A local official in Anglo-Saxon and post-Conquest England. The most important were shire reeves (sheriffs) who administered royal justice and collected royal revenues within their shire. Manorial reeves organized the peasant labour force on estates and their duties were considerable. They received a money wage, grants of grazing land, and remission of rent and feudal dues. Although often of villein status those reeves who contrived through annual re-election to make their office hereditary had considerably improved their economic condition by the 14th century, when Chaucer wrote of them in The Canterbury Tales.
Subjects: History — Literary Studies (Early and Medieval).