/ / Feudal duties of peasants in the Middle Ages

Feudal duties of peasants in the Middle Ages

В средние века жизнь простых малоимущих крестьян completely dependent on two factors: mister and mother nature. The feudal lord levied taxes (feudal duties), and nature, on its part, also sometimes did not complain: droughts, too cold winters or rainy summers nullified all the peasant’s attempts to get out of poverty and vegetation.

feudal duties
Only the most hardworking and persevering did their best and could improve their position.

What is feudal duty?

The duties of the peasants consisted ofseveral clauses of the contract, at the conclusion of which the feudal lord pledged to provide the peasant and his family with land for living and sowing the field, as well as to protect his land and estate from the attacks of enemies. At the same time, this type of agreement was not a slave-owning one: at any moment the family of a peasant could go to another feudal lord in the service, but the lands that were allocated to him were, of course, taken away.

feudal obligations this
In the medieval history of feudal duties there were several:

  • Corvee.
  • Cash dues in favor of the feudal lord.
  • Church tithe.
  • Other local conditions.


This feudal duty consisted offorced duty to work on the field of the master 2-3 days a week. Sowing and harvesting grain, mowing hay, building and repairing buildings, caring for livestock and many other types of work were a heavy yoke on the neck of a peasant.

peasants' feudal obligations
The feudal lord often violated the conditions of serfdom and delayedin their works of forced servants: while they were bending their backs on the gentleman, a grain of corn was sprinkled on their fields, the vegetables dried up, and unmown hay was spoiled. Barshchina was the most difficult and unprofitable payment for belonging to the lands of the feudal lord, and given that the terms of the contract were constantly violated, this gave rise to unrest and discontent.

Church Tithing

This feudal duty was the most oppressive:It was impossible to get rid of it by ransom or reduce the percentage of payment, each family was obliged to pay the church ten percent of its profits from all activities. It is not surprising that medieval church leaders were drowning in luxury.


The material payment to his master was another feudal obligation for the right to use his land and protection. The rent was of several types:

- Money:A certain amount of money was paid annually to the treasury of the local lord. Peasants received money from the sale of their goods at fairs, which were held every few months. Also, artisans received payment for their work, which they paid dues to the lord.

- Grocery:Payment was made with livestock and poultry products — meat, eggs, milk and manufactured cheeses, honey and wine, vegetables and fruits. Often, in the absence of more, they paid out grain from the harvest.

- Various mixed forms of payment: living creatures, craft items - fabric, yarn and utensils, furs of fur animals or tanned leather

feudal duties history

After all taxes and liabilities have been paida simple peasant remained very little for his needs, but at the same time everyone tried to work as best and as good as possible, so the responsible families slowly and steadily improved their financial situation, and some even managed to buy the land and free themselves from basic duties.

Some types of other obligations

There were other duties that were no less heavy:

  • The right of the first night - the most offensivea commitment that persisted until the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. In some cases, it was possible to pay off this right with a rather large amount of money. In some areas, the practice of “marriage permit” was practiced, under which it was required to obtain from the master (sometimes for a fee) permission to marry a certain woman.
  • The right of the dead hand - if the head of the family died,on which the land was framed, she returned to the feudal lord. But tolls were often used if the family could continue to process it after losing the main breadwinner.
  • Conscription - in time of war, a man in an involuntary family was obliged to stand up to defend the country, the local area or go on a crusade.

In different countries and at different times feudalduties were due to local customs, beliefs and living conditions: somewhere they were more loyal, in other places, on the contrary, they bordered on slavery, violating all human rights, which subsequently caused riots, revolutions and the abolition of feudal law.