The Influence Of Serfs On Feudal Society

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As the lowest in the social hierarchy, serfs, one of the two classes of the peasantry, were also an integral part of feudal society. Serfs agreed to serve the lord because what they received in exchange fulfilled their needs. It was dangerous for them to live alone in the countryside where bandits could kill, attack, and steal (Ahlin 1). Peasants who could not defend themselves agreed to become serfs in return for the protection provided by the lord, which allowed them to live behind his walls in safety (Ahlin 1). In addition to this military protection they received legal protection and the right to draw water from the lord’s rivers, cut trees from his forest, and use the pastures (Nardo 25). Also, serfs were given their own plot of land to…show more content…
Serfs paid back for what the lord gave them by providing labor, primarily. The specific services asked for included farming fields, caring for livestock, and other tasks on the manor (Nardo 27). The amount of labor that was required of serfs varied from manor to manor and based on the amount of land the serf farmed for himself (Bennett 103). What was common, however, was that serfs owed two types of work to their lord: week-works and boon works (Bennett 106). Week-works were the work that was done on a weekly basis, and boon works were done as extra labor occasionally throughout the year (Bennett 106). Even during the period between plowing/sowing and harvest, when there was less field work to be done, the contracts usually specified enough work to keep the serfs busy for the days of work that they owed the lord (Bennett 108). This work could include fertilizing the fields with manure, weeding, caring for the lord’s garden, digging ditches, mending fences, fetching apples, reeds, or something else, and caring for the lord’s animals (Bennett 108). In addition to labor, serfs also owed various taxes and payments to their…show more content…
The Great Chain of Being was a religious concept that had many different components. It stressed the fact that everything in the universe had a preordained place in the Chain, which showed the order of progression that all things were a part of (Melani). The more spiritual aspects something had, the higher up it was, and those with more matter and less spirit were lower on the chain (Melani). At the bottom of the chain were the elements, then came plants, followed by animals, then humans, then angels, and at the top was God (Melani). Within each of these categories there were subcategories (Melani). For example, gold was considered higher and nobler than lead, and similarly certain people were considered to be higher up than others (Melani). Furthermore, there was a fluidity to the chain (Melani). It was believed that the lowest of people were almost animals, the lowest of animals were almost plants, and such (Melani). Also ingrained with the concept of the Great Chain of Being was the concept of correspondence in the universe. The structure of the human body was said to represent and correspond with the structure of the universe (Melani). Along with this concept went the idea that when disorder was present in one area, things would go wrong in other areas as well (Melani). In particular, the areas that this was thought to apply to were family, state, and nature (Melani). The Great
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