This is a text only version of our interactive medieval feudal system ks3 page.
The Liverpool medieval feudal system was based around a hierarchy that determined who was in charge of who across the entire land.
At the top of the medieval feudal system was the King. He gave lands over to his Barons (rich noblemen), the Barons in turn gave land to the knights (the tough guys), in return for protection and military service. Finally the knights gave land to the peasant farmers in exchange for food.
Bottom of the heap in the feudal system were the peasants were also known as serfs or villeins. Because of the villeins low status the term ended up being used today to mean villain (a bad person). The villeins life was a bad one, working six days a week and probably dying by the time they were 30.
Most peasants were little more than slaves. They could only keep a small portion of what they grew, they also had to ask the local Baron for permission to leave the manor or to even marry someone!
The more skilled peasants were known as ‘freemen’ and could work as craftsmen, carpenters, bakers, blacksmiths and so on. They were also known as ‘journeymen’ and could travel from town to town selling their wares.
Like most of the country, scouse villiens were mostly farmers and craftsmen, but a lot were fishermen.
Liverpool was a busy little trading area at this time and King Edward II visited Liverpool Castle in 1323. It was becoming an important port for war ships fighting the Irish and the Scottish. Liverpool was also a major port for importing French Wine.
In 1229 medieval feudal Liverpool had its first ‘guild’. This was a group of traders that acted as a ‘quality control’ on other craftsmen in the area. The guild would make sure that people were making things to an agreed quality. Craftsmen paid to be part of the guild, but it also provided help for them and sick pay to its members.
At about 12 years of age you could be being trained as an apprentice by a guild member. You would spend several years learning a particular trade. When you completed your training you became an independent journeyman.
When a journeyman was good enough to create items that the guild approved of then he would be allowed to become a guild-maker himself and sell things at the local market.
Far from a backwater hovel, medieval Liverpool was a thriving port full of exciting food and drink from around the world. Providing you were clever enough not to end up a plague-ridden peasant you would have probably really enjoyed life!
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