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Medieval Pilgrimages

What people were in the same level as the serf in medieval times?

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September 07, 2010 5:58PM

Serfs were on about the same social level as villeins and cottars.

Serfs were above slaves, if any existed in the place where the serfs lived. Serfs were not bought or sold, but they were not free to leave the land on which they lived. They were mostly agricultural workers and unusually had plots of land assigned to them to farm for their own benefit.

Villeins were like serfs, but did not have plots of land assigned to them.

Cottars were apparently like serfs except that they were not bound to the land and had the option of moving away, which would have been a rather risky thing to do since it would leave them without home or income, unless they had some other arrangement. The nature of the cottar is not clearly understood, however.

Above the serf, but not necessarily much above, were freemen, who were not bound to the land.

Most of these people worked in agriculture, but they had other types of work to do. The simpler non agricultural chores of life were performed largely by serfs. These things included cleaning, helping cooks, lugging bricks for masons, digging ditches, washing and repairing clothes, and so on. They might have included such work as weaving, baking, cooking, depending on circumstances. Clearly there were hierarchies within job types.

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