Question about feudal laws

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ulthar
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Question about feudal laws

#1 Post by ulthar » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:06 pm

Hi all,

just two quick questions on feudal law.

1. In our campaing there is a yeoman who is a crony of an enemy of the players. One of the PCs (knight) took over the fief the yeoman lifes in. How does the Knight get rid of the yeoman. Can he just throw him out?
2. Who far does a lords power over unfree tenants reach? Specifically are there legal reasons to a.) Throw out a unfree tenant b.) Has a lord the right to have a unfree tenant executed?

Unfortunately, the law PDF does not answer those questions.

Thanks in advance for any answers.

Ulthar

MDMann
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Re: Question about feudal laws

#2 Post by MDMann » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:42 pm

Assuming it's one of the feudal kingdoms and not Rethem.

1. He has to wait until the tenancy agreement is up to evict the yeoman unless the yeoman breaks that tenancy agreement. They usually last seven years and a generally renewed, often for generations. But, they don't have to be. For gameplay, I'd probably leave a year or two left to run on the agreement.

2. Pretty far. But, he's obliged to look after his unfree tenants. If they aren't meeting their labour obligations he can remove lands from them, but if there are extenuating circumstance or the serf can provide a substitute for their labour, he probably won't.

No he can't sentence them to death without confirmation by the sheriff or his representative. Mutilation is fine but will be looked down upon by his peers.
Per Sir Veer.

ulthar
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Re: Question about feudal laws

#3 Post by ulthar » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:43 pm

Thanks! :)

As for the yeoman... he killed the boy of one of the unfree tennants of the fief in cold blood. Unfortunately this happened while hunting said boy for fleeing the village. I guess this isn't a legal problem, since this happened while the former fief owner was in charge?

MDMann
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Re: Question about feudal laws

#4 Post by MDMann » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:05 pm

Hmmm. Not quite the same. He's executing his duties at the time and could (probably) argue he killed the fleeing felon whilst resisting arrest. Unless there are witnesses otherwise or pretty strong evidence to the contrary (such as boasting about it whilst in cups). I'd probably force him to work the serfs labour obligations personally for a year and give him a public dressing down. I'd also fine him pretty steeply, with half going to the serf family. It's valuable labour he failed to return after all. He can still be dismissed after his term ends. No reason required. It gives him some opportunity to redeem himself if he can. Effort counts.

The serfs are also guilty. Not of not meeting their obligations, as a death is a pretty accepted reason for failure, with relief from obligations (or reduction base on the labour lost) for a year being reasonable. They're guilty of allowing their son to flee in the first place. If they're not punished pretty heavily, there'll be massive problems in the fiel before long. The Lord cannot let this slide. Traditionally, they'd face a very stiff fine and be responsible for the missing obligations. It's reasonable to charge the clan head instead of the family head for this if they're not the same person. The reeve, beadle and chamberlain will know all this and duty compels them to inform the Lord of the consequences of his decisions.
Per Sir Veer.

rdelorme10
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Re: Question about feudal laws

#5 Post by rdelorme10 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:49 am

They could be stuck with the Yeoman: many of these positions were hereditary and not under a set term. Of course if the yeoman is caught being disloyal than the his liege can dismiss him or maybe even charge him with treason. The Yeoman however can appeal for a jury trial with jury being made of the regions knights and yeoman. So make sure your evidence is solid before dismissing or charging him with a crime. One option is to recommend him for "Royal" service, a letter to the King offering the yeoman service to the King and offering to pay his wages. If the King accepts the yeoman can not realistically refuse a "Royal Appointment" such an honor. Today we call this promoting your troubles away...

Eder
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Re: Question about feudal laws

#6 Post by Eder » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:23 pm

I'll echo what others have said, with some differences.
ulthar wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:06 pm
1. In our campaing there is a yeoman who is a crony of an enemy of the players. One of the PCs (knight) took over the fief the yeoman lifes in. How does the Knight get rid of the yeoman. Can he just throw him out?
In general, no. Think of the yeoman as a "mini-knight" who holds land in exchange for military service (and possibly a few fruits of that land). There's a contract regulating the exchange, with a duration that may be a for a number of years (in this case, seven would be typical) but is more often, like for knights, for life and customarily renewed to the yeoman's heirs. If the yeoman breaches the contract, of course, the lord is free to evict him and even exact punishment; though justice will be administered by the local Sheriff or his local underling, the Bailiff of the Hundred, as the yeoman is a free man. In practice, a lord is free to make life hell for a yeoman: send him out on a suicidal mission and voila, either you are rid of the yeoman or you can accuse him of disloyalty and evict/punish him.
ulthar wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:06 pm
2. Who far does a lords power over unfree tenants reach? Specifically are there legal reasons to a.) Throw out a unfree tenant b.) Has a lord the right to have a unfree tenant executed?
Unfree tenants are not slaves; their tenancy is regulated by a feudal contract that grants them some specific rights (e.g. the right to farm a certain plot of land, and crucially, the right to be protected by their lord) and some specific obligations (e.g. that of not leaving the fief without the lord's permission, or that of working a certain number of days farming the lord's demesne). Again, the lord who wants to make life difficult for the unfree tenant just has to claim a breach of contract. And here's the cactch, and the crucial difference between serfs and freemen: it's the lord who administers justice for the unfree tenants, while free tenants can appeal to the Sheriff/Bailiff of the Hundred. So a lord could simply accuse an unfree tenant of, say, having committed some blasphemous crime, judge him guilty and hang him there and then.

Ultimately, however, there's theory and practice. A lord who administers poor justice, e.g. by executing a well-liked cottar on fabricated grounds, is likely to face hostility by his other tenants; who will be a little less productive, far less likely to report crimes... and perhaps a little more likely to cause the lord to have some "accident". On the other hand, being unfairly harsh to an unpopular figure is much less of an issue (it's still something of an issue, because the more you deviate from custom, the less reliable and "solid" you are perceived by everyone, even by someone who approves of your deviation). One mechanic I would have liked in EH3 Manor and/or HarnManor would have been some sort of "loyalty" score of the fief's inhabitants to their lord.

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