Discuss the main features of agrarian relations during the early medieval period.
The main features of agrarian relations during the early medieval period were:
Burden on the Peasants: Contemporary land grant system entitled the owner of the land to collect all kinds of taxes. The peasantry thus during the early medieval times was suffering from an ever increasing burden of tax and rent. For example, the Vatata grants list fourteen types of dues. The owners were also empowered with the rights to erect the peasantry at will and to replace them with new peasant. Besides from seventh century on-wards grants used to give away water resources, trees, bushes and pastures to the owner/donee of the land. This trend worsened the condition of the peasantry. There are also reforms of forced labor.
Feudal Land Tenure: Land grant system developed into hierarchical right over land and sub-infeudation. There used to be four grades of land rights in a single piece of land. These were — The Mahipati (King), Kshetraamin (Landowner), Karshaka (cultivator) and the sub tenant. This system led to monopoly of landlords who lived off the surplus produced by the real cultivators. Land and villages were denoted to the temples in South India which was known as devadand. There religious organizations became landed owners and gave plots of land to petty officials artisans, musicians, servants etc. Similarly, temple land was also leased out to tenants for cultivation. This further complexed the entire system. These trends created a class of peasantry, obliged with heavy taxes and who were subsistent to a class of dominant landlords.
Growth of Closed Economy: Local needs used to be met locally Dharmshastras restricted the movements of Brahmans, Sea voyages were prohibited fostering story local identities. There was a growing sense of location and self-sufficiency in the villages. Thus, transfer of settlement to various categories of land lords had created a congenial atmosphere for the growth of self-sustaining, closed units of production as well as consumption.