For the farmers, much changed when the Western Roman empire fell. While they were part of society in the Roman empire, they were now forgotten or oppressed. In the Roman empire they provided the food supply of all romans. In the era of the knights and monks they lived mainly autarkic. This means that they lived off the food they grew and that they did not trade with it. There was no more trading because the Roman coin was no longer worth anything. Production also declined. They could have used roman techniques to work the land in the time of the Romans. But now that there were no more Romans, tilling the land was much more difficult and there was little food.
In the fourth century, agricultural production fell to a low point. Also, many farmers were attacked by foreign tribes. This marked a major change in history. Many farmers were forced to leave their land and seek help and protection from large landlords. These lords had been given their land on loan by the king. Actually, they were loan lords. Such a loanee lived mostly in the center of his country. His house was the main farm. Around the main farm there were all kinds of workshops and warehouses. There was usually a mill, a forge, a brewery and a weave. The center was called the vroonhof. This included some pasture, some arable land and unexplored land, such as forest or moor. He kept this country himself. The rest of the land lent the loan master to the farmers who came to him for help. This country was called the hooves country.
In this period, both lovemaking and horigen worked on the country. The lovemaking were free farmers. They often had their own lands. But sometimes they rented the land they worked on. This lease was usually part of the harvest. They also paid their rent by providing services on the land. They also had to perform conscription. For this, they had to pay for their own weapons.
Horigen did not have to perform conscription. In the seventh and eighth centuries, there were more and more lovemakings that gave up their freedom and became horigen. They received protection from the loanee in return for their services and harvest. But the horigen had few rights. They were obliged to continue living and working on the land. Their children also had this duty. The loanee usually left his country and the horigen to his children.
The king did not lend all his land to loan lords. Some parts he kept to himself. These estates are called crown estates. The king traveled with his courtship along these domains. On these crown domains, the king had palts built. These are fortresses in which the king stayed with his court. Some of these palts from history still exist as big cities. These are Aachen and Nijmegen. These palats were built by Charlemagne.