Domain and Regency » Manorialism » Social class » Yeoman
Part of a series on Social class
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Serf · Yeoman · Gentry · Nobility
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A yeoman is a farmer on a manor who owes no labor service to a lord, pays no rents for his lands, and pays little in taxes. Instead, he provides feudal military service to the lord. Yeoman often range from mere subsistence to landholdings so great that they have tenants and could be ranked among gentlemen if only they bothered to live with the expenses of being a gentleman. Most yeomen farmers have servants or laborers with whom they work in their fields. Another distinction between yeoman and gentleman, aside from the cost of maintaining status, is that the yeoman works his lands, while the gentleman does not.
Yeoman are generally hailed as the best soldiers from among the common social classes. Unlike serfs who are raised by a levy, yeoman fight out of loyalty to their lord, to protect their homes and families, or earn pay as a soldier. Many fight for some combination of these three, and their practical and ideological reasons to take up arms make them far better than the feudal levy of serfs who only fight out of obligation and fear, or the mercenary who only fights for pay. Yeoman lack the melee training and skill of the gentry and nobility, but are often excellent scouts, irregulars, or archers.
While not properly yeomen, other independent types, such as woodland hermits, and manorial craftsmen have a status equal to yeomen, somewhere between that of the serf and gentleman. Much less common than the yeoman is the farmer, a free man who pays his tax to the lord not in labor or military service, but in coin. A farmer sells his produce to market, and so is in competition with his lord. Such is only possible where the market is very large and can accommodate a great deal of produce.

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