Medieval castles housed the lord and his family.
Medieval castles housed the lord and his family.

In the Middle Ages, a lord was a man who held land directly from the king. Although medieval lords constituted around one percent of the population, they occupied a position of status and power within medieval society as a result of their economic relationship with the king. With this power, however, came a series of responsibilities to both the king and the people of his manor.

Manor

A medieval lord lived on a manor generally the size of a village and part of the lord's lands granted by the king. Often built of stone, the manor house or castle provided accommodation for a lord and his family, and its size was indicative of a lord's wealth. The Great Hall was the heart of the house and was used for meetings and as a dining room. Many manor houses also had a chapel or prayer room for worship.

Lifestyle

As wealthy landowners, medieval lords had a good standard of living. They wore clothes made of the finest fabrics and entertained friends with lavish feasts of meat and expensive spices. As educated individuals, lords often spoke more than one language and had an appreciation of the arts, like poetry and music. In their leisure time, lords enjoyed a wide array of past times, including hunting, falconry and chess.

Military

Lords were also the warriors of medieval society and were trained extensively in marital arts, like sword fighting, and horse-riding from an early age. Lords were expected to provide the king with military service in exchange for their land. A lord fulfilled this responsibility through raising a private army consisting of knights that were often recruited from the local manor. Military service for a knight was commonly set at around 40 days per year.

Peasants

A lord often farmed out a proportion of the land on his manor to local peasants. Similar to knights, the peasants provided a service in exchange for this land. This most often consisted of rent payments and cultivating a section of land for the lord's benefit, providing him with food for his family. The lord also held civil jurisdiction over his tenants in the manor court where fees, fines and disputes were discussed and settled.