A manor is a self-sufficient area of land owned by one called a lord. On this land, many slave-like people (who weren’t considered slaves because they were not bought or sold) known as serfs dwell in small huts. Merchants lived on the manor as well and worked in shops as things like a blacksmith, a baker or a craftsmen. The manor consisted of the homes of the serfs and the merchants, a church, the lord’s castle where he and his servants lived and the farmland the serfs worked on. This way of life became known as feudalism, an exchange between the people and the lord that dealt with protection from invaders for loyalty to the lord.
Feudalism came about when the period known as The Dark Ages began. Life was a struggle in Europe at this time. The Byzantine Empire suffered from numerous invasions and warfare from the Northern Vikings. Charlemagne brings the end of this feud. He encourages the people to convert to Christianity which is part of the reason why the church was such an important part of everyone’s lives. He also sets up schools and libraries were scholars copied down ancient texts.
Serfs worked day and night farming. Whether it was crops for the church, for themselves, or for the lord himself, the serfs were never not working. The serfs were the lowest class of people in the social pyramid inside a manor. The serfs had to give a percentage of their crops to the church. This was known as a tithe. Using the three fields system, a system where two fields were seeded and one was fallow to allow soil to regain nutrients and grow more & better food. Approximately fifteen to thirty families lived on a manor protected by the lord.
The Roman Catholic Church was the center of everyone’s life on a manor. It was run by the Pope. A priest was the head of their own parish. After a daily mass, they would care for the sick and the poor, collect tithes from the serfs, and would teach at the schools. Nuns and monks lived in monasteries and convents where they learned and copied manuscripts and lived. The church made it clear to the people that the goal of everyday life was to get into heaven. People payed a lot of money and spent a lot of time at church. The church maintained order and was without a doubt the most powerful part of medieval life on a manor.
The lord, his family, and his servants lived in the castle on the manor. The castle was built with tall, thick walls and mostly on a hill. Some even had water moats. There weren’t many windows on a castle. They were small and made with no glass. Castles were meant to provide protection against invaders. They seemed to be helpful for a long time until the invention of the cannon, which was strong enough the demolish a castle’s walls, which brought about the end of castle building.
The Knights job in the Middle Ages was to use weapons, horsemanship and excel at medieval warfare. Knights acted, made decisions, and even fought according to the Code of Chivalry. A knight would be brave, courageous, kind, and never cowardly. For example, a knight would never fight another if his back was turned. A knight was not supposed to be sneaky.
Music and art played an important role in the medieval religious life Monks sang without music songs called Monastery chants. The songs were sung in Latin. Some churches had instruments such as organs and bells. The “hurdy gurdy” was also found in churches. Two people played this stringed instrument. One person turned the crank while the other played the keys.
Sanitation and hygiene on the manor were awful. There were no such things as sewage systems, for either the humans or the farm animals. The people rarely bathed. The manor was often very crowded with people. Diseases spread quickly and were very effective like the Black Plague. People believed that illnesses were caused by bad spirits punishing people for their sins.
Life on a manor in the middle ages was unlike any other time period in history. Social classes varied, the church was the center of everyone’s lives, and everyone wanted to be protected from invaders. The decline of manorialism came when towns started to develop after invasions stopped. Living on a manor brought the legend of knights and the start of the Catholic church to today’s society. Christianity may not be as popular today if it weren’t for the people of the middle ages centering their lives around it.