Subsidiary SourcebooksAfricanEastern AsianGlobalIndianJewishIslamicLesbian/GayScienceWomen

Special ResourcesByzantiumMedieval MusicSaints' Lives
Ancient Law
Medieval Law
Film: Ancient
Film: Medieval
Film: Modern

About IHSPIHSP Credits

Medieval Sourcebook:
Manorial Management & Organization, c. 1275

The Office of the Steward (From The Seneschaucy): The steward of lands ought to be prudent and faithful and profitable, and he ought to know the law of the realm, to protect his lord's business and to instruct and give assurance to the bailiffs who are beneath him in their difficulties. He ought two or three times a year to make his rounds and visit the manors of his stewardship, and then he ought to inquire about the rents, services, and customs, hidden or withdrawn, and about franchises of courts, lands, woods, meadows, pastures, waters, mills, and other things which belong to the manor and are done away with without warrant, by whom, and how: and if he be able let him amend these things in the right way without doing wrong to any, and if he be not, let him show it to his lord, that he may deal with it if he wish to maintain his right.

The steward ought, at his first coming to the manors, to cause all the demesne lands of each to be measured by true men, and he ought to know by the perch of the country how many acres there are in each field, and thereby he can know how much wheat, rye, barley, oats, peas, beans, and dredge one ought by right to sow in each acre, and thereby can one see if the provost or the hayward account for more seed than is right, and thereby can he see how many plows are required on the manor, for each plow ought by right to plow nine score acres, that is to say: sixty for winter seed, sixty for spring seed, and sixty in fallow. Also he can see how many acres ought to be plowed yearly by boon or custom, and how many acres remain to be tilled by the plows of the manor. And further, he can see how many acres ought to be reaped by boon and custom, and how many for money. And if there be any cheating in the sowing, or plowing, or reaping, he shall easily see it. And he must cause all the meadows and several pastures to be measured by acres, and thereby can one know the cost, and how much hay is necessary every year for the sustenance of the manor, and how much stock can be kept on the several pasture, and how much on the common.

The steward has no power to remove a bailiff or servant who is with the lord, and clothed and kept by him, without the special order of the lord, for so he would make of the head the tail; but if the bailiff be less capable or less profitable than he ought to be, or if he have committed trespass or offence in his office, let it be shown to the lord and to his council, and he shall do as he shall think

good. The steward should not have power to sell wardship, or marriage, or escheat, nor to dower any lady or woman, nor to take homage or suit, nor to sell or make free a villein without special warrant from his lord. And the steward ought not to be chief accountant for the things of his office, for he ought on the account of each manor to answer for his doings and commands and improvements, and for fines and amercements of the courts where he has held pleas as another, because no man can or ought to be judge or justice of his own doings.

The steward ought, on his coming to each manor, to see and inquire how they are tilled, and in what crops they are, and how the cart-horses and avers, oxen, cows, sheep, and swine are kept and improved. And if there be loss or damage from want of guard, he ought to take fines from those who are to blame, so that the lord may not lose. The steward ought to see that each manor is properly stocked, and if there be overcharge on any manor more than the pasture can bear, let the overcharge be moved to another manor where there is less stock. And if the lord be in want of money to pay debts due, or to make a purchase at a particular term, the steward ought before the term, and before the time that need arise, to look to the manors from which he can have money at the greatest advantage and smallest loss, for if he will not provide, he will often lose.

The steward ought, on his coming to the manors, to inquire how the bailiff bears himself within and without, what care he takes, what improvement he makes, and what increase and profit there is in the manor in his office, because of his being there. And also of the provost, and hayward, and keeper of cattle, and all other offices, how each bears himself towards him, and thereby he can be more sure who makes profit and who harm. Also he ought to provide that there should be no waste or destruction on any manor, or overcharge of anything belonging to the manor. He ought to remove all those that are not necessary for the lord, and all the servants who do nothing, and all overcharge in the dairy, and other profitless and unreasonable offices which are called wrong outlays, without profit. The steward ought, on his coming to the manors, to inquire about wrong-doings and trespasses done in parks, ponds, warrens, conygarths, and dove-houses, and of all other things which are done to the loss of the lord in his office.

The Office of Reeve (From The Hosebonderie):The reeve must cause all the hair of the avers to be gathered to make ropes for which he shall have need, and he must cause hemp to be sown in the court to make ropes for the wagons, for harness and other necessary things, and an allowance must be paid for making them if there is anyone in the court who knows how to do so. For repairing houses, walls, hedges, and ditches, if need be an allowance must be paid according to what is right. And the reeve must not buy, sell, receive, or deliver anything unless by tally and good witness. And the reeve must make all the servants of the court when they come for their labor work in the court in threshing corn or making walls or ditches or hedges or other works in the court to save money. And if there is a servant who knows how to do work in the court for which it would be necessary to pay another highly, let him do the work and pay another in his place. The seneschals or head-bailiffs ought to see all purchases and all sales that the provosts or under-bailiffs make to see that they are well made and to the lord's profit. And the seneschals and chief bailiffs who hold court must, immediately after Michaelmas, give up their rolls to the lord or the auditor of the account that they may be able to charge by these rolls the provosts and bailiffs who must account for the purchases of the court throughout the year.

And the reeve must answer for the issue of the mares of the court, that is to say, for each mare one foal in the year, and if there be any which has no foal let it be inquired if it be by bad keeping, or want of food, or too hard work, or want of stallion, or because it was barren, that she bore no foal; and if she could have been changed for another in time and it was not done, let him be charged fully for the issue or the value. And if there be any horse or beast dead in the court, let it be inquired if it was for want of keeping or because the bailiff and reeve could have saved it or made any amendment and did not, let them pay it themselves, and if they died by mishap that they could not help, as murrain which falls sometimes on beasts, the reeve must answer for the skins and hides and flesh and issues, and put it to the profit of the lord | as well as he knows or is able. And if there be anything lost in the court or without, or stolen, whether it be live or dead, small or great, where the lord can have any kind of loss, either by fire or any other way, the lord must take (the value) from the reeve

and the reeve must take it from those of the court who may be to blame. And make it known that all the servants of the court, men and women, ought to obey the reeve, because he must answer for their doings, and the reeve must put those in the court for whose doings he will be answerable. And the steward must see that the reeve has good pledges for all those in the court who are put there by him, and if the lord receive any damage by the reeve, and the reeve cannot make good the damage, all those of the township who elected him shall make up for him the amount he cannot pay. And if the lord place any parker or messer or granger or other, whoever he be, and the lord receive damage from any of these he places, he must take the value from them, because he put them there, and nothing from the reeve. Make it known that on the manors which are kept by bailiffs they must answer for the manor, just as the reeve renders account even so must he render account for everything, and move and change nothing as the reeve. All those who hold in villeinage on a manor must elect as reeve such a one as they will answer for, for if the lord suffer any loss by the fault of the reeve, and he have not of his own goods the wherewithal to make it good, they shall pay for him the surplus which he cannot pay.

The Office of Hayward (From The Seneschaucy):The hayward ought to be an active and sharp man, for he must, early and late, look after and go round and keep the woods, corn, and meadows, and other things belonging to his office, and he ought to make attachments and approvements faithfully, and make the delivery by pledge before the reeve, and deliver them to the bailiff to be heard. And he ought to sow the lands, and be over the plowers and harrowers at the time of each sowing. And he ought to make all the boon-tenants and customary-tenants who are bound and accustomed to come, do so, to do the work they ought to do. And in haytime he ought to be over the mowers, the making, the carrying, and in August assemble the reapers and the boon-tenants and the laborers and see that the corn be properly and cleanly gathered; and early and late watch so that nothing be stolen or eaten by beasts or spoilt. And he ought to tally with the reeve all the seed, and boon-work, and customs, and labor, which ought to be done in the manor throughout the year, and what it amounts to the bailiff tallies and accounts for, and they ought to answer on the account for the rest.

Surveying Lands & Tenements (From Walter of Henley): Survey your lands and tenements by true and sworn men. First survey your courts, gardens, dove-houses, curtilages, what they are worth yearly beyond the valuation; and then how many acres are in the demesne, and how much is in each cultura, and what they should be worth yearly; and how many acres of pasture, and what they are worth yearly; and all other several pastures, and what they are worth yearly; and wood, what you can sell without loss and destruction, and what it is worth yearly beyond the return; and free tenants, how much each holds and by what service; and customary tenants, how much each holds and by what services, and let customs be put in money. And of all other definite things put what they are worth yearly. And by the surveyors inquire with how much of each sort of corn you can sow an acre of land, and how much cattle you can have on each manor. By the extent you should be able to know how much your lands are worth yearly, by which you can order your living, as I have said before. Further, if your bailiffs or provosts say in their account that so many quarters have been sown on so many acres, go to the extent, and perhaps you shall find fewer acres than they have told you and more quarters sown than was necessary. For you have at the end of the extent the quantity of each kind of corn with which one shall sow an acre of land. Further, if it is necessary to put out more money or less for plows, you shall be confirmed by the extent. How? I will tell you. If your lands are divided in three, one part for winter seed, the other part for spring seed, and the third part fallow,

then is a plowland nine score acres. And if your lands are divided in two, as in many places, the one half sown with winter seed and spring seed, the other half fallow, then shall a plowland be eight score acres. Go to the extent and see how many acres you have in the demesne, and there you should be confirmed.

Plowing and Cultivating (From Walter of Henley): Some men will tell you that a plow cannot work eight score or nine score acres yearly, but I will show you that it can. You know well that a furlong ought to be forty perches long and four wide, and the king's perch is sixteen feet and a half; then an acre is sixty-six feet in width. Now in plowing go thirty-six times round to make the ridge narrower, and when the acre is plowed then you have made seventy-two furlongs, which are six leagues, for be it known that twelve furlongs are a league. And the horse or ox must be very poor that cannot from the morning go easily in pace three leagues in length from his starting-place and return by three o'clock. And I will show you by another reason that it can do as much. You know that there are in the year fifty-two weeks. Now take away eight weeks for holy days and other hindrances, then are there forty-four working weeks left. And in all that time the plow shall only have to plow for fallow or for spring or winter sowing three roods and a half daily, and for second fallowing an acre. Now see if a plow were properly kept and followed, if it could not do as much daily. And if you have land on which you can have cattle, take pains to stock it as the land requires. And know for truth if you are duly stocked, and your cattle well guarded and managed, it shall yield three times the land by the extent. If free tenants or customary tenants deny services or customs you will see the definite amount in the extent.

At the beginning of fallowing and second fallowing and of sowing let the bailiff, and the messer, or the provost, be all the time with the plowmen, to see that they do their work well and thoroughly, and at the end of the day see how much they have done, and for so much shall they answer each day after unless they can show a sure hindrance. And because customary servants neglect their work it is necessary to guard against their fraud; further, it is necessary that they are overseen often; and besides the bailiff must oversee all, that they all work well, and if they do not well let them be reproved.

You know surely that an acre sown with wheat takes three plowings, except lands which are sown yearly; and that, one with the other, each plowing is worth sixpence, and harrowing a penny, and on the acre it is necessary to sow at least two bushels. Now two bushels at Michaelmas are worth at least twelve pence, and weeding a halfpenny, and reaping five pence, and carrying in August a penny; the straw will pay for the threshing. At three times your sowing you ought to have six bushels, worth three shillings, and the cost amounts to three shillings and three halfpence, and the ground is yours and not reckoned.

You can well have three acres weeded for a penny, and an acre of meadow mown for fourpence, and an acre of waste meadow for threepence-halfpenny, and an acre of meadow turned and raised for a penny-halfpenny, and an acre of waste for a penny-farthing. And know that five men can well reap and bind two acres a day of each kind of corn, more or less. And where each takes twopence a day then you must give five pence an acre, and when four take a penny-halfpenny a day and the fifth twopence, because he is binder, then you must give fourpence for the acre. And, because in many places they do not reap by the acre, one can know by the reapers and by the work done what they do, but keep the reapers by the band, that is to say, that five men or women, whichever you will, who are called half men, make a band, and twenty-five men make five bands, and twenty-five men can reap and bind ten acres a day working all day, and in ten days a hundred acres, and in twenty days two hundred acres by five score. And see then how many acres there are to reap throughout, and see if they agree with the days and pay them then, and if they account for more days than is right according to this reckoning, do not let them be paid, for it is their fault that they have not reaped the amount and have not worked so well as they ought.

Animal Husbandry (From Walter of Henley): Sort out your cattle once a year between Easter and Whitsuntide---that is to say, oxen, cows, and herds---and let those that are not to be kept be put to fatten; if you lay out money to fatten them with grass you will gain. And know for truth that bad beasts cost more than good. Why? I will tell you. If it be a draft beast he must be more thought of than the other and more spared, and because he is spared the others are burdened for his lack. And if you must buy cattle buy them between Easter and Whitsuntide, for then beasts are spare and cheap. And change your horses before they are too old and worn out or maimed, for with little money you can rear good and young ones, if you sell and buy in season. It is well to know how one ought to keep cattle, to teach your people, for when they see that you understand it they will take the more pains to do well.

If your cows were sorted out, so that the bad were taken away, and your cows fed in pasture of salt marsh, then ought two cows to yield a wey of cheese, and half a gallon of butter a week. And if they were fed in pasture of wood, or in meadows after mowing, or in stubble, then three cows ought to yield a wey of cheese and half a gallon of butter a week between Easter and Michaelmas without rewayn. And twenty ewes which are fed in pasture of salt marsh ought to and can yield cheese and butter as the two cows before named. And if your sheep were fed with fresh pasture or fallow, then ought thirty ewes to yield butter and cheese as the three cows before named. Now there are many servants and provosts and dairymaids who will contradict this thing, and that is because they give away and waste and consume the milk; and know for certainty the milk is not wasted otherwise but in the same thing, for so much they ought to and can yield, for I have proved it. And you will see it with regard to the three cows that ought to make a wey. One of these cows would be poor, from which one could not have in two days a cheese worth a halfpenny; that would be in six days three cheeses, price three halfpence. And the seventh day shall help the tithe and the waste there may be. Now that will be three halfpence in twenty-four weeks which are between Easter and Michaelmas--that is, three shillings. Now put as much for the second cow, and as much for the third, and then you will have nine shillings, and thereby you have a wey of cheese by ordinary sale. Now one of these three cows would be poor, from which one could not have the third of a pottle of butter a week, and if the gallon of butter is worth sixpence then is the third of a pottle worth a penny.

If you wish to farm out the issue of your stock, you can take four-and-sixpence clear for each cow and acquit the tithe, and save for yourself the cow and calf; and for a sheep sixpence and acquit the tithe, and keep the sheep and lamb; and a sow should bring you six shillings and sixpence a-year and acquit the tithe, and save for yourself the sow; and each goose ought to bring you seven pence- halfpenny clear and acquit the tithe and save the goose; and each hen should bring you nine pence clear and acquit the tithe and save the hen. And ten quarters of apples and pears should yield seven

tuns of cider; and a quarter of nuts should yield four gallons of oil. And each hive of bees ought to yield for two hives a-year, one with another, for some yield nothing and others three or four a-year,

and in some places they are given nothing to eat all winter and in some they are fed then, and where they are fed you can feed eight hives all winter with a gallon of honey; and if you only collect the

honey every two years, you should have two gallons of honey from each hive.

Arranging the Sojourn for the Year (From The Rules of Robert Grosseteste): Every year, at Michaelmas, when you know the measure of all your corn, then arrange your sojourn for the whole of that year, and for how many weeks in each place, according to the seasons of the year, and the advantages of the country in flesh and in fish, and do not in any wise burden by debt or long residence the places where you sojourn, but so arrange your sojourns that the place at your departure shall not remain in debt, but something may remain on the manor, whereby the manor can raise money from increase of stock, and especially cows and sheep, until your stock acquits your wines, robes, wax, and all your wardrobe, and that will be in a short time if you hold and act after this treatise as you can see plainly in this way. The wool of a thousand sheep in good pasture at the least ought to yield fifty marks a year, the wool of two thousand a hundred marks, and so forth, counting by thousands. The wool of a thousand sheep in scant pasture ought at the least to yield forty marks, in coarse and poor pasture thirty marks. I advise that at two seasons of the year you make your principal purchases, that is to say your wines, and your wax, and your wardrobe, at the fair of St. Botolph, what you shall spend in Lindsey and in Norfolk, in the Vale of Belvoir, and in the country

of Caversham, and in that at Southampton for Winchester, and Somerset at Bristol; your robes purchase at St. Ives.


From: Elizabeth Lamond, trans., Walter of Henley's Husbandry, (London: Longmans, Green, 1890), pp. 7-11, 19, 23-27, 63-69, 79-81, 85-89, 103, 105, 145, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (New York: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 32-36, 50-55, 68-69.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright.Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, September 1998


The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 20 January 2021 [CV]