Manorial System, Commoners, Peasants Illustration

Middle Ages for Kids
Manorial System
& Common People


The common people were divided into peasants and serfs. There was a huge difference between being a peasant and being a a serf.

Serfs were bound to the land. They were almost like slaves. The people could not be bought and sold, but they could not leave their land without permission. Their land could be bought and sold. The land and all the food they grew belonged to the manor (noble).

A serf's job was whatever the noble told them it was, carpenter, blacksmith, baker, farmer, and tax collector, serfs did it all. A serf could buy their own freedom if they could get the money, but where could they get the money? They were uneducated and mostly unskilled.

Peasants were free sort of. Sometimes they owned their own business or small plot of land, again most were uneducated and unskilled. They were in the same boat as the serfs.

Taxes: Everyone had to pay taxes. The peasants paid taxes to the lord or noble; they paid taxes up to the local duke or count who paid taxes to the king. Sometimes the taxes were paid in crops, sometimes in money, plus they had to set aside a number of days every year to work for the noble.

Festivals: Festivals were a big deal. This was the only time a peasant or serf could relax and socialize. All Festivals were church festivals usually to honor a saint or holy day. At a festival, a peasant could watch a play or take part in contests like archery or wrestling, and maybe even see a juggler or magician. The noble paid the local church to put on the festival.

Power of the Church: During medieval times, the church was all powerful. The only way to get to heaven was to follow the Bible. However, since most people couldn't read. the local priest had to read it to them. The local priest could tell people that the Bible told them how to behave, who to obey, even who to marry.

Since they knew nothing else, most peasants were content. They had a local noble to protect them from bandits and warfare. Plus normally everyone in the local village all shared in whatever food there was. Life was hard, but most people were content.

The Manorial System

Life on the Manor

Life of a Medieval Peasant (thinkquest)