A class in feudalism made up of freemen and serfs. They lived in villages clustered around an open area called a village green. Their homes were simple cottages. The poorest of these people lived in a single room. They worked year round. In late winter and spring, they planted crops of beans, peas, barley, and oats. In early summer, they weeded fields and sheared sheep. In late summer, they harvested grain. They also slaughtered livestock and salted the meat for winter storage. Many of them tended small vegetable gardens. During times of leisure, their life centered on the church and the village green. They took a break from work and went to church on Sunday and Catholic feast days. Certain feast days were celebrated with singing and dancing on the green. The men took part in sports such as wrestling and archery. Besides working in the fields, the women raised children and prepared the family's food. They made dark, heavy bread, which peasants ate with vegetables, milk, nuts, and fruits. They also ate eggs and meat, washed down with ale. In 1066, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England died without an heir. A noble named Harold Godwinson claimed the English throne. In France, a relative of the Anglo-Saxon kings, said that he, not Harold, was the rightful king of England. He was crowned king of England and became known as _______ the Conqueror. At first, the Anglo-Saxons resisted his rule. To stop the Anglo-Saxon revolts, he seized the land of Anglo-Saxon nobles and divided it among his Norman knights. He wanted to learn as much as possible about his new kingdom. To decide taxes, he carried out the first census since Roman times. The Normans who ruled England kept many Anglo-Saxon laws and practices. However, they also brought many customs from mainland Europe. After his death, English kings further strengthened their power. From 1154 to 1189, King Henry II ruled England as well as most of Wales, and Ireland. In medieval Europe, these people became scapegoats, or people blamed for other people's problems. Hostility toward them is called anti-Semitism. In troubled times during the Middle Ages, anti-Semitism flared up. In towns and villages, Christians often discriminated against and even killed these people. As a minority, they were often forced to live in separate neighborhoods called ghettos. Often, they were forbidden to own land and to practice certain trades. Beginning in the 1100's, rulers in England, France, and central Europe even drove out these people. Many of them settled in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Over the centuries, these people Eastern Europe developed thriving communities. During the 1300's, this spread from Asia across Europe. It is a disease that spreads quickly and kills large numbers of people. This illness is caused by a type of bacteria spread by fleas. Rats carry the fleas. This probably began in central Asia and spread to other places through trade. It first broke out in China in the 1330's. Between 40 and 60 million people eventually died, nearly half of the Chinese population. Trade between China, India, the Middle East, and Europe was greatly encouraged by the Mongols. Merchants used the Silk Road and other trade routes. Expanded trade also made it possible for this to spread quickly. In 1346, it reached the trading city of Caffa on the Black Sea. Italian ships carried it to the island of Sicily. From there, it spread to the Italian mainland and onto the continent of Europe. By the end of the 1340's, it had surfaced in France, Germany, and England. By 1351, it had reached Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Estimates of the dead in Europe between 1347 and 1351 range from 19 to 38 million people— nearly one out of every two Europeans. People at the time did not know why this had happened. Some people thought God was punishing them for their sins. Others blamed the Jews. For this reason, the Germans expelled many Jews from some of their cities. It had an enormous effect on the economy of Europe. With so many deaths, trade declined. Wages rose steeply because of a high demand for workers. Fewer people, though, meant less demand for food, so food prices fell sharply. Like the Crusades, it weakened feudalism.