Fees for military service were reduced as the burden of defence lessened following the Black Death. Many lost their land to freeholders and copyholders as a result and many lords started to sell their land for £10–20 each to meet their debts. The legal protection that had formerly been given the freeholder was also withdrawn by the feudal courts. After the 15th century, the lords of manors, dependent on trade and commerce for the survival of their estates, found themselves in competition with the merchant and the banks of the time. Thus many leased their manors to merchants and banks.
The act of making a manor lord was known as 'county' or 'Sir' (Latin: rex). The problem for such lords was taxation. The later Middle Ages were characterised by a rise in papal taxation, increasing fiscal burdens on the crown and therefore requiring more tax revenue. Accordingly, in 1377 one such lord, Sir Thomas de Beauchamp, was forced to surrender the manor of Bulmer to the Crown. From then on the senior male lines were cut out of the immediate family of the lord.
Some of the manors were seized by the crown following the Black Death; and if these lords fell into financial difficulties the Crown might seize the manor upon its behalf. If a lord was unable to pay his feudal services for some reason he too might be stripped of his land and copies of writs to this effect were sometimes sent to defray the expenses of their illegal seizure. d2c66b5586