Wharram Percy/Feudal System

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The King

Philip II and Richard Lionheart receiving the keys to Acra

The Feudal System was introduced by King William I after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when he became King of England. William said that he owned all of the land in England having killed many of the Saxon Earls and taken the land from most of the others he had defeated. He gave large estates to the Norman Barons who had supported him at Hastings as a rewards for loyal service and also to keep them on his side in future. It is is now 1196 and Richard is our King, though he has spent years away at the Crusades and fighting in France, and the same system is used today.

The Barons - Tenants in Chief

Today in 1196 the Barons still control about half the land in England. The most powerful Baron of all is John who is King Richard's brother. As King Richard is away so often at the wars John seems to rule England. In return for their land from the King each baron has to provide trained knights for the army for 40 days in each year. This is how Kings since William have raised an army. The Barons gave land (the Manors) to the Knights who fought with them at Hastings as a reward. Our Lord of the Manor's ancestor fought with King William at the Battle of Hastings.

Knights – Lords of the Manor

In return for his land the Knight has to serve in the army for 40 days a year. He spends most of his time training young Knights to serve the King. They have tournaments at the Manor which we are allowed to watch. His Steward and Bailiffs run the farming on the estates. The hard work, that's where we peasants come in.

The Peasants - Villeins and Freemen

You know a lot about me and my family already. We are allowed to live on the Manor and farm some land for our food and in return we have to do work for the Lord whenever we are told to. It's a little better for the Freemen but even they dare not annoy the Lord or his officials. We villeins are little better than slaves, we need permission to marry or move village and have to pay the lord for almost everything. To marry, he has the choice of our animals when we die, we have to give him a hen at Christmas and eggs at Easter. All we ever do is work it seems.

Interactive Exercises

Feudal System

Under the English feudal system, the king was the only absolute "owner" of land. All nobles, knights and other tenants, were vassals, which merely "held" land from the king, who was thus at the top of the "feudal pyramid". When feudal land grants were of indefinite or indeterminate duration, such grants were deemed freehold.

Heavy Metal

Match the objects with their English names!

Blacksmith anvil hammer.svg anvil
Horseshoe.jpg horseshoe
Chain (PSF).jpg chain
Roman nails (FindID 549273).jpg nails
Roman candle holder Bonn Germany (669278458).jpg candle holder
Cutlery for children.jpg knife, fork and spoons