By Edward Potts Cheyney
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Extra resources for An Introduction to the Industrial and Social History of England
Some, holding only a half or a quarter virgate, are spoken of as half or quarter villains. Again, a numerous class are described by some name indicating that they hold only a dwellinghouse, or at least that their holding of land is but slight. These are generally spoken of as cotters. SEAL, WITH REPRESENTATION OF A MANOR HOUSE. ) All these tenants hold land from the lord of the manor and make payments and perform services in return for their land. The free tenants most commonly make payments in money only.
These elements of independence were not all possessed by every town, and some had special privileges not enumerated in the above list. The first charter of a town was apt to be vague and inadequate, but from time to time a new charter was obtained giving additional privileges and defining the old rights more clearly. Nor had all those who dwelt within the town limits equal participation in its advantages. These were usually restricted to those who were known as citizens or burgesses; full citizenship depending primarily on the possession of a house and land within the town limits.
Meadow land was constantly estimated at twice the value of arable ground or more. To obtain a sufficient support for the oxen, horses, and breeding animals through the winter required, therefore, a constant struggle. Owing to this difficulty animals that were to be used for food purposes were regularly killed in the fall and salted down. Much of the unhealthiness of medieval life is no doubt attributable to the use of salt meat as so large a part of what was at best a very monotonous diet. OPEN FIELDS OF HAYFORD BRIDGE, OXFORDSHIRE, 1607.
An Introduction to the Industrial and Social History of England by Edward Potts Cheyney