The Manorial System: Obligations and Allegiances. Until the 10th century most political organization was local. Manorialism was a system of reciprocal economic and political obligations between landlords and peasants. Most individuals were serfs living on self-sufficient agricultural estates (manors). In return for protection they gave lords part of their crops and provided labor services. Inferior technology limited agricultural output until the 9th century introduction of the moldboard plow and the three-field cultivation system increased yields. Serfs bore many burdens, but they were not slaves;. They had heritable ownership of houses and land as long as they met obligations. Peasant villages provided community life and limited self-government.