This branch of the Austrian Hesch family is descended from Johann Hesch and his wife Marya (Schlinz) Hesch, who came to America from Oberschlagles, Bohemia with three sons: Paul, Mathias, and Anton. +++Johann & Marya settled in Buffalo County, Wisconsin but moved to Pierz, Mn in about 1885. .+++Mathias settled in Waumandee, Wisconsin and moved to Pierz in 1911. +++Anton never married but farmed with his dad in Agram Township, where he died in 1911.+++And Paul, my great grandfather, settled five miles away, in Buckman, Minnesota. He died there in 1900.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How the Manorial System Worked

Ever since we discovered our ancestors were in fact serfs, I've wondered about how the feudal system actually worked, day to day. Where did you get wood, or water?  Could you fish or hunt for your own table?  What if someone got sick, or a tool broke, or a draft animal died?  The idea of getting deeper in debt no matter what you do smacks of modern credit card and banking fees, but being "owned" by another family is a freaky thought.  Today, our western mindset says "leave if you don't like where you work"....but for Martin Hesch (Paul's grandpa) we realize now that that wasn't possible.
Larry and I have discussed it often, speculating about the systems they had.  While we haven't found sources for day-to-day life, Larry found this explanation on HistoryWorld regarding the relationship between landowner and serfs:
(Excerpted, since not EVERYONE is as obsessed as we are...)

The manorial court
The court is the judicial basis of the manorial system. In the decentralized and unruly regions of medieval Europe, some measure of control is achieved by giving lords legal powers over the peasants on their manors.

A large estate will consist of many manors, acquired not only by feudal grant but also by marriage, purchase and even outright seizure. The lord or his representatives move from one manor to another, holding court and consuming the produce gathered since their last visit. The court dispenses justice for crimes committed on the manor, hears civil disputes between tenants, and collects rents, fines and fees.

Fees are claimed by the lord of the manor on a wide range of events in the life of the community. They may be required for the issue of a legal document, for the buying and selling of property and even - most notoriously - for permission to marry.

Strip-farming and enclosure: 9th - 20th century AD

The fields of a medieval manor are open spaces divided...into long narrow strips. Only the fields being grazed by cattle are fenced. The others are open and are identifiable as separate the crops which they bear. The unusual detail is that the single crop in each field is separately farmed - in individual strips - by peasant families of the local village.

Strip-farming is central to the life of a medieval rural community. It involves an intrinsic element of fairness, for each peasant's strips are widely spread over the entire manor; every family will have the benefit of good land in some areas, while accepting a poor yield elsewhere.

The strips also enforce an element of practical village democracy. The system only works if everyone sows the same crop on their strip of each open field. What to sow and when to harvest it are communal decisions. The field cannot be fenced, or the cattle let into it, until each peasant has reaped his own harvest.

There's a lot more info there if you're interested ☺ You're welcome!

1 comment:

  1. I too have wondered about the feudal system. What was a day like for women and men? Were tasks divided up according to ability? Were there occasional meetings? And, if so, who was in charge? I love this stuff!!!! Were women accorded gathering activities? So many questions!!!

    Deborah in Kodiak
    (who has a lot of time to think about inane questions about the past)