A Gest of Robyn Hode: difference between husbandman and yeoman?

Oct 2012
249
In the Gest of Robyn Hode, a distinction is made between a husbandman and a yeoman. I had always equated the two; what's the difference?

Fytte One

But look you do no husbandman harm
That tills with his plough.

No more shall you no good yeoman
That walks by the wood’s green canopy;
 
Feb 2017
265
Devon, UK
In the Gest of Robyn Hode, a distinction is made between a husbandman and a yeoman. I had always equated the two; what's the difference?
Essentially not a lot, in terms of job description, although 'husbandman' can imply a tenant farmer as well as just a farmer. 'Yeoman' is an even more complex term that changed over time. By the mid fifteenth century (the rough date of the 'Gest') it could mean a minor freeholder who was essentially rural middle class although it was also freighted with earlier associations of being 'freeborn' and had certain martial implications besides.
 
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Jan 2016
10
Atlanta, GA
In Dr. Ian Mortimer’s book “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”, husbandmen and yeomen are only distinguished by their income and land holdings. They were both categories of free tenants, as opposed to serfs, who were unfree.


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Jun 2016
1,863
England, 200 yards from Wales
I agree with those above, there's no great difference though yeoman (especially by the 15th century) probably suggests somehwat higher status.
I believe Yeoman could include upper servants in a noble household, in the country as my Lady says above both were free, maybe it would be true to say that a yeoman might employ a husbandman but not so likely the other way around?

Actually the Geste also distinguishes the yeoman from those above, in a line that is a problem for those who like to gentrify the outlaw. When the knight is asked to pay for his dinner in the forest, Robin remarks that it is unheard of 'that a yeoman should pay for a knight'. (I think that's right, it's from memory, I haven't time now to look it up).
 
Jan 2012
490
South Midlands in Merlin's Isle of Gramarye
By the seventeenth century a yeoman was one below a gentleman in that a yeoman worked his own property whilst a gentleman employed a tenant to do it for him. An ancestor of mine described as a yeoman in law documents both worked his own land but also had tenants working other properties he owned. From wills I have transcribed, in that same period a husbandman would be more the owner of livestock who would pasture the same on his own land or rent more land from others. I believe the wealth and status difference was subtle but the husbandman would have movable chattels whilst the yeoman would be defined by his land holding. It is valid to say that a yeoman could hire a husbandman but not the other way around. If a husbandman became rich he was defined as a grazier.

The aristocratic Spencer family started out as graziers who ended up buying entire manors on which to graze their ever-increasing flocks. They were tediously very active in Northamptonshire from the 16th century onwards.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,952
Stockport Cheshire UK
The term husbandry is still used to describe the use of animals in farming, so that may have a connection. Maybe husbandman was a way of describing a plowman or someone who worked with animals.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,678
Sydney
in the middle age owning a team of plow animals was a big deal , this was often described as a plowman
husbandman would indicate the keeping of cattle
a yeoman was theoretically liable to being called to his lord armed service if the ultimate military levie was raised
it became purely honorific by the 14th century , the levies were near useless in battle
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,694
Westmorland
in the middle age owning a team of plow animals was a big deal , this was often described as a plowman
I'm pretty sure a ploughman was just the bloke who did the ploughing, rather than the man who owned the plough animals.