The question is self-explanatory: What is the term for a person who surveys the land and relays messages from a noble to his governed village?

The officer would:

  • Survey the village or tenant, to receive reports about the harvest yield for deciding the tribute to the noble.
  • Relay messages from the noble to other nobles or the village.
  • Do whatever errands (usually outside the noble's manor) that the noble wanted(usually in the noble's jurisdiction).

Are the terms 'Bailiff' (in English) and Amtman (in the Holy Roman Empire) correct? Or it was 'Reeve' (in English) and whatever the continental equivalent of the title was? Or were there no such positions in Medieval Europe?

What I have read was that the Bailiff was more about the Manorial Court while the Reeve was more about land management...

1 Answer 1


You have somewhat answered your own question. The Reeve and Bailiff were essentially the same job in Medieval England.

The Reeve was a person that oversaw the land and crops and was in charge of the peasants. A reeve was basically an estate manager. A reeve is actually described in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, describing the reeve as a highly efficient servant, impossible for any man to outwit or deceive, never in debt and always knowing how much a manor should produce, an indispensable individual in medieval times.

In medieval England, there were 2 types of bailiff. A bailiff of the hundred court was appointed by the sheriff. Duties included process server, executors of writs, assembling juries and collecting fines for the court. This type of bailiff has evolved into the court official that we are familiar with today. The other type of bailiff is a bailiff of the manor. They would oversee the lands and buildings of the manor, collecting fines and rents and acting as accountants.

The reeve and the bailiff of the manor are essentially the same job in medieval England. As you described in your question, the reeve/bailiff was referred to as the Amtmann in the Holy Roman Empire. The reeve/bailiff was referred to as a Vogt in Switzerland.

I hope this helps.


  • Thank you for the answer... I kinda confused between the bailiff of sheriff and bailiff or manor... Aug 12, 2015 at 18:09

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