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Old January 22nd, 2011, 08:17 AM   #1
Joined: Jan 2011
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Tenant farming in Britain

I'm interested to know whether a similar tenant farming system existed in Britain as in Scandinavia. I'll just describe the Scandinavian system briefly:

1) The tenant farmer leases the land from the landlord who is often also a master of a big manor.

The land that is leased belongs to the manor, but the Landlord doesn't usually lease all his lands, he might very well keep the best slots of land for himself to cultivate.

(Also, in some cases, he might lease a slot of land that isn't yet suitable for farming, a swamp for example, which the tenant farmer has to work in into a field.)

2) A contract is made between the tenant farmer and the landlord.

The tenant farmer typically won't pay the rent with money (he's too poor!), but rather by fullfilling all these three obligations:

-he has to give a part of the yearly crop to the landlord, for example half of the harvested and treshed wheat

-he also regularily delivers a fixed amount of other goods to the landlord, for example butter or wool or woolstrings

-he regularily works for the manor without pay, a typical contract might oblige him to work one or two days a week at the manor, with or without his horse depending on the contract

The last form rental payment, rental payment by labour, was called TAKSVÄRKKI in Sweden. It means 'the day's work'. (Not to be confused with a 'daytale-man', a man who only gets hired as a farmhand or such one day at the time.)

So, another question I have is:

If a similar form a tenant farming existed in the UK, a system in which rent was partly payd by labouring in the landlord's fields, is there an English equilent for this word TAKSVÄRKKI, this weekly 'day's work' that the tenant farmer had to perform on his landord's fields?

Hope this wasn't too boring a subject...

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Old January 22nd, 2011, 10:29 AM   #2

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The system in medieval England was very similar. The land was rented out by the lord of the manor to tenant farmers, who paid rent in the form of labour on the lord's land, giving portions of their produce etc (in the later medieval period, this was generally replaced by cash rents, which were more convenient for both the lord and the peasant.)

In england, some peasants were free, and some were villeins (bound to the land they worked, not allowed to leave without the lord's permission). Villeins owed more labor than free men or women. As regards his position in the village community, the free or unfree status of a peasant was of less importance than how much land he held: "A rich villein was a bigger man in the village than a poor free man" as Frances and Joseph Gies write in 'Life in a Medieval Village." Although technically the land a peasant worked belonged to the lord of the manor, by custom it passed through the peasant's family, he and his wife were normally considered joint tenants, and after they died (or retired) the farm normally passed to their oldest son (or daughter if there was no son).
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Old January 22nd, 2011, 01:37 PM   #3

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Originally Posted by WilliamBlake View Post
is there an English equilent for this word TAKSVÄRKKI, this weekly 'day's work' that the tenant farmer had to perform on his landord's fields?
The term normally used for it now is "corvée".
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 08:47 AM   #4
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Thanks so much to both of you!
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