The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses

By Paul Murray Kendall | Go to book overview

6
Lords and Gentry

THE life of the land changed least. Probably nine of every ten subjects of King Edward IV dwelt in the country; and their lives were framed, like the lives of their forefathers and of their sons, by the round of the seasons, the boundaries of the manor, and the custom of the manor court. Though the realm was officially divided into shires, sokes, 'honours' and 'liberties' (where the lord's writ ran supreme), hundreds, and boroughs--rural England was, organically, a web of manors. The great house, or abbey, dominated the social skyline; the master of the manor ruled a little enclave of officers, servants, tenants, and sub-tenants.

A man of the fourteenth century riding through the countryside of the Yorkist Age would find much that was familiar.

Many a manor house was still surrounded by two or three great open fields, the lord's demesne and peasant holdings, separated into strips by balks of sod. Peasants, bond or free, lived in a huddle of cottages and ploughed the land with scrawny oxen. On the common meadows they pastured a cow and a few sheep; and in the woods and waste beyond, they kept a pig or two 'going' and took branches 'by hook or crood' for firewood and repairs.

In the late autumn the peasant ploughed the demesne, on his days of labour service, and his own strips for the planting of wheat. Not long after Candlemas (February 2) he was ploughing again, since oats and peas were sown around Easter. Then it was time to put in the barley. Oxen rather than horses dragged the plough: they were more manageable and cheaper and when they were past service they provided meat. In the harvest season the peasant cut the lord's grain, closely watched by bailiff and reeve

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The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 11
  • Principal Persons 15
  • Prologue - The Times 21
  • 1 - The Mayor 51
  • 1 - The Mayor: at Home 53
  • 2 - The Mayor: Abroad 88
  • 3 - Rebel Against the Mayor 117
  • 4 - The Lord Mayor of London 134
  • II - Other Important People 159
  • 5 - The King and the Royal Household 161
  • 6 - Lords and Gentry 194
  • 7 - Churchmen and the Church 244
  • 8 - Merchants, Pirates, Aliens and Lawyers 281
  • III - The Household 329
  • 9 - The Fabric of Life 331
  • 10 - The Marriage Hunt 364
  • II - Wives 401
  • 12 - Children 434
  • Epilogue 463
  • Bibliography 505
  • Index 515
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