Landbound Commoner Stations

For a description of Household Officer see both the free townsman and free rural commoner entries. The only difference between those entries and this one is the fact that landbound families are only found in the lower-ranking household positions such as butler, Pantler, cook, huntsman, groomsman, body servant, personal messenger, usher or Doorward, and are not tolerated as hangers-on after the fashion of a courtier.

The “Steward/Bailiff” entry indicates that the parent is an officer of his lord, but specifically involved in supervising and expediting the agricultural work of the estate on which he lives, or the administrative block of estates of which it is a part. He will be very popular with many of the locals as a result, generally, due to the usually oppressive nature of his work enforcing the requirements of week-work, making boon-work demands during the harvest when the tenants have crops of their own to get it, and so on.

Village Officers” are those elected by the residents of a village to be in charge of the ordering and management of the resources and labor of the village in cultivating the land and livestock to the best advantage and greatest profit. Of these, the reeve is chief, but these also include the hayward who makes sure the drainage and boundary ditches in the village remain clear, and that all hedging and hurdles between lands and for keeping livestock on private property and/or out of the common fields remain in good repair, and the aletasters who make sure that all of the beer brewed by the local alewives for serving the villagers is of proper strength and purity, as required by the law – the Assize of Beer and Bread. These offices can only be held by landbound tenants, and are generally rotated through the residents so the burden of serving in these offices doesn’t become too onerous. Indeed, providing proof (sufficient corroborating testimony) that one has never had a parent required to serve in any such office is deemed legally sufficient to prove free status.

The ploughman is a husbandman who works for an entire village and/or on the local lord’s demesne. Those he works for all contribute to the teams that pull the ploughs, and the ploughman directs and manages the work of the ploughing while also helping to care for the beasts through the ploughing seasons.

The herdsman or herder makes his living working for an entire village and/or the local lord’s demesne by caring for their beasts as well as his own, or he may have none of his own. He may be a cow-or oxherd, swineherd or shepherd (player’s discretion). The oxherder takes the beasts in his charge from the entire village or lord’s demesne at the end of the fall ploughing and sees to their care through the winter.

The dairyman or deye (female) not only collects the milk from the village milchcows in the morning but culls the cream, makes the cheeses and ages them, churns the milk for butter and then presses it into the forms to make it usable, and commonly also keeps the village chickens, ducks, geese and other fowl. He commonly makes his home and headquarters at the home farm of the local lord or religious house that rules the village or dominates it, hard by the village grange and tithing barn(s) even in the absence of such a dominant presence in the village.

The simple farmer is just that. Farming is all he is concerned with, that and taking care of his agricultural responsibilities to his lord. The extent of his lands are determined by his landbound class (villein, bordar, cottar, serf).

For a description of Craftsman see both the free townsman and free rural commoner entries. The only difference between those entries and this is the fact that, at the landbound social level, the family is also engaged in a craft or manufacturing trade of some sort, most commonly one of the domestic household crafts (chandlery, spinning, weaving, dying, etc.) , in order to supplement their income from farming which is likely insufficient on its own to provide for the needs of a whole family.

The Household Servant entry is fairly self explanatory. The GM must determine the Station of the household to which the character’s servant parent(s) is attached. They are generally discharged in the evening after the clean-up following supper has been completed each day, returning at daybreak. only those working upstairs as personal servants directly for the master of the house or estate, or their officers, sleep overnight in the house.

Common laborer families are engaged in various forms of labor for rather small daily wages, porting parcels for shoppers at market, carrying building materials, clearing and digging ditches, raking refuse, hauling water, as the results of table 2-8.d indicate, whatever can be found to keep bread on the table, particularly seasonal harvest work and maintenance in the rural districts.

Those of these stations generally also have at least a “toft and croft” to tend and till in addition to their housework or labors.