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yoke

Latin iugum, jugum.

The yoke was both a unit of assessment and a peasant landholding unit, found only in Kent. Like the corresponding units in other counties, the yoke was derived from the vocabulary of ploughing, the yoke being the name given to two oxen yoked abreast, four of which composed the standard
plough team. The yoke was a quarter of the Kentish sulung
, divided in turn into fiscal acres.

These fiscal acres could bear a variable relationship to the customary acres on the ground which in Kent appear to have numbered 240 . Since customary acres were normally composed of scattered
furlong strips whose size varied according to the nature of the soils and the shape of the fields, yokes could vary in size from area to area, or even within the same manor.

Despite variations in size, however, individual yokes could, like other
peasant holdings, remain fixed in size over generations, even centuries, their integrity maintained by the power of the lord or the customs of the manor. They provided the stable base for both the manorial and the assessment systems.

For further information, see Frederic Seebohm, The English village community (fourth edition, 1915); Alan Everitt, Continuity and colonisation: the evolution of Kentish settlement (1986); and Rosamond Faith, The English peasantry and the growth of lordship (1997).
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