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Aristocratic Households * The Household proper * Tenants * Officers and counselors * Extraordinary retainers * Liveried retainers * Servants and well wishers

The Medieval Aristocratic Household: Tenants

Tenants are those holding land from a lord, but not necessarily by virtue of a knight’s fee (or fraction thereof). Most of those without knight’s fee holdings were peasants. By the fifteenth century at least, these tenants were a regular source of military forces. In 1381, a call to arms by John of Gaunt brought nine gentry with nearly 100 men-at-arms and over 400 archers, of whom roughly a tenth came from Gaunt’s own honour of Knaresborough. Gaunt’s troops were to be paid by the York receivers, presumably indicating that while the tenants were expected to turn out for military service, those tenants could also expect to be paid for such service, probably at “the customary rates.”