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The Middle Ages - Online

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The Magna Carta
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In 1215, the English
barons formed an
alliance that forced
King John to sign the
Magna Carta. It limited
the king's powers of
taxation and required
trials by jury. It was the
first time that an
English monarch was
subject to the law.
The Peasants
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At the lowest level of
society were the
peasants, also called
serfs or villeins.
The lord offered his
peasants protection in
exchange for living and
working on his land.
Hard Work & High Taxes
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Peasants worked hard to
cultivate the land and
produce the goods that
the lord and his manor
needed.
They were heavily taxed
and were required to
relinquish much of what
they harvested.
Bound by law and custom…
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It is the custom in England, as with other
countries, for the nobility to have great power
over the common people, who are serfs. This
means that they are bound by law and custom
to plough the field of their masters, harvest
the corn, gather it into barns, and thresh and
winnow the grain; they must also mow and
carry home the hay, cut and collect wood, and
perform all manner of tasks of this kind.
-- Jean Froissart, 1395
MEDIEVAL LIFE
Cooperation and Mutual
Obligations
KING
MANORIALISM:
ECONOMIC SYSTEM
FEUDALISM:
POLITICAL SYSTEM
Fief and Peasants
 Decentralized, local
government
 Dependent upon the
relationship between
members of the nobility
 Lord and his vassals
administered justice
and were the highest
authority in their land
 Agriculture the basis for
wealth
 Lands divided up into
self-sufficient manors
 Peasants (serfs) worked
the land and paid rent In
exchange for protection
 Barter the usual form of
exchange
Military Aid
Loyalty
LORDS (VASSALS TO KING)
Food
Protection
Shelter
Military Service
Homage
KNIGHTS (VASSALS TO LORDS)
Food
Protection
Farm the
Land
PEASANTS (SERFS)
Shelter
Pay
Rent
Women: Household Chores
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Whether they were
nobles or peasants,
women held a difficult
position in society.
They were largely
confined to household
tasks such as cooking,
baking bread, sewing,
weaving, and spinning.
Hunting & Fighting
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However, they also
hunted for food and
fought in battles,
learning to use
weapons to defend
their homes and
castles.
Other Occupations
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Some medieval women
held other occupations.
There were women
blacksmiths,
merchants, and
apothecaries.
Midwives, Farmers, & Artists
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Others were
midwives, worked in
the fields, or were
engaged in creative
endeavors such as
writing, playing
musical instruments,
dancing, and painting.
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