1Lectures 20 and 21Medieval and Renaissance Agriculture in EuropeThe breakdown of the Roman Empire by the “barbarians” of the North resulted in the destruction of the large cities but left the rural areas and organizations relatively intact. The villa rusticaof the Romans became the estates or demesne (domain) of medieval times, presided over by a lord who owned the land and lived in a manor house. His land worked by tenants, some free, some slave, lived in small houses that became known as the village. A feudal society developed which involved the relation between land and the people who owned and worked it. There was an exchange of service for protection under a hereditary system. The lord of the manor who owned the land (reflected in our word landlord) was served by the ten-ant farmers or vassals who offered homage (an acknowledgement of the situation), fealty (allegiance and faithfulness), and owed a debt of labor, usually one day per week (the corvee). The lord of the manor was to develop the same exchange of protection for support to his leader, eventually king, who ultimately owed his vassalage only to God. But the situation was unstable (read Macbeth).
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