Medieval Life - The Manor
Ightham Mote, a 14th-century moated manor house in Kent, photo by Silver149
The parcel of land leased to a Baron by the King was known as a manor. Under the Feudal System, the Baron had complete control of the running of the manor provided he met certain obligations set by the King.
Most of the Barons who were given land by William the Conqueror, following his invasion and conquest of England in 1066, were French. They knew that many Saxons would be hostile to them and so they had to make sure that they could defend themselves. Many chose to build castles on their land and fill them with knights who, under the Feudal System, were bound to protect the Baron and his family. Others established large manor houses.
The church was another central feature of the manor. The religion of the whole of Europe was Roman Catholic and it was law that people went to church on a Sunday. The leading churchmen of the land, Bishops and Archbishops were very wealthy and helped to govern the country. The local priests, however, were much poorer and were often uneducated. It was the priest's job to look after the sick of the village as well as preaching in the church
The manor house was the home of the Baron. Manor houses were large, reflecting the wealth and status of the Lord. They often comprised several buildings and were mainly self-sufficient, growing their own food and keeping animals in the grounds surrounding the house.
Villeins (serfs, peasants)
The largest amount of land on the manor would be used by the villeins. Their house would be surrounded by a yard called a 'toft' and a garden called a 'croft'. This land would be used for growing crops and vegetables, a percentage of which would be given to a knight as 'payment' for their land. Villein's houses were one-roomed and the family shared the space with the animals.
If you think, as some do today, that many drugs used as medicines are potentially deadly, consider what people living in medieval times were prescribed as curative agents—from ground up corpses to toxic mercury to crocodile dung. The annals of medieval medical history are full of substances that make us cringe. Yet people believed in these cure-alls and willingly took them when prescribed by a doctor of the... Read More
The Neo-Assyrian Empire used earthen ramps, siege towers and battering rams in sieges; the Greeks and Alexander the Great created destructive new engines known as artillery to further their sieges, and the Romans used every technique to perfection. That is to say, the Romans were not inventors, but they were superb engineers and disciplined, tough soldiers who fought against great odds and won, repeatedly.... Read More
Demetrius I, King of Macedon, invented many siege engines including battering rams and siege towers. For the Siege of Rhodes, he created the Helepolis, the Taker of Cities, a huge armored siege tower containing many heavy catapults.
The island city of Rhodes maintained its neutrality among the warring nations of the time, although it remained friendly to Ptolemy I of Egypt, the enemy of Demetrius of... Read More
In the first part of this series, we noted the siege equipment of the Assyrians consisted of complex battering rams, earthen ramps and a dedicated corps of engineers and sappers. Alexander the Great and the Greeks would take the next steps in the evolution of siege warfare. The Greeks had invented the catapult circa 399 B.C. Alexander innovated by fastening catapults and ballistas on the decks of ships to breach... Read More
While sieges had taken place earlier than the Neo-Assyrian Empire, such as that between Egyptian Pharoah Thutmose III and Canaanite rebels led by Kadesh at the Megiddo fortress in the 15th century B.C., the Assyrians perfected the art of siege warfare during the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 911 to 609 B.C.
Through war and conquest, Assyria became the most powerful empire the world had yet seen. After the... Read More