The Manor System

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The Manor System

The Manor System refers to a system of agricultural estates during the Middle Ages that were owned by a lord and run by serfs or peasants. The lords provided safety and protection from outside threats and the serfs or peasants provided labor to run the manor.

The lords were able to provide protection as they were also military leaders. With serfs handling their estates for them, the lords were able to focus on their battle tactics and military strengths allowing them to lead men in defense of the manor should the need arise.

The Three-Field System
A key component of the Manor System was the three-field system. The three-field system was a method of crop rotation designed to maximize the amount of food the manor produced. The fields were used for different purposes and were rotated each year. The rotation allowed the fields to regain nutrients needed for crops to grow.

The first field would be planted with winter crops such as rye and wheat. The second field would be planted with spring crops such as peas and beans. And the third field would lie fallow, meaning nothing was planted in it that year allowing the field to rest. This process would then alternate between the fields every year.

Oftentimes located within the manor was a mill used to grind wheat and other grains to make flour. The mill would be located along a stream or river because they ran on waterpower (similar to old-fashioned water wheel). As the wheel turned, the grain would be ground by large stones.

The Manor System

Manor House
The manor house was a large elaborate house where the lord and his family lived. In some instances, the manor was larger than an actual castle. Power could be assessed by the size of the manor estate. The larger the manor estate, the more powerful the Lord. Larger manor estates could also offer more protection against threats and invasions.


The church was a very important part of life in the Middle Ages. Almost everyone practiced Christianity as it was the predominant religion during the time and both serfs and the Lord and his family would attend church in the village. The church also collected tithes, which is a 10% tax on a person’s income, that helped to make the church very wealthy and powerful.

The village would be located near the manor and was where most people (other than Lords and their families) lived. This often included the serfs, who lived in the village in small houses and worked during the day at the manor.

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