Feudal systems closely connected governance and land tenure. It was based on the relationship between two free men, a lord and a vassal. The lord gave the use of his land, rights and privileges to his vassal in return for a variety of services, including military service, money, labour, something symbolic, or prayers. Over time services were commuted to money rents.
A hierarchy of ownership developed with the monarch as the ultimate lord. The king’s vassals could pass on rights and privileges to their own vassals.
Feudal systems arose in parts of Europe between the 10th and 12th centuries. In England the feudal system was finally abolished on 1 January 1926 by the Law of Property Act 1922 and related acts.
Feudal is derived from medieval Latin feudum , feodum or French féodal.
The lord of the manor was both the owner of the landed estate and governor of the jurisdiction that comprised the manor.
A lord of the manor is not a lord in the aristocratic sense. Holders of manors granted directly by the king were barons by tenure in early medieval times, but this title did not confer any privileges beyond those associated with the manor. The titles of baron created by writ or patent are unrelated to manorial tenure. So a lord of the manor is not a member of the House of Lords or the nobility unless they posses other additional titles.
The land and associated rights (e.g. mining, shooting) of a manor could be divided or cease to be part of the manor through a change in tenure or sale. The lordship of a manor could not be divided as it is vested in one person, the owner of the remaining manorial land. No new manorial rights could be created after the abolition of manorial tenure in 1925, and rights that have not been registered after 2013 may cease. (Source: Land Registry, Practice Guide 22-Manors)
In legal documents, the Latin word for the lord of the manor is dominus.
© Sue Adams 2014