A socager in the Kingdom of Valyria is a tenant who is holding land in return for either the performance of specified services or for payment, usually in cash, and not requiring military service unless it is levied. Socagers can rent or lease plots of land directly from a count, or can rent tenancy in existing buildings from gentry or baronial leaders of settlements without town charters. These are called local “lords of the manor,” and socagers who live in these settlements often have an entry in the custumal or manorial roll which details their fealty contract with their landlord. The fealty contract for a socager often involves more than just the payment of rent or service. For example, there may be a requirement for the socager to attend the manorial feudal court and be subject to the legal jurisdiction, or “soke” of the suzerain, but usually does not give the landlord rights to restrict the marriage or of the socager as is sometimes involved with villein, servant or serjeanty contracts.
The status and arrangement of socage is heritable, and passed down to the children of the socager. There are legal protections against eviction which the socager enjoys, and which differentiates the socager’s deed to tenancy from that of burgage, which grants freemann status but does not protect the renter in the same way.
While a socager, broadly defined, is a commoner who is a renter, it is important to make the distinction between those who rent from liege lords who have entered into a fealty contract, and those who rent from freemenn, often within a boroughs or city. The latter, in addition to not requiring a fealty contract, also do not place the renter in the coloni class. A renter who leases an apartment within a town, for example, is protected by the town charter, and would be counted as a burgess, not a colonus.