike today's farmers, medieval peasants lived close together in the village and traveled out to their fields.

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How were the fields of medieval manors organized?

The fields were organized in strips, with each peasant family using some and the lord owning a large number himself. The church, too, owned some strips for the priest's support.

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True or false: In a medieval manor, the pasture, woodlands, and water were as important as the cultivated land.

True: The pasture, woodlands, and water were as important as the cultivated land because they supported the village's animals.

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What did the survival of the peasants depend on?

  • The crops they grew on their plowed strips.

  • Their wise use of the uncultivated land of the manor (the pasture, woodlands, and water).

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How did peasants use the uncultivated pastures of the manor?

Serfs grazed their oxen and working horses, as well as their sheep and goats, on the common pastureland.

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Why were the animals that the peasants grazed on the pastures so important to medieval life?

  • They relied on the large draft animals to help with plowing in the heavy clay soils of northern Europe.

  • The animals provided essential leather and wool for clothing and other uses.

  • Farm animals supplemented a primarily grain-based diet as well, with milk, cheese, and some meat.

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Why did peasants not eat much meat?

They ate very little meat because their animals were too valuable to be disposed of in this way (for meat purposes). However, sometimes the lord gave peasants his unwanted portions of meat (tails, hooves, or entrails) to make soup.

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How did the uncultivated forests (woodland) of the manor play a key role in village life?

  • Peasants were allowed to gather fallen branches as firewood (even though the trees and game animals belonged to the lord).

  • The lord got a share of the pork that was produced by the peasants' pigs browsing in the forest.

  • In times of hunger, villagers gathered acorns from the oak trees and ground them into flour to make bread.

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Define serfs.

Medieval peasants who were semi-free. In other words, they were personally free (they were not slaves), but they were bound to the land and were not free to move from their village.

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Why were serfs bound to the land?

Medieval peasants were bound to the land because when a lord received a land grant from the king, he also gained the service of the peasants (serfs) who worked the land.

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Beyond their obligation to remain on the land, what else did serfs owe their lords?

  • They had to give their lord a percentage of their crops or whatever livestock they raised.

  • They owed him labor, which meant planting crops, building roads, erecting walls/buildings, digging ditches, and doing whatever else the lord ordered.

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True or false: Serfs owed military service to their lords.

False: Serfs did not owe military service to their lords, as fighting was a privilege reserved for the nobility.

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True or false: Peasant women worked as hard as the men.

True: Peasant women worked as hard as the men. They did all the domestic chores, toiled in the fields, tended vegetable gardens, and fed the animals. In addition, they performed the time-consuming task of producing cloth.

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Like their husbands, what did peasant women (female serfs) owe their lords and ladies of the manor?

  • Like their husbands, peasant women also owed the lord a portion of what they produced (from cloth to garden vegetables).

  • They owed the lord and lady of the manor a certain amount of their labor for domestic chores, spinning, and weaving.

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What obligations did peasant children have?

Peasant children as young as 6 were responsible for the care of their younger siblings, and older children worked in the fields alongside their parents.

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In exchange for their peasant services, what did lords provide their serfs?

  • Lords provided things that required a large investment of capital: mills, barns, ovens, large draft animals, and the like.

  • However, they primarily offered justice and protection to their serfs (strong warriors and shelter in fortresses during wars).

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True or false: All serfs DID enter voluntarily into this contract in which they exchanged their labor for safety (especially since safety was never ensured).

False: NOt ALL serfs entered voluntarily into this contract in which they exchanged their labor for safety, as sometimes armed lords who needed their lands cultivated forced peasants into servitude on their estates.

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True or false: Medieval manors were ONLY structured and organized to provide food for everyone.

False: NOT ONLY were medieval manors structured/organized to provide food for everyone, but they were also the economic and agricultural base which supported the fighting forces that allowed rulers like Charlamegne and Alfred to conduct their campaigns.

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How did the Carolingians develop an efficient way to produce/organize manorial armies?

The Carolingians developed an efficient way to produce/organize manorial armies by binding noble warriors to their lord in a system of mutual obligation the same way serfs were bound. A general system slowly developed that was based on the exchange of land for military service.

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What is the difference between manorialism and feudalism?

Manorialism is a fluid system where each contract could be different, and some men could be bound to more than one lord. Whereas feudalism, while it technically applies because of the concept on men being bound to a lord, historians avoid this term because it suggests a clearly organized structure instead of a loose, fluid system.

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Define vassal.

All noblemen who were bound by a contract and loyalty to their lord. These nobles' main function was warfare; they did not work the land as serfs did.

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What did the other titles that vassals took on in later years (such as baron or duke) show?

The other titles that vassals took on in later years, such as baron or duke, showed their position relative to other greater or lesser vassals.

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Describe the process of how a nobleman could become a lord's vassal.

When a noble bound himself in service to a lord, he swore a solemn oath of fealty (that is, to be faithful to his vows and his lords) by placing his hands between those of the lord and kissing. The nobleman now became the lord's vassal - bound to him for life.

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What did the vassal receive from the lord IN RETURN for binding himself to the lord as a vassal?

In return, the vassal would receive his fief. It was usually land, but it might've been something else that would generate enough income to support him.

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Describe the change in the length of time vassals held their fiefs that occurred in the 9th century.

Theoretically, a vassal held his fief only as long as he was able to fight for his lord, but by the 9th century, vassals expected to be able to pass their fiefs on to their sons.

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How did the son of a vassal inherit his father's position and fief?

A son was expected to place his hands between those of his lord, kiss, and renew his father's vows before he took full possession of the fief.

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True or false: As fiefs became hereditary possessions, the lord's control over the fief was STRENGTHENED.

False: As fiefs became hereditary possessions, the lord's control over the fief was WEAKENED.

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Besides their fiefs, what else did lords owe their vassals?

  • Military protection.

  • "Maintenance" (usually land).

  • The lord was also to act as his vassals' advocate in public court.

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What "aid and counsel" did vassals provide their lords?

  • As mentioned before, warfare was their primary form of aid. They owed their lords specified periods of fighting time.

  • They gave monetary aid too; when a lord incurred certain expenses for ceremonial events, the vassals paid extra taxes to fund the event.

  • They gave their lord counsel/advice and attended the national council of witenagemot.

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What obligation of the vassals to their lords paved the way for the parliamentary system that developed later in the Middle Ages?

The obligation that vassals had to give their lord counsel/advice as well as to attend the national council of witenagemot.

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Because the system between vassals and lords was a system of mutual obligation, what would happen if either party breached the contract?

If either party breached the contract, the arrangement could be rendered null. For instance, if a vassal failed to fight or give counsel, the lord could declare his land forfeit and give it to someone else.

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What difficulty was there when it came to enforcing the system of mutual obligation between vassals and lords?

Enforcement of the system of mutual obligation became complicated when armies of men were involved.

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What idea did the system of mutual obligation between vassals and lords establish?

The system of mutual obligation between vassals and lords established the idea of the primary of contract law that bound people together in a more ordered society. Feudal ties joined older kinship bonds in linking medieval warriors and their families together.

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How could a nobleman be both a vassal to someone over him and a lord to someone under him? (Emphasis on fluid system/hierarchy.)

A powerful vassal who had received large tracts of land from his overlord might offer portions of it to other nobles who, in turn, would become his vassals. The lowest vassal in this structure was still a lord to the serfs who worked the land (who were lords to no one).

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Why did medieval people not find ambiguity in the flexible terms of vassal and lord in their just as flexible system/hierarchy of mutual obligation?

Medieval people did not find ambiguity in these terms because the words "lord" and "vassal" were not absolute - they expressed a legal condition that defined one's relationship with another.

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Why were the feudal bonds (regarding the system of mutual obligation) so remarkably flexible?

The bonds were remarkably flexible because they were adapted to each place, time, and individual.

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What was the benefit of the feudal bonds (regarding the system of mutual obligation)?

The bonds kept society from disintegrating altogether in the face of invasions and decentralization of the 9th century.

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Alongside the benefit of feudal bonds (regarding the system of mutual obligation), what negatives did they contribute?

Despite the benefits, the bonds also had features that further decentralized society, and even contributed to increased violence. These systems of divided loyalty strained attempts to exert central authority in western Europe.

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How did feudal bonds (regarding the system of mutual obligation) contribute to increased violence?

Feudal bonds contributed to increased violence because in most cases, the vow of fealty was not necessarily exclusive, and in time the notion of personal loyalty became secondary to the idea of acquiring more property. Many vassals would serve different lords in exchange for different fiefs, hence creating a split.

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If the two lords of one vassal were at war, what three things did the vassal normally do?

  • A vassal could've followed the lord who gave him the largest fief.

  • A vassal could've stuck with his first vow (and as a result, could've stuck with his first lord).

  • A vassal could've tried backing the lord most likely to win the war.

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What concept did kings try to establish starting from the 11th century to combat the issue of vassals having divided loyalties between their lords (if they had multiple lords)?

Beginning in the 11th century in France and spreading from there over the next centuries, kings tried to establish the concept of liege lord.

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Define liege lord.

The lord who could claim unreserved loyalty.

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True or false: Kings were able to enforce the concept of liege lord with TOTAL success.

False: Kings were only able to enforce the concept of liege lord with MIXED success. The kings in England were successful, but in Germany they were less so.

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