Eras and Their Highlights

The Middle Ages

What were lords?

Lords (or seigniors) were wealthy landowners during the Middle Ages (500–1350). By about the ninth century, much of western Europe was divided into huge estates, called manors. These were self-sufficient estates that were held by a lord (members of the clergy could also be lords). The lord would lease land to peasants who would farm it; in return, the peasants would pay the lord in taxes, in services, or in kind (with crops or goods). In addition to farmland, a manor would typically have meadow, woodland, and a small village. The lord presided over the entire manor and all the people living there. As the administrator of the land, he collected taxes and presided over legal matters. But the manors were not military entities; in other words, the lord did not promise protection to the peasants living on his land. As such, the manors were purely socioeconomic (as opposed to fiefs, which were social, economical, and political units).


This is a web preview of the "The Handy History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App