Daily Life of
The daily life of Medieval serfs was hard. The Medieval Serfs did not receive
their land as a free gift; for the use of it they owed certain duties to
their master. These took chiefly the form of personal services. Medieval Serfs had to labor on the lord's domain for two or three days each week, and at specially busy seasons, such as ploughing and harvesting,
Medieval Serfs had to do do extra work. The daily life of a serf was dictated by
the requirements of the lord of the manor. At least half his time was usually demanded by the lord.
Medieval Serfs also had to make certain payments, either in money or
more often in grain, honey, eggs, or other produce. When Medieval Serfs ground the wheat
he was obliged to use the lord's mill, and pay the customary charge. In theory the lord could tax his Medieval Serfs as heavily and make them work as hard as he pleased, but the fear of losing his tenants doubtless in most cases prevented him from imposing too great burdens on
the daily life of the serf.
Medieval Serfs Common Use of Non-arable Land
Besides the Medieval Serfs holding of farm land, which in England averaged about thirty acres, each peasant had certain rights over the non-arable land of the manor. He could cut a limited amount of hay from the meadow. He could
turn so many farm animals such as cattle, geese and swine on the waste.
Medieval Serfs also
enjoyed the privilege of taking so much wood from the forest for fuel and
building purposes. A Medieval Serfs's holding, which also included a house in the
village, thus formed a complete outfit.
Medieval Serfs clothing was basic and practical. A Medieval Serfs
clothing or dress consisted of:
A blouse of cloth or
skin fastened by a leather belt round the waist
An overcoat or mantle of
thick woollen material, which fell from his shoulders to half-way
down his legs
Shoes or large boots
Short woollen trousers,
From his belt there hung
a sheath for his knife
Medieval Serfs generally
went bareheaded, but in cold weather or in rain he wore a woollen
Gloves were only worn
for their practical clothing value and were padded for use in tasks
such as hedging
Origin of the Medieval Serfs
Serfdom developed during the later centuries of the Roman Empire and in
the early Middle Ages. Most Medieval Serfs seem to have been the successors, of
Roman slaves, whose condition had gradually improved. Medieval Serfs were also
recruited from the ranks of freemen who, because of the desire to gain
the protection of a lord, became subject to him.
The Oppression of
Serfdom represented a stage between slavery and freedom and therefore
the oppression of Medieval Serfs. A slave
belonged to his master; he was bought and sold like other chattels.
Medieval Serfs had a higher position, for they could not be sold apart from the land nor could his holding be taken from him.
Medieval Serfs were fixed to the soil. On the other
hand Medieval Serfs ranked lower than a freeman, because he could not change his
abode, nor marry outside the manor, nor bequeath his goods, without the permission of his lord.
of Medieval Serfs
Serfdom was destined to be a transitory condition. The emancipation of
the Medieval Serfs occurred over many years. The most important events
which led to the emancipation of the Medieval serf in the England of the
Middle Ages was the Black Death which was followed by the Peasants
revolt. The Black Death claimed nearly a third of the English
population. With fewer people the value of laborers increased which led
to the Peasants Revolt. By
the close of medieval times of the Middle Ages, the Medieval Serfs in most parts of western Europe had secured their freedom
form the shackles of serfdom.