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Shepherds Role In Medieval Feudal Society Essay

The manor was a place where all feudal levels lived and worked, making it self-sustaining. The manor had certain key parts which manorialism could not function without. The Manor was made up of multiple villages. All Medieval villages followed the same structure (Gies and Gies 90). The landowner would have a villa, hall and a manor which is known as the ‘big house”. And the serfs would have their own separate places to work; A kitchen, bakery, brew house, forge, small workshops, stables and barns (A. Smith 7). Homes of the peasants were also located in these villages (Cels 4).

Sizes of the manor varied. Small estates could potentially be about 40 acres, while larger estates could stretch for thousands of acres. A decent and more common size was about 1000 acres (A. Smith 7). In order for the serfs to provide for the manor, they had to pay specific rents which the lord profited from, making the manor self-sufficient. Serfs who worked at the mills had to give a yearly rent to use the mill. The millers job was to grind the corn to make bread and the mill was an absolute necessity for them to do this (Bennett, 130).

All millers were also required to give a portion of grain called ulture to the lord (Bennett 133). The bakers had to bake the bread in a communal oven owned by the lord and they were forced to rent the oven. The peasants homes did not have strong structures and were easily flammable which made it near impossible to bake the bread at home and it was forbidden to bake the bread anywhere but the communal oven (Bennett, 135). The serf could not brew or bake or grind corn without the lord’s permission (Bennett 129).

The lord also required the serfs to use the three-field system. This system is when the use of fields would rotate, making the fields more fertile, and mproving the economy (Bennett 77). The Lord, obviously, profited from these needs as it became a crucial factor towards his income (Bennett 133). It also made the Manor self-sufficient because everyone’s needs were met since they provided for the Manor while giving rent to the lord, it all connected towards feudalism. Every Medieval Manor had different core parts because it made the house self-sustaining.

The Manor helps the feudal pyramid by meeting the needs and fulfilling the obligations of the different levels. The serf was able to do his specific job while receiving his necessities. Peasants ould cultivate the land of the manor in exchange for protection from outside threats and a small piece of land for themselves to call home on which they could grow their own crops and build houses (Cels 4). By doing this, everyone on the manor got the food, clothing and tools provided by them. (Cels 6).

The manor also helps the vassals get what they need All manors had the same elements because the owner of the manor received power and wealth. He received wealth from all the products the serfs make and grow such as food and cattle. And he received power from having his own manor house, the hurch and the rents and services he gets by being the lord (Cels 18). By owning a manor, the feudal lord had control over economic, military, religious and political issues on the manor. This means he had control over the land and land was powerful and considered a measure of someone’s wealth.

Land had “permanent value”. By owning land, the manor would be self- sufficient, resulting in a profit for the feudal lord (C. Smith 2). This profit could then be used to recruits more knights, continuing the feudal cycle. The products made by the serf also makes the Knights want to join because they would receive all heir necessities without making it themselves so they would have time to fight in the army (Biel 15). The Manor was a crucial part of feudalism by helping the different classes do their jobs.

The shepherd was a role in the manor played by a serf, whose job was to watch over and care for the animals. The shepherd would watch over a variety of animals, specifically the sheep, for multiple reasons. Sheep were the most common livestock a shepherd would watch because of the value of their wool. Wool was the most common material used for making clothes which eant he had to make sure that the sheep were healthy and strong, so their wool would be better quality (A Medieval How-to Book for Shepherds).

Therefore, it was very important that the shepherd kept the sheep safe from predators such as dogs and wolves (Medieval Life – the Farming Year. ). The shepherd also managed other animals such as pigs, cows and chickens, however, these animals were not as important compared to the sheep. The pigs were kept for their meat. The cows provided milk to be used in dairy products and their hides were used to make leather and the chickens also were used for food (Cels, 3). There were many different ways to handle the sheep and there were many regulations on what the shepherd could do.

Jean de Brie, a shepherd who lived during the medieval times, offers insights on how to handle sheep. He believed “the lambs, young and tender, should be treated kindly and without violence and should not be struck or corrected with switches, sticks or whips nor any other kind of beating that could hurt or bruise them, for they would fall off and become thin and weak. Rather one should lead them gently and kindly by leadership and correction”. This means that you must care for the sheep ithout resorting to violence because it would damage their wool.

Additionally, the month of May, when the pastures bloom with colors and the weather is not too hot or cold, is when you should shear the sheep. The weather allows for more wool to be sheared and the sheep more cooperative. Lastly, when the livestock fall sick and have a swollen throat, usually during March, the shepherd must know exactly how to handle the situation. First you must give salt to help their throats and make them drink a bitter plant. Then place dirt and pebbles or water on their backs, because when they shake them, the animals trangely feel better.

The job of the shepherd is passed down generation to generation. Children usually start practicing with the animals of less importance such as geese, pigs, horses and cows. When they come of age, they are given the responsibility to maintain the sheep. They start off with a handful of sheep and soon they manage multiple of large herds (A Medieval How- to Book for Shepherds). If there passed down to, it is given to someone who is unfit for manual labour since there isn’t much physical work required to watch over animals (Medieval Life – the Farming Year. One tool used by a shepherd is the shepherd’s crook.

This is a necessary tool for shepherds and has evolved over the ages. You would never see a Medieval shepherd without one (Salzman, 91). There are many different versions of the crook but there are mainly two types which you would see among any medieval shepherd (Salzman, 91). The first crook is merely a long a staff with a hook attached at the top which wraps around the sheep’s legs when it strayed from the flock (Postan, 177). The second crook looked like a golf club and it fulfilled the same purpose as a shovel Salzman, 93).

The shepherd would shovel some dirt and throw it towards the sheep to scare the sheep who were on the run (Postan, 177). It was also used to dig up roots that the sheep could eat (Salzman 93). The crook provided support by giving the shepherd balance, something to lean on and helped him walk through rough terrain (Postan 177). As compensation, the shepherd receives the same benefits as the serf. The shepherd is given protection from the lord, he is given his own land which he uses to manage his cattle and to live in with his family (Cels 4).

The shepherd managed the animals as his role upon the no one for this job to be manor. The shepherd’s role in the manor was highly important because of the impact it created upon the feudal economy. The king benefited from the shepherd because he got wealth from the trading of wool. The shepherd’s duty was to care for the sheep so their wool could be sheared and wool was “the backbone and driving force of the medieval English economy”. When it came to trade, wool was considered “the jewel in the realm”. There was a tremendous demand for wool in the markets.

It was mostly used in clothing. Almost everyone who owned land had someone raising their sheep, also known as the shepherd. As wool gained more value, the nobles actually counted their wealth by the number of sheep they had. Wool played such a big role in the economy that a law was made that all men, expect nobles, were required to wear a woolen cap to church on sundays. It was part of a plan, made by the government, to aid the wool industry. With the money from the trading of wool, the king would be able to buy more soldiers to join his army, thus, the repeating the feudal cycle.

Kings taxed every bundle of ood which was exported, creating a huge profit for the nobles. The first king to do this was King Edward I. The wool trade was so popular, that he was able to fund military expeditions using the tax money. Lavenham in Suffolk, a small town in medieval England, was the fourteenth most wealthiest town in all of England. This was because it’s wool trade was highly successful, allowing fine buildings and beautiful churches to be made. Lavenham was known as the best example of a medieval wool town. One city known as Leeds is said to have been “built on wool”.

Leeds had many mechanical mills, the largest anyone has ver seen, and wool was the raw material needed to “feed the savage beast”. Many roads, canals and railway systems were built around Leeds and connected it to the oceans, allowing the wool to be easily imported to the city. This supported the wool industry because it helped the rising British Empire to gain profit from the large amounts of wools being shipped, therefore boosting the economy. Wool was highly valued in the trading business, therefore, it improved the economy of feudalism and the king was able to create more armies, which was the basis of feudalism (Johnson).

The shepherd was an important asset for the manor and helped the military by keeping the feudal society alive and functioning. The shepherd helped provide for the manor, improving the feudal economy in the process. The manor became selfsufficient as a result of the shepherd’s work, which helped it support feudalism. Feudalism was a system based on giving land in exchange for loyalty and was an acting government for the Middle Ages. Feudalism was a very important part of history, it created a government in the midst of complete chaos throughout Rome, and without it, our lives would have differentiated greatly.

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