Freedom or Security?

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Freedom or Security?

On the other hand, freeholder and copyholder were still subjected to the rules of common husbandry in most districts; and the standard of living of the masses does not seem to have risen very much, if at all.

Owing to centuries of ineffectual manuring, the productivity of the soil seems to have fallen off, so that the people, for all their freedom, may have been poorer in the fifteenth century than their ancestors in the thirteenth.

Moreover, many copyholders were less secure than the villein had been; for the tenant's freedom from labour services had another side.

The lord was no longer directly dependent on those services for his support, but only on money rents; and he might find, in an age when sale and exchange were ever becoming more important, a means of making more money than he could ever get as a mere landlord.


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Villein into Copyholder

By the end of the fifteenth century, the word "manor" no longer stood for a quasi-political unit of re1aionship between lord and tenant but merely for a means of exacting rent or tribute, as it had always been, e.g. in Kent. Another way of looking at this is to say that though villeinage was by no means extinct even in the reign of Elizabeth, it had already ceased to have real importance.

The average peasant (in so far as we can speak of such a person) at the end of the Wars of the Roses, was a free man. He might sue his lord in the King's court; he was no longer subject to labour services... see: Villein into Copyholder


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