Cirencester (Cirneceaster, Cyrenceaster, Cyringceaster) is described in Domesday as ancient demesne of the crown.
Gradually the landowners discovered that the only practical way out of their difficulties was to give up the old custom of working the manorial demesne by the forced labor of their villeins, and to cut it up into farms which were rented out to free tenants, and cultivated by them.
Certainty and legal protection were so essential that even villain holdings were treated as villain socage when legal protection was obtainable for it, as was actually the case with the peasants on Ancient demesne who could sue their lords by the little writ of right and the Monstraverunt.
In the course of these three days, or whatever the number was, many requirements of the demesne had to be met.
It would seem that the manorial grudges between landowner and peasant, which had been so fierce in the 14th century, had died down as the lords abandoned the old system of working their demesne by villein labor.
In 1087 the king held the manor of Wendover, and therefore it belonged to the ancient demesne of the crown.
To the north of the town is Knowsley Park, the demesne of the earls of Derby, with a mansion of various dates from the 15th century onward, containing a fine collection of pictures.
But what the Third Crusade showed most clearly was that the crusading movement was being lost to the papacy, and becoming part of the demesne of the secular state - organized by the state on its own basis of taxation, and conducted by the state according to its own method of negotiation.
The treatise on husbandry of Walter of Henley, dating from the early 13th century, is very valuable as describing the management of the demesne under the twoor three-field system.
If, however, the two conditions mentioned were forthcoming, villeins, or, as they were technically called, villein socmen of ancient demesne manors, could resist any attempt of their lords to encroach on their rights by depriving them of their holdings or increasing the amount of their customary services.