chapter 5- Medieval Times Revenue System

Feudal tenure was existent in the Medieval India. In this feudal system, the king grants titles and lands to lords and promise to pay the king tribute in the form of taxes and men to serve in the king’s army during times of war. Lords then in turn allow peasants the use of the lands given to them by the king. As long as the peasants pay the lord taxes and are willing to be conscripted into the king’s army they held the land. Before common law, tenants had few of the rights that owners have today. A tenant could not do as he wished with the land he occupied. He could not sell it without the lord’s permission, could not pass it on in his will and no rights of succession existed for his family after his death. A tenant’s only protection against dispossession was a lord’s sense of moral and social obligation towards his tenants. Even though only the king could claim complete ownership of land, he allowed lords to manage the lands he gave them as they saw fit. Lords could decide to either lease out their lands or directly manage them. By the 13th century, lords became more willing to lease out lands to peasants because having a tenant was more profitable than growing crops to sell. Prior to the late 12th century, a tenant’s interests were somewhat protected by the lord’s court of manorial custom. However, a tenant couldn’t rely on the lord’s own court: to rule against the lord in a law suit. During the reign of Henry II, the royal courts of England began to intervene in disputes between lords and their tenants by issuing writs. The first of these writs was the “writ of right”, which forced a lord to accept a tenant who had hereditary rights to the land the lord sought to reclaim. This marked the beginning of a common law system that provided peasants with a legal recourse against lords who sought to abuse their powers.



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