The manor system was a common way of life in medieval Europe, consisting of a knight in charge of a manor and 15 or more peasant families working to support the manor. The knight was the lord of the manor, and peasants paid their way through labor.
The knight provided protection from warring manors for his peasants, but he also used force to rule over them and demand submission. This system is responsible for many of the castles that survive in Europe. While most manors died out with the French Revolution, in parts of Germany they continued until World War II.