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concerns for the people of that era. They would form small communities usually surrounding a central lord. Most would live on a manor which consisted of a castle, church, villages and surrounding farm land. These manors existed for the most part in isolation with the rare visits of tradesmen, peddlers, crusading pilgrims and even soldiers of other fiefdoms. The ways of this “feudal” system began with the king who would award land grants or fiefs to his most influential and important nobles, barons, and bishops. These would come with the stipulations of loyalty to the crown, and contributions of knights and soldiers in times of war. The lowest level of this pecking order resided with the peasants or “villeins.” They would work and live on the lords land (also known as demesne) in exchange for safety and protectoion. The Magna Carta These nobles often devided their lands among lesser nobility. These lesser nobles would become vassals (or servants). Many of these became so powerful that the kings of the times had trouble controling them. By the year 1100 AD, some of these barons had built themselves castles as created courts to inhabit them. These would often rival that of the kings and could become serious threats should they not get their way with the crown. The year 1215 AD, English barons formed and alliance that eventually forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. This document though it gave no rights to ordinary peasants did limit the king's authority in matters of taxation and required trials before punishment. It became the first time that a monarch came under control of the law. Peasant Life These peasants worked the land and produced goods and perishables that the lord and his manor needed. This exchange did not come without its share of woes for the peasants. Their taxes were borderline obscene for the times and were required to give up most of what they crafted and or harvested. These people did not even have the right to control their own fates (belong to themselves), according to medieval law. The lords would work closely with the church to assume the roles of judges when carrying out the laws of the manor. The Role of Women It's no big surprise whether noble or peasant, women had a difficult time and position within society. They were confined to primarily household duties such as cooking, baking brad, weaving, spinning, and even sewing. However some also hunted for food as well as fought in battles, learning the use of weapons in order to provide a last line of defense for their homes and castles. And some even held other occupations such as blacksmiths, merchants, and apothecaries. While others were midwives, or worked in the fields, or were engaged in finer endevours such as writing, music, dancing, and painting. Some were known as witches, capable of sorcery as well as healing. While others became nuns and devoted their lives to the church and spiritual matters. Some of the more famous women of this time included the writer Christine de Pisan; the abbess and musician Hildegard of Aquitaine. Arguably the most famous of women during this period was but the daughter of a peasant, Joan of Arc, or St. Joan. She claimed to hear voices telling her to protect France from the English invasion. She would dress in armor and lead her troops in victory in the early 15th century. “The Maid of Orleans” as she was called, was however later burned as a witch.