Postfest V, Part II: Courts Leet and Baron
Date: Tue, August 09, 2005
Topic: Peoples & Culture

The manor is the basic economic unit of feudal society and is composed of a variety of types of land. Much of the land on a manor is held in common and is used by all of the manor's residents. It is necessary to regulate this use and ensure the maintenance of these common holdings. This is the function of Courts Leet and Baron. The holding of the Courts is, however, attended by various other activities that transform a necessity into a holiday.

Courts Leet and Baron
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Date: 18 Readying, 9 Reaping, 10 Ready’reat (Varies)
Location: Flanaess-wide
Type: Civic

The manor is the basic economic division outside a town or larger urban center. A manor consists of some number of individual cottages, thorps, hamlets and villages, as well as any towers or keeps (castles are rarely found as part of most manors) and the main manor house of the local noble, usually a lord, as well as any subsidiary manor houses, usually held by senior knights. Within this manor, which can be of varying size, there will be lands owned by or assigned to various inhabitants. There will also be significant common lands, shared by all. Common pasturage is the most frequently seen, but common woods (as distinct from larger forests which are not held in common but are the preserve of the nobility), common ponds or creeks, sometimes extensive berry patches or common orchard woods are also found. Common mills and common presses are more rarely encountered, as most nobles will own these and charge a fee for use.

Courts Leet and Baron oversee the use of common lands. Meeting three times a year to regulate usage and see to maintenance, Courts Leet and Baron, assign individual rights to the use of the commons, adjudicate disputes and assign maintenance duties. Courts Leet and Baron also supervise the “frankpledge.” Every peasant on a manor must belong to a ten to twelve person “tithing.” Every person within a tithing is held responsible for the acts and actions of the other persons within that tithing. If one is punished for any non-felony, all are punished. Felonies are punished individually, although other members of the guilty party’s tithing will likely be fined. This duty to self-police within a tithing is called the frankpledge.

Court Leet is the court responsible for administering the commons. Court Baron administers the frankpledge. Merged for convenience, they are called Courts Leet and Baron. In conjunction with the holding of Courts Leet and Baron, there is a usually held a market day where sales and purchases are free of the usual duties. Traveling peddlers add to the purely local goods commonly available and are drawn to Courts Leet and Baron because they will not suffer the standard duties and taxes normally imposed on sales and merchanting. An administrative necessity, thus, takes on the character of an impromptu holiday. While work is still performed, at least as much time is spent attending the Courts, the market or just socializing.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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