A manor house was historically the main residence of the lord of the manor. The house formed the administrative centre of a manor in the European feudal system; within its great hall were held the lord's manorial courts, communal meals with manorial tenants and great banquets. The term is today loosely applied to various country houses, frequently dating from the late medieval era, which formerly housed the landed gentry.
Manor houses were sometimes fortified, but this was frequently intended more for show than for defence. They existed in most European countries where feudalism existed, where they were sometimes known as castles, palaces, mansions, and so on.