The word peasant came from the French word for "country" in the medieval era (15th century). Peasants worked on farms and had to be able to do a number of jobs on the farm. Peasants usually lived in rural areas and made up a large amount of the population. Most peasants could not read or write. They did not usually talk with the higher society unless it was about work. Some were serfs meaning they were not free to leave their lord's land.