THE MANOR IN ENGLAND The typical English Manor, if there be a recognized or definite type, is known to us through the records of the 13th century. There is much valuable material in the somewhat cryptic descrip tions in the Domesday survey ; there are admirable pictures of the custom and working of a manor in the 12th century extents, sur veys, custumals and cartularies, but in the 13th century we find in addition to these, systematic information as to the economic progress of the manor, in the Ministers' accounts, and as to the judicial proceedings of the manorial courts, in the court rolls. By the 14th century we are confronted with a picture of change and decay, emancipation and development.
a virgate or half-virgate in acre strips, and a share in the meadows and waste. A virgate was normally about 3o acres—the fourth part of a hide; but it might vary from 10-15 acres up to 6o or 8o, while the acre itself varies in different districts. The villein was in certain respects unfree; in the eye of the law he had no rights against his lord, who "was protected from all suits by the exceptio villenagii" ; he might not leave the manor without permission, and he could be reclaimed if he did, by the writ "de nativo habendo" ; he could not, in theory, own any property, and he was subject to certain "base" incidents, such as the payment of merchet, and the need to ask permission to put his son to school or to allow him to seek ordination. But in practice the villein bought and sold like other men, after payment of a small fee ; he leased, ex changed or sold his land, through the very efficient machinery of the manorial court ; he made wills, and at times appears even to have disposed of his villein lands by will—proved in the lord's court. He could, no doubt, be ejected by the lord, but such ejec tion was very rare, and seemed to require a complete cessation of services, by physical or mental incapacity, before it could be accomplished "according to the custom of the manor." The vil lein was never exposed to the arbitrary will of the lord, but was always protected by the court, which interpreted the "custom" by the spoken witness of the villata (or the curia, the homagium, the jurati) or the written testimony of court roll or custumal. The inevitable confusion which arose between unfree status, and unfree tenure usually reacted to the advantage of the villein by blood, but on some estates (notably monastic lands) there was a deter mined attempt to impose the whole burden of unfree status upon free men holding villein tenements. Individual villeins, with their sequela, or villein brood, were sometimes bought and sold, but they could not be separated from their tenements, and all that is implied by sale is transfer from one lord to another as regards services and jurisdiction. The hardship or prosperity of a villein's lot depended mainly upon his economic position, which would seem to have steadily improved in the i4th century. His rents in money, in kind, and in services were for the most part fixed. The rents of assize (probably a commutation of earlier rents in kind rather than of services) varied considerably on different manors, but as they remained fixed for centuries, the advantage of any fall in the value of money remained with the villein. The dues in kind were gradually almost all commuted, or dropped.