The Town Under a Medieval LordCategory: 13th century
PRIVILEGES OF THE MEDIEVAL TOWNS
The people of the first towns were not free.
All the land in feudal England was divided into manors and the lord of the manor governed the townspeople who lived on his land and made them perform feudal services.
Now we shall read about the privileges the medieval towns gained that made them independent of the lord’s power and how this came about.
The Town Under a Medieval Lord
The land on which the towns grew belonged either to the king, baron, or abbot, and the people of the first towns had to pay for it by working for the lord of the manor. Like the serfs of the manor the town craftsmen and merchants were obliged to work three days a week for their lord and to perform boon-work and to pay quit-rent in money or in corn, herrings, honey and other things. They also paid to have their corn ground at the lord’s mill. It was the king’s sheriff or the baron’s steward who administered justice in the town and collected dues from the townsmen.
The lord’s power over the towns greatly hampered the development of crafts and trade and the townspeople wanted to free themselves of the services for the lord. They also wanted the right to manage their own affairs, that is, to choose their own officials and not to be under the king’s sheriff or the lord’s steward. They also wanted to administer justice themselves. In the 12th and the 13th centuries throughout England towns were fighting for their freedom against the feudal lords.