In medieval societies, the king was the highest ruler in his land, having to hold himself accountable only to God, represented by those in high offices in the Catholic church. The king was the ruler of his territory and was responsible for the well-being of his subjects.
The king made the rules, the laws and decided the punishment for breaking his laws, which was often death. A person sentenced to a more lenient punishment might be placed in the dungeons, which often led to death because of poor living conditions, or torture, which often led to serious infections or death.
Some kings were very kind to their subjects, giving gifts to their subjects and sharing accumulated wealth among them. Other kings were not as kind to their subjects, charging large amounts of taxes, subjecting citizens to cruelty and unfair laws and taking food stores for his personal gain.
Kings often allowed lower-class citizens to live on his property but charged a tax that could be paid in crops or in money. Even though the king was the ruler of the land, he granted different pieces of land to his lords who served as the king's proxy and saw to it that his laws were enforced.