The peasantry in medieval Europe

The peasantry in medieval Europe

On the third place in the medieval theory of the three classes are “those who work”, that is, the peasants.

At the turn of the X-XI centuries. The land was already cultivated by mostly dependent peasants. There are several ways that peasants turned out depending on the feudal lord. With the development of feudal society, the kings began to give their vassals not only land, but the people who lived on it. This marked the beginning of the land dependency of the peasants.

Another cause of the loss of personal freedom by peasants was their ruin, caused by endless internal and external wars.

Often peasants themselves resorted to the protection of the secular or ecclesiastical feudal lord to guard against raids or looting warlike neighbors and foreign invaders.

This forced them to abandon their allotments, which led to voluntary dependence on feudal lords.

From a charter in 1060 on the feudal duties of French villans

Let it be known that all courtyards imposed by the quitrent must bear the same obrok; every yard should give 8 denarii each year… 8 measures of wheat and 24 measures of oats. And also the vineyard that once belonged to the abbot, it is necessary to dig twice, twice a year, cut and perform all the necessary work in it, then squeeze the grape juice and deliver it for pouring into barrel barrels; If the vineyard is turned into a graze, it is necessary to work, properly processing the fields, up to the delivery of the harvested crop to the barrack barns.

The peasants were dependent and personally dependent. Landed in France, West Germany and Italy belonged to the Villans, who, although free, did not have the right to own land.

The most disenfranchised were personally dependent peasants – Remenses in Spain, Servas in France. Approximately in the same grave situation were the Villans in England. They could not leave their lord, who was both the master and the judge for them.

The personal non-freedom of the peasants is indicated by additional payments that do not involve rent. Since the señor was the owner of a mill, a furnace, a grape press,

he forced the peasants to use them. Peasants were calculated either by part of their products, or by money. For violation of the senor demanded to pay a fine or took the food.

In the XII-XIII centuries. peasants were given the opportunity to pay ransom, to become free. The land at the same time remained in the ownership of the feudal lords.

In the Scandinavian countries, a large group of the population was made up of free peasants – the owners of the land. Their feudal dependence was manifested primarily in the payment of rent by products.

The peasant’s life passed in endless labor. Everyone was engaged in his own business, who – seasonal field work, and who – and extremely respected, extremely necessary crafts. In the village worked blacksmiths, weavers, potters, millers, shoemakers, tailors. That is, almost everything necessary for life was made on the spot. This type of farm is called Natural.

Important issues in the life of the peasantry were decided by the community. It united peasants of one or several neighboring villages. The core of the community was a group of relatively wealthy, and therefore more influential, families. They gave the necessary funds for public needs and led the life of the community. From their milieu, usually, the elders were elected.

Quite often the peasants united around the parafia. After all, it was the community that built the church, the priest. The community was engaged in demarcation of common lands, monitored the condition of bridges and roads, and also cared for the weak, disadvantaged, poor, widows, orphans. Small community cases were heard at community gatherings. If necessary, the community organized the defense against an external threat. Expulsion from the community for anyone could become a terrible punishment.

Denarius is an ancient Roman coin containing 4.5 g of silver and embossed in the III century. BC. e.

Merka is a unit of bulk solids.


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The peasantry in medieval Europe