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1. (in medieval Europe) the manor house of a lord and the lands attached to it
2. (before 1776 in some North American colonies) a tract of land granted with rights of inheritance by royal charter
3. a manor house



the term for a feudal patrimony in medieval England. Although manors were established before the Norman conquest of England in 1066, they became widespread and uniform throughout the country only after the beginning of the Norman age. A “typical” manor consisted of two parts: the demesne, or lands retained by the lords for their own use, and the lands of the serfs (villeins) and freeholders. In addition, the manor included common lands, most of which were used by all the manor’s inhabitants, but which were considered the personal property of its lord.

The overwhelming majority of the manor’s inhabitants were villeins. The economy of the demesne depended on their labor obligations, and their quitrent in kind satisfied the needs of the lord and was sold by him on the market. The villeins were subject to the jurisdiction of the lord in the manorial court. They were also obliged to pay banalities to the lord. The manor was administered by the lord’s ministerials (the stewards). On the manor all forms of seignorial dependence were encountered: the peasants were personally, legally, and economically dependent on the lord.

By the end of the 13th century, most of the manors were small or middle-sized. As the exchange of money and goods developed, the manorial system declined. Gradually the villeins were emancipated, and the corvee was commuted to cash payments. Demesne lands were either given out to a single major lessee or were broken up into small plots that were rented to small peasant farmers. In the later Middle Ages, as economic relations took on a completely new, bourgeois character, the manor became an empty shell. Manors disappeared in the 18th century, giving way to capitalist forms of landowning. However, their disappearance did not mean the elimination of the virtual monopoly over land-ownership by a minority—the basis of the modern system of landlordism.


Vinogradov, P. G. Issledovaniia po sotsial’noi istorii Anglii v srednie veka. Moscow, 1887.
Vinogradoff, P. The Villenage in England. Oxford, 1892.
Vinogradoff, P. The Growth of the Manor, 2nd ed. London, 1911.
Petrushevskii, D. M. Vosstanie Uota Tailera, 4th ed. Moscow, 1937.
Kosminskii, E. A. Issledovaniia po agrarnoi istorii Anglii XIII v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Barg, M. A. Issledovaniia po istorii angliiskogo feodalizma XI-XIII vv. Moscow, 1962.
Maitland, F. W. Domesday Book and Beyond. Cambridge (England), 1907.


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