or safety and for defense, people in the Middle Ages formed small communities around a central lord or master. Most people lived on a manor, which consisted of the castle, the church, the village, and the surrounding farm land. These manors were isolated, with occasional visits from peddlers, pilgrims on their way to the Crusades, or soldiers from other fiefdoms. In this "feudal" system, the king awarded land grants or "fiefs" to his most important nobles, his barons, and his bishops, in return for their contribution of soldiers for the king's armies. At the lowest level of society were the peasants, also called "serfs." In exchange for living and working on his land, known as the, the lord offered his peasants protection. Feudalism: In most of medieval Europe, society was dependent on the "feudal" system, which was based on allocation of land in return for service. The king would give out grants of land to his most important noblemen (barons and bishops), and each noble would have to promise to loyally follow him and supply him with soldiers in time of war. They did this at a special - kneeling before the king, he swore an oath with the words "Sire, I become your man." The nobles then divided their land among lower lords, or knights who also had to become their vassals(servants). In the lowest spot in society sat the peasants who worked on the land itself. They had almost no rights, tiny pieces of property - and no vassals. Manor: Country people often lived on a manor. On a manor there was a village, church, lord's house or castle, and the farmland upon which the people worked. The peasants had requirements they had to fulfill in order to live there. This involved farming the lord's land and paying rents with food. Officials were hired by the lord of the manor in and were responsible for enforcing those requirements. Because many of them were knights, they were often in constant battle between each other. The lord of the manor acted as judge in the manor court and authority to fine those who broke the law. As the manors were usually isolated, the villagers had to produce all they needed themselves. Only salt for curing meats and iron for tools came from outside. An interesting characteristic of the people is that very few ever traveled far from their own villages. And the only visitors were soldiers, peddlers, or pilgrims.