A fief (/fiːf/; Latin: feudum) was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable property or rights granted by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty (or "in fee") in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the personal ceremonies of homage and fealty. The fees were often lands or revenue-producing real property held in feudal land tenure: these are typically known as fiefs or fiefdoms. However, not only land but anything of value could be held in fee, including governmental office, rights of exploitation such as hunting or fishing, monopolies in trade, and tax farms.
In ancient Rome a "benefice" (from the Latin noun beneficium, meaning "benefit") was a gift of land (precaria) for life as a reward for services rendered, originally, to the state. In medieval Latin European documents, a land grant in exchange for service continued to be called a beneficium (Latin). Later, the term feudum, or feodum, began to replace beneficium in the documents. The first attested instance of this is from 984, although more primitive forms were seen up to one hundred years earlier. The origin of the feudum and why it replaced beneficium has not been well established, but there are multiple theories, described below.
The most widely held theory is put forth by Marc Bloch that it is related to the Frankish term *fehu-ôd, in which *fehu means "cattle" and -ôd means "goods", implying "a moveable object of value." When land replaced currency as the primary store of value, the Germanic word *fehu-ôd replaced the Latin word beneficium. This Germanic origin theory was also shared by William Stubbs in the nineteenth century.
A theory put forward by Archibald R. Lewis that the origin of 'fief' is not feudum (or feodum), but rather foderum, the earliest attested use being in Astronomus's Vita Hludovici (840). In that text is a passage about Louis the Pious which says annona militaris quas vulgo foderum vocant, which can be translated as "(Louis forbade that) military provender which they popularly call 'fodder' (be furnished)."
A theory by Alauddin Samarrai suggests an Arabic origin, from fuyū (the plural of fay, which literally means "the returned", and was used especially for 'land that has been conquered from enemies that did not fight'). Samarrai's theory is that early forms of 'fief' include feo, feu, feuz, feuum and others, the plurality of forms strongly suggesting origins from a loanword. First use of these terms was in Languedoc, one of the least-Germanized areas of Europe and bordered Muslim Spain, where the earliest use of feuum as a replacement for beneficium can be dated to 899, the same year a Muslim base at Fraxinetum (La Garde-Freinet) in Provence was established. It is possible, Samarrai says, that French scribes, writing in Latin, attempted to transliterate the Arabic word fuyū (the plural of fay), which was being used by the Muslim invaders and occupiers at the time, resulting in a plurality of forms - feo, feu, feuz, feuum and others - from which eventually feudum derived. Samarrai, however, also advises medieval and early modern Muslim scribes often used etymologically "fanciful roots" in order to claim the most outlandish things to be of Arabian or Muslim origin.
In the 10th and 11th centuries the Latin terms for fee could be used either to describe dependent tenure held by a man from his lord, as the term is used now by historians, or it could mean simply "property" (the manor was, in effect, a small fief). It lacked a precise meaning until the middle of the 12th century, when it received formal definition from land lawyers.
In English usage, the word "fee" is first attested around 1250–1300 (Middle English); the word fief from around 1605–15. In French, the term fief is found from the middle of the 13th century (Old French), derived from the 11th-century terms feu, fie. The odd appearance of the second f in the form fief may be due to influence from the verb fiever 'to grant in fee'. In French, one also finds "seigneurie" (land and rights possessed by a "seigneur" or "lord", 12th-century), which gives rise to the expression "seigneurial system" to describe feudalism.
Originally, vassalage did not imply the giving or receiving of landholdings (which were granted only as a reward for loyalty), but by the eighth century the giving of a landholding was becoming standard. The granting of a landholding to a vassal did not relinquish the lord's property rights, but only the use of the lands and their income; the granting lord retained ultimate ownership of the fee and could, technically, recover the lands in case of disloyalty or death. In 8th-century France, Charles Martel was the first to make large-scale and systematic use (the practice had remained until then sporadic) of the remuneration of vassals by the concession of the usufruct of lands (a beneficatium or "benefice" in the documents) for the life of the vassal, or, sometimes extending to the second or third generation.
By the middle of the 10th century, fee had largely become hereditary. The eldest son of a deceased vassal would inherit, but first he had to do homage and fealty to the lord and pay a "relief" for the land (a monetary recognition of the lord's continuing proprietary rights over the property).
Historically, the fees of the 11th and the 12th century derived from two separate sources. The first was land carved out of the estates of the upper nobility. The second source was allodial land transformed into dependent tenures. During the 10th century in northern France and the 11th century in France south of the Loire, local magnates either recruited or forced the owners of allodial holdings into dependent relationships and they were turned into fiefs. The process occurred later in Germany, and was still going on in the 13th century.
In England, Henry II transformed them into important sources of royal income and patronage. The discontent of barons with royal claims to arbitrarily assessed "reliefs" and other feudal payments under Henry's son King John resulted in Magna Carta of 1215.
Eventually, great feudal lords sought also to seize governmental and legal authority (the collection of taxes, the right of high justice, etc.) in their lands, and some passed these rights to their own vassals.
The privilege of minting official coins developed into the concept of seigniorage.
In 13th-century Germany, Italy, England, France, and Spain the term "feodum" was used to describe a dependent tenure held from a lord by a vassal in return for a specified amount of knight service and occasional financial payments (feudal incidents).
However, knight service in war was far less common than:
A lord in late 12th-century England and France could also claim the right of:
In northern France in the 12th and 13th centuries, military service for fiefs was limited for offensive campaigns to 40 days for a knight. By the 12th century, English and French kings and barons began to commute military service for cash payments (scutages), with which they could purchase the service of mercenaries.
A list of several hundred such fees held in chief between 1198 and 1292, along with their holders' names and form of tenure, was published in three volumes between 1920 and 1931 and is known as The Book of Fees; it was developed from the 1302 Testa de Nevill.
Bastard feudalism is a somewhat controversial term invented by 19th century historians to characterize the form feudalism took in the Late Middle Ages, primarily in England. Its distinctive feature is that middle-ranking figures rendered military, political, legal, or domestic service in return for money, office, or influence. As a result, the gentry began to think of themselves as the men of their lord rather than of the king. Individually, they are known as retainers, and collectively as the "affinity" of the lord, among other terms.Brecqhou
Brecqhou (or Brechou; French pronunciation: [bʁɛku]) is one of the Channel Islands, located just west of Sark. Brecqhou is politically part of both Sark and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It has been established in the courts that Brecqhou is a tenement of Sark. The Ministry of Justice, the department of the United Kingdom government with responsibility for the Channel Islands, considers Brecqhou part of Sark.Duchy of Prussia
The Duchy of Prussia (German: Herzogtum Preußen, Polish: Księstwo Pruskie) or Ducal Prussia (German: Herzogliches Preußen, Polish: Prusy Książęce) was a duchy in the region of Prussia established as a result of secularization of the State of the Teutonic Order during the Protestant Reformation in 1525.
It was the first Protestant state when Albert, Duke of Prussia formally adopted Lutheranism as early as 1525. It was inhabited by a dominant German-speaking population, as well as Polish and Lithuanian minorities. In old texts and in Latin, the term Prut(h)enia refers alike to Ducal Prussia, its western neighbor Royal Prussia, and their common predecessor, Teutonic Prussia. The adjectival form of the name was "Prut(h)enic".In 1525 during the Protestant Reformation, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Albert, secularized the order's Prussian territory, becoming Albert, Duke of Prussia. The Lutheran church established in his duchy was the first Protestant state church to be founded. His duchy, which had its capital in Königsberg (Polish: Królewiec, Lithuanian: Karaliaučius; modern Kaliningrad), was established as fief of the Crown of Poland. It was inherited by the Hohenzollern prince-electors of Brandenburg in 1618; this personal union is referred to as Brandenburg-Prussia. Frederick William, the "Great Elector" of Brandenburg, achieved full sovereignty over the territory in the 1657 Treaty of Wehlau, which was confirmed in the 1660 Treaty of Oliva. The Duchy of Prussia was elevated to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701.Duke
A duke (male) or duchess (female) can either be a monarch ruling over a duchy or a member of royalty or nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch. The title comes from French duc, itself from the Latin dux, 'leader', a term used in republican Rome to refer to a military commander without an official rank (particularly one of Germanic or Celtic origin), and later coming to mean the leading military commander of a province.
The title dux survived in the Eastern Roman Empire where it was used in several contexts signifying a rank equivalent to a captain or general. Later on, in the 11th century, the title Megas Doux was introduced for the post of commander-in-chief of the entire navy.
During the Middle Ages the title (as Herzog) signified first among the Germanic monarchies. Dukes were the rulers of the provinces and the superiors of the counts in the cities and later, in the feudal monarchies, the highest-ranking peers of the king. A duke may or may not be, ipso facto, a member of the nation's peerage: in the United Kingdom and Spain all dukes are/were also peers of the realm, in France some were and some were not, while the term is not applicable to dukedoms of other nations, even where an institution similar to the peerage (e.g., Grandeeship, Imperial Diet, Hungarian House of Magnates) existed.
During the 19th century many of the smaller German and Italian states were ruled by Dukes or Grand Dukes. But at present, with the exception of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, there are no dukes ruling as monarchs. Duke remains the highest hereditary title (aside from titles borne by the reigning or formerly reigning dynasty) in Portugal (though now a republic), Spain, and the United Kingdom. In Sweden, members of the Royal Family are given a personal dukedom at birth. The Pope, as a temporal sovereign, has also, though rarely, granted the title of Duke or Duchess to persons for "services" to the Holy See. In some realms the relative status of "duke" and "prince", as titles borne by the nobility rather than by members of reigning dynasties, varied—e.g., in Italy and the Netherlands.
A woman who holds in her own right the title to such duchy or dukedom, or is the wife of a duke, is normally styled duchess. Queen Elizabeth II, however, is known by tradition as Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands and Duke of Lancaster in Lancashire.Fengjian
Fēngjiàn (封建) was a political ideology during the later part of the Zhou dynasty of ancient China, its social structure forming a decentralized system of government based on four occupations, or "four categories of the people." The Zhou kings enfeoffed their fellow warriors and relatives, creating large domains of land. The Fengjian system they created allocated a region or piece of land to an individual, establishing him as the ruler of that region. These eventually rebelled against the Zhou Kings, and developed into their own kingdoms, thus ending the centralized rule of the Zhou dynasty. As a result, Chinese history from the Zhou or Chou dynasty (1046 BC–256 BC) to the Qin dynasty has been termed a feudal period by many Chinese historians, due to the custom of enfeoffment of land similar to that in Europe. But scholarship has suggested that fengjian otherwise lacks some of the fundamental aspects of feudalism. It often related with Confucianism but also Legalism.
Each state was independent and had its own tax and legal systems along with unique currency. The nobles were required to pay regular homage to the king and to provide him with soldiers at the time of war. This structure played an important part in the political structure of Western Zhou which was expanding its territories in the east. In due course this resulted in the rising power of the nobles, who fought among themselves for power, leading to the dwindling authority of the Zhou kings which eventually brought about their downfall.During the pre-Qin period, fengjian represented the Zhou dynasty political system, and various thinkers, such as Confucius, looked to this system as a concrete ideal of political organization. In particular, according to Confucius, during the Warring States period, the traditional system of rituals and music had become empty and hence his goal was to return to or bring back the Zhou dynasty political system. With the establishment of the Qin dynasty in 220 BCE, the Qin emperor unified the various vassals and abolished fengjian organization, consolidating a new system of rule, namely the junxian or prefectural system. The Qin emperor established thirty-six prefects and created a centralized system to combat dissent by local officials. There are many differences between the two systems, but one is particularly worth mentioning: the prefectural system gave more power to the emperor, since it congealed power at the center or the top. From the Qin dynasty onward, Chinese literati would find a tension between the Confucian ideal of fengjian and the imperial system. After the establishment of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 207 CE), Confucianism became the imperial ideology and scholars and officials again began to look to the Zhou dynasty fengjian system as an ideal. These scholars advocated incorporating elements of the fengjian system into the junxian system. The Han dynasty rulers parceled out land to relatives, thus combining the junxian and fengjian systems.Feudal baron
A feudal baron is a vassal holding a heritable fief called a barony, comprising a specific portion of land, granted by an overlord in return for allegiance and service. Following the end of European feudalism, feudal baronies have largely been superseded by baronies held as a rank of nobility, without any attachment to a fief. However, in Scotland, the feudal dignity of baron remains in existence, and may be bought and sold independently of the land to which is was formerly attached.Feudalism
Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.
Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the Middle Ages. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.A broader definition of feudalism, as described by Marc Bloch (1939), includes not only the obligations of the warrior nobility but also those of all three estates of the realm: the nobility, the clergy, and the peasantry bound by manorialism; this is sometimes referred to as a "feudal society". Since the publication of Elizabeth A. R. Brown's "The Tyranny of a Construct" (1974) and Susan Reynolds's Fiefs and Vassals (1994), there has been ongoing inconclusive discussion among medieval historians as to whether feudalism is a useful construct for understanding medieval society.Harima Province
Harima Province (播磨国, Harima no kuni) or Banshū (播州) was a province of Japan in the part of Honshū that is the southwestern part of present-day Hyōgo Prefecture. Harima bordered on Tajima, Tanba, Settsu, Bizen, and Mimasaka Provinces. Its capital was Himeji.
During the Edo period of Japanese history, the Akō Domain (fief) was part of Harima. The Forty-seven rōnin were samurai of Akō han. Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries, a shipbuilder and major Boeing engine subcontractor gets its name from the province.Jion (monk)
Jion (1351–1409) was a monk during the Sengoku period (15th century) of Japan. Jion had been the founder of the Nen ryu fighting style, in which it was famed through the simple saying "Strike with the left arm extended". Throughout Jion's life, he had thoroughly trained fourteen disciples; Tsutsumi Hozan had been the 12th, in which he was thoroughly trained with the jitte fighting style. Tsutsumi Hozan once ripped off another disciples' jaw. Jion would see him never again. Jion had been rather strict into who would be transimitted of his teachings. Jion had assigned the system so that only one disciple could attain it within each specific fief. This was to make sure that Jion's influence would greatly spread between regions. Thus, in the end, Jion's fourteen disciples effectively developed and transmitted Jion's art throughout fourteen different regions. Due to this, many famed swordsmen such as Kamiizumi Nobutsuna and Yagyu Muneyoshi would be descended through Jion's teachings. It is known that Miyamoto Musashi himself had also somewhat followed some principles laid down from the monk Jion.List of hundreds of Sweden
A hundred is a geographic division formerly used in northern Germanic countries and related colonies, which historically was used to divide a larger region into smaller administrative divisions. The equivalent term in Swedish is härad (in Uppland also known as hundare during the early Middle Ages); in Danish and Norwegian, herred; in Finnish, kihlakunta; and in Estonian, kihelkond.Municipal charter
A city charter or town charter (generically, municipal charter) is a legal document (charter) establishing a municipality such as a city or town. The concept developed in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Traditionally the granting of a charter gave a settlement and its inhabitants the right to town privileges under the feudal system. Townspeople who lived in chartered towns were burghers, as opposed to serfs who lived in villages. Towns were often "free", in the sense that they were directly protected by the king or emperor, and were not part of a feudal fief.
Today the process for granting is determined by the type of government of the state in question. In monarchies, charters are still often a royal charter given by the Crown or the state authorities acting on behalf of the Crown. In federations, the granting of charters may be within the jurisdiction of the lower level of government such as province.Partitions of the Duchy of Pomerania
The Duchy of Pomerania was partitioned several times to satisfy the claims of the male members of the ruling House of Pomerania dynasty. The partitions were named after the ducal residences: Pomerania-Barth, -Demmin, -Rügenwalde, -Stettin, -Stolp, and -Wolgast. None of the partitions had a hereditary character, the members of the House of Pomerania inherited the duchy in common. The duchy thus continued to exist as a whole despite its division. The only exception was made during a war with the Margraviate of Brandenburg, when in 1338 Barnim III of Pomerania-Stettin was granted his partition as a fief directly from the Holy Roman Emperor, while Pomerania-Wolgast remained under formal Brandenburgian overlordship. However, already in 1348, German king and later emperor Charles IV again granted the Duchy of Pomerania as a whole and the Principality of Rügen as a fief to the dukes of both Pomerania-Stettin and Pomerania-Wolgast, nullifying Brandenburg's claims by granting Imperial immediacy.Sanjak-bey
Sanjak-bey, sanjaq-bey or -beg (meaning "Lord of the Standard") was the title given in the Ottoman Empire to a Bey (a high-ranking officer, but usually not a Pasha) appointed to the military and administrative command of a district (sanjak, in Arabic liwa'), answerable to a superior wāli or other provincial governor. In a few cases the sanjak-bey was himself directly answerable to Istanbul.
Like other early Ottoman administrative offices, the sanjak-bey had a military origin: the term sanjak (and liva) means "flag" or "standard" and denoted the insigne around which, in times of war, the cavalrymen holding fiefs (timars or ziamets) in the specific district gathered. The sanjkabey was in turn subordinate to a beylerbey ("Bey of Beys") who governed an eyalet and commanded his subordinate sanjak-beys in war. In this way, the structure of command on the battlefield resembled the hierarchy of provincial government.The office of sanjak-bey resembled that of the beylerbey on a more modest scale. Like the beylerbey, the sanjak-bey drew his income from a prebend, which consisted usually of revenues from the towns, quays and ports within the boundary of his sanjak. Within his own sanjak, a governor was responsible above all for maintaining order and, with the cooperation of the fief holders, arresting and punishing wrongdoers. For this, he usually received half of the fines imposed on miscreants, with the fief holder on whose lands the misdeed took place, receiving the other half. Sanjak governors also had other duties, for example, the pursuit of bandits, the investigation of heretics, the provision of supplies for the army, or the despatch of materials for shipbuilding, as the sultan commanded.State of the Teutonic Order
The State of the Teutonic Order (German: Staat des Deutschen Ordens; Latin: Civitas Ordinis Theutonici), also called Deutschordensstaat (German: [ˈdɔʏtʃ ɔɐdənsˌʃtaːt]) or Ordensstaat ([ˈɔɐdənsˌʃtaːt]) in German, was a crusader state formed by the Teutonic Knights or Teutonic Order during the 13th century Northern Crusades along the Baltic Sea. The state was based in Prussia after the Order's conquest of the Pagan Old Prussians which began in 1230. It expanded to include at various times Courland, Gotland, Livonia, Neumark, Pomerelia and Samogitia. Its territory was in the modern countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden (Gotland). Most of the territory was conquered by military orders, after which German colonization occurred to varying effect.
The Livonian Brothers of the Sword controlling Terra Mariana were incorporated into the Teutonic Order as its autonomous branch Livonian Order in 1237. In 1346, the Duchy of Estonia was sold by the King of Denmark for 19,000 Köln marks to the Teutonic Order. The shift of sovereignty from Denmark to the Teutonic Order took place on 1 November 1346.Following its defeat in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 the Teutonic Order fell into decline and its Livonian branch joined the Livonian Confederation established in 1422–1435. The Teutonic lands in Prussia were split in two after the Peace of Thorn in 1466. The western part of Teutonic Prussia was converted into Royal Prussia, which became a more integral part of Poland. The monastic state in the east was secularized in 1525 during the Protestant Reformation as the Duchy of Prussia, a Polish fief governed by the House of Hohenzollern. The Livonian branch continued as part of the Livonian Confederation until its dissolution in 1561.Treaty of Grimnitz
The Treaty of Grimnitz (26 August 1529) was the final settlement of a long-standing dispute between the House of Pomerania and the House of Hohenzollern regarding the legal status and succession in the Duchy of Pomerania. It renewed and amended the Treaty of Pyritz of 1493.With some formal caveats, the House of Pomerania received the Duchy of Pomerania as an immediate imperial fief. In turn the Electors of Brandenburg were granted the right of succession. The treaty was concluded between Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg, and the Pomeranian dukes Barnim IX and Georg I in Grimnitz near Eberswalde and was confirmed by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1530 at the Imperial Diet in Augsburg.Treaty of Pyritz
The Treaty of Pyritz settled claims of the House of Pomerania and the House of Hohenzollern regarding the legal status and succession in the Duchy of Pomerania on 26 and 28 March 1493. John Cicero, Elector of Brandenburg of the Hohenzollern renounced the Electorate of Brandenburg's claims to hold the Pomeranian duchy as a fief on 26 March in Pyritz (now Pyrzyce). In turn, Bogislaw X, Duke of Pomerania acknowledged Brandenburgian succession in his duchy in case of the extinction of his dynasty on 28 March in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad). The treaty was the most important achievement of Bogislaw X's foreign policy. It was confirmed and amended when a final settlement between the two houses was reached in the Treaty of Grimnitz in 1529.Treaty of Soldin (1466)
For the 1309 treaty between Brandenburg and the Teutonic Order, see Treaty of Soldin (1309).The Treaty of Soldin (German: Vertrag von Soldin) was signed on 21 January 1466 at Soldin (now Myślibórz) by the Brandenburgian elector Frederick II and the Pomeranian dukes Eric II and Wartislaw X. It was mediated by the town of Stettin (now Szczecin). The treaty temporarily settled a conflict about the succession of Otto III, Duke of Pomerania, who had died without issue: Emperor Frederick III, elector Frederick II as well as Eric II and Wartislaw X of Pomerania claimed to be the rightful heir of Otto's share of the Duchy of Pomerania.The Brandenburgian elector and the Pomeranian dukes bypassed the emperor's claims, and settled for a solution where the Pomeranian dukes took the Duchy of Pomerania, including Otto's as well as their own shares, as a fief of the Electorate of Brandenburg. The implementation of the treaty failed due to the refusal of parts of the Pomeranian nobility and the town of Stettin to obey to the treaty's terms. Neither did the Pomeranian dukes enforce the treaty, and successfully intrigued against it at the emperor's court. Brandenburg tried to enforce the treaty militarily, yet initially with limited success. Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor declared the treaty null and void in 1469, but confirmed Brandenburg's claims in 1470. The treaty of Soldin was superseded by the Second Peace of Prenzlau in May 1472, that ended the war and confirmed Pomerania as a Brandenburgian fief.Vassal
A vassal is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch, in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support by knights in exchange for certain privileges, usually including land held as a tenant or fief. The term is applied to similar arrangements in other feudal societies.
In contrast, fealty (fidelitas) was sworn, unconditional loyalty to a monarch.Vingtaine du Fief de la Reine
Vingtaine du Fief de la Reine is one of the five vingtaines of St Martin in the Channel Island of Jersey. The Vingtenier du Fief de la Reine is currently Mr D West as enrolled through the Honorary Police of St Martin. The Connétable of St Martin is Ms K Shenton Stone, as elected unopposed in the 2018 Jersey General Election. In Jerriais, the vingtaine is known as La Vîngtaine du Fief du Rouai.
See also Vingtaine de Faldouet; Vingtaine de la Queruee; Vingtaine de Rozel and Vingtaine de l'Eglise.