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 fully developed vassalage, the lord and the vassal would take part in a commendation ceremony composed of two parts, the homage and the fealty, including the use of Christian sacraments to show its sacred importance. According to Eginhard's brief description, the commendatio made to Pippin the Younger in 757 by Tassilo III, Duke of Bavaria, involved the relics of Saints Denis, Rusticus, Éleuthère, Martin, and Germain – apparently assembled at Compiegne for the event. Such refinements were not included from the outset when it was time of crisis, war, hunger, etc. Under feudalism, those who were weakest needed the protection of the knights who owned the weapons and knew how to fight.
Feudal society was increasingly based on the concept of "lordship" (French seigneur), which was one of the distinguishing features of the Early Middle Ages and had evolved from times of Late Antiquity.
In the time of Charlemagne (ruled 768–814), the connection slowly developed between vassalage and the grant of land, the main form of wealth at that time. Contemporaneous social developments included agricultural "manorialism" and the social and legal structures labelled — but only since the 18th century — "feudalism". These developments proceeded at different rates in various regions. In Merovingian times (5th century to 752), monarchs would reward only the greatest and most trusted vassals with lands. Even at the most extreme devolution of any remnants of central power, in 10th-century France, the majority of vassals still had no fixed estates.
The stratification of a fighting band of vassals into distinct groups might roughly correlate with the new term "fief" that had started to supersede "benefice" in the 9th century. An "upper" group comprised great territorial magnates, who were strong enough to ensure the inheritance of their benefice to the heirs of their family. A "lower" group consisted of landless knights attached to a count or duke. This social settling process also received impetus in fundamental changes in the conduct of warfare. As co-ordinated cavalry superseded disorganized infantry, armies became more expensive to maintain. A vassal needed economic resources to equip the cavalry he was bound to contribute to his lord to fight his frequent wars. Such resources, in the absence of a money economy, came only from land and its associated assets, which included peasants as well as wood and water.
Many empires have set up vassal states, based on tribes, kingdoms, or city-states, the subjects of which they wish to control without having to conquer or directly govern them. In these cases a subordinate state (such as a dependency, suzerainty, residency or protectorate) has retained internal autonomy, but has lost independence in foreign policy, while also, in many instances, paying formal tribute, or providing troops when requested.
In this framework, a formal colony or "junior ally" might also be regarded as a vassal state in terms of international relations, analogous to a domestic "fief-holder" or "trustee".
The concept of a vassal state uses the concept of personal vassaly to theorize formally hegemonic relationships between states – even those using non-personal forms of rule. Imperial states to which this terminology has been applied include, for instance: Ancient Rome, the Mongol Empire, Imperial China and the British Empire.
In Medieval Japan, the relations between the powerful daimyōs and shugo and the subordinate ji-samurai bear some obvious resemblance to western vassalage, although there are also some significant differences.
Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.. Ancient Chinese states
Ancient Chinese States (simplified Chinese: 诸侯; traditional Chinese: 諸侯; pinyin: Zhūhóu) were typified by variously sized city states and territories that existed in China prior to its unification by Qin Shi Huang in 221 BCE. In many cases these were vassal states characterized by tribute paid to the ruling Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE). Such states and fiefdoms would again emerge during later dynasties as a political expedient when required.Fealty
An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas (faithfulness), is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another.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.Fief
A fief (; 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.Fortanerius Vassalli
Fortanerius Vassalli (died October 1361) was an Italian Franciscan, who became Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, and a cardinal a few weeks before he died. He died on the way to Avignon.
He held a wide variety of ecclesiastical posts. He was Patriarch of Grado. He attacked the Manfredi of Faenza. He was Archbishop of Ravenna (1348 in one source, stepping down as minister general, but in other sources 1342-7) and Patriarch of Venice. He was also appointed Archdeacon of London late in 1361, and Prebendary of St. Paul's.Gongsun Kang
Gongsun Kang (pronunciation ) (fl. 200s) was an official and minor warlord who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He became a vassal of the state of Cao Wei in the early Three Kingdoms period.Homage (feudal)
Homage in the Middle Ages was the ceremony in which a feudal tenant or vassal pledged reverence and submission to his feudal lord, receiving in exchange the symbolic title to his new position (investiture). It was a symbolic acknowledgement to the lord that the vassal was, literally, his man (homme). The oath known as "fealty" implied lesser obligations than did "homage". Further, one could swear "fealty" to many different overlords with respect to different land holdings, but "homage" could only be performed to a single liege, as one could not be "his man" (i.e., committed to military service) to more than one "liege lord". A similar concept is the bay'ah, a type of oath in Islam.
There have been some conflicts about obligations of homage in history. For example, the Angevin monarchs of England were sovereign in England, i.e., they had no duty of homage regarding those holdings; but they were not sovereign regarding their French holdings. So Henry II was king of England, but he was merely Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Anjou. The Capetian kings in Paris, though weak militarily, claimed a right of homage. The usual oath was therefore modified by Henry to add the qualification "for the lands I hold overseas." The implication was that no "knights service" was owed for the conquered English lands.
After King John was forced to surrender Normandy to France in 1204, English magnates with holdings on both sides of the Channel were faced with conflict. John still expected to recover his ancestral lands, and those English lords who held lands in Normandy would have to choose sides. Many were forced to abandon their continental holdings. Two of the most powerful magnates, Robert de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Leicester and William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, negotiated an arrangement with the French king that if John had not recovered Normandy in a year-and-a-day, they would do homage to Philip. At first that seemed to satisfy John, but eventually, as a price for making peace with the French king to keep his lands, the Earl Marshall fell out of favour with John.The conflict between the French monarchs and the Angevin kings of England continued through the 13th century. When Edward I was asked to provide military service to Philip III in his war with Aragon in 1285, Edward made preparations to provide service from Gascony (but not England – he had not done "homage", and thus owed no service to France for the English lands). Edward's Gascon subjects did not want to go to war with their southern neighbours on behalf of France, and they undoubtedly appealed to Edward that as a sovereign, he owed the French King no service at all. A truce was arranged, however, before Edward had to decide what to do. But when Phillip III died, and his son Philip IV ascended the French throne in 1286, Edward dutifully but reluctantly performed "homage" for the sake of peace. In doing so, Edward added yet another qualification – that the duty owed was "according to the terms of the peace made between our ancestors".Institut national de la recherche agronomique
The Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA, pronounced [inʁa]; English: National Institute of Agricultural Research) is a French public research institute dedicated to agricultural science. It was founded in 1946 and is a Public Scientific and Technical Research Establishment under the joint authority of the Ministries of Research and Agriculture.
INRA leads projects of targeted research for a sustainable agriculture, a safeguarded environment and a healthy and high quality food. Based on the number of publications in agricultural sciences/crops and animal sciences, INRA is the first institute for agricultural research in Europe, and the second in the world. It belongs to the top 1% most cited research institutes.Kingdom of Imereti
The Kingdom of Imereti (Georgian: იმერეთის სამეფო) was a Georgian monarchy established in 1455 by a member of the house of Bagrationi when the Kingdom of Georgia was dissolved into rival kingdoms. Before that time, Imereti was considered a separate kingdom within the Kingdom of Georgia, to which a cadet branch of the Bagrationi royal family held the crown. This started in 1260 after David VI revolted against Mongolian rule and fled to Abkhazia. This was the result of the Mongolian conquest of Georgia during the 13th century which decentralized and fragmented Georgia, forcing the relocation of governmental centres to the provinces.
Imereti was conquered by Giorgi the Brilliant, who was subject to the Mongols, and united Imereti with the east Kingdom of Georgia. From 1455 onward, however, the kingdom became a constant battleground between Georgian, Persian and Turkish forces. Between 1555 and 1804 it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. On 25 April 1804 Solomon II of Imereti accepted Russian vassalage and in 1810 he was removed from the throne. During the time that Imereti was a vassal state, the Mingrelia, Abkhazia and Guria princedoms declared their independence from Imereti and established their own governments. In Persian - Azeri nomenclature the name of the region was changed to "baş açıq" which literally means "without a head scarf".Kyawswa of Pagan
Kyawswa (Burmese: ကျော်စွာ, pronounced [tɕɔ̀zwà]; 2 August 1260 – 10 May 1299) was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1289 to 1297. Son of the last sovereign king of Pagan Narathihapate, Kyawswa was one of many "kings" that emerged after the collapse of the Pagan Empire in 1287. Though still styled as King of Pagan, Kyawswa's effective rule amounted to just the area around Pagan city. Felt threatened by the three brothers of Myinsaing, who were nominally his viceroys, Kyawswa decided to become a Mongol vassal, and received such recognition from the Mongols in March 1297. He was ousted by the brothers in December 1297, and killed along with his son Theingapati on 10 May 1299.Principality of Bulgaria
The Principality of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: Княжество България, Knyazhestvo Balgariya) was a de facto independent, and de jure vassal state under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. It was established by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.
After the Russo-Turkish War ended with a Russian victory, the Treaty of San Stefano was signed by Russia and the Ottoman Empire on 3 March 1878. Under this, a large Bulgarian vassal state was agreed to, which was significantly larger: its lands encompassed nearly all ethnic Bulgarians in the Balkans, and included most of Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia, stretching from the Black Sea to the Aegean. However, the United Kingdom and Austria-Hungary were against the establishment of such a large Russian client state in the Balkans, fearing it would shift the balance of power in the Mediterranean. Due to this, the great powers convened and signed the Treaty of Berlin, superseding the Treaty of San Stefano, which never went into effect. This created a much smaller principality, alongside an autonomous Eastern Rumelia within the Ottoman Empire.
Although an Ottoman vassal, Bulgaria only acknowledged the authority of the Sublime Porte in a formal way. It had its own Constitution, flag and anthem, and conducted its own foreign policy. In 1885, a bloodless revolution resulted in Eastern Rumelia being de facto annexed by Bulgaria, which the Ottoman Empire accepted with the Tophane Agreement. On 5 October 1908, Bulgaria declared its independence as the Kingdom of Bulgaria.Seleucid army
The Seleucid army was the army of the Seleucid Empire, one of the numerous Hellenistic states that emerged after the death of Alexander the Great.
As with the other major Hellenistic armies, the Seleucid army fought primarily in the Greco-Macedonian style, with its main body being the phalanx. The phalanx was a large, dense formation of men armed with small shields and a long pike called the sarissa. This form of fighting had been developed by the Macedonian army in the reign of Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. Alongside the phalanx, the Seleucid armies used a great deal of native and mercenary troops to supplement their Greek forces, which were limited due to the distance from the Seleucid rulers' Macedonian homeland.State organisation of the Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire developed over the centuries a complex organization of government with the Sultan as the supreme ruler of a centralized government that had an effective control of its provinces, officials and inhabitants. Wealth and rank could be inherited but were just as often earned. Positions were perceived as titles such as viziers and aghas. Military service was a key to advancement in the hierarchy.
The expansion of the Empire called for a systematic administrative organization that developed into a dual system of military ("Central Government") and civil administration ("Provincial System") developed a kind of separation of powers with most higher executive functions carried out by the military authorities and judicial and basic administration carried out by civil authorities. Outside this system were various types of vassal and tributary states. Most of the areas ruled by the Ottomans were explicitly mentioned in the official full style of the sultan, including various lofty titles adopted to emphasize imperial rank and show the empire as being "successor-in-law" to conquered states.
The empire was divided into vilayets, with a governor assigned to each vilayet. The idea of vilayet originated from the Seljuk vassal state (Uç Beyliği) in central Anatolia. Over the years the Empire became an amalgamation of pre-existing polities, the Anatolian beyliks, brought under the sway of the ruling House of Osman.Suzerainty
Suzerainty (, and ) is any relationship in which one region or nation controls the foreign policy and international relations of a tributary state, while allowing the tributary nation to have internal autonomy.Suzerainty differs from true sovereignty in that, though the tributary state or person is technically independent and enjoys self-rule, in practice this self-rule is limited. Although the situation has existed in a number of historical empires, it is considered difficult to reconcile with 20th- or 21st-century concepts of international law, in which sovereignty either exists or does not. While a sovereign nation can agree by treaty to become a protectorate of a stronger power, modern international law does not recognise any way of making this relationship compulsory on the weaker power. Suzerainty, therefore, is a practical, de facto situation, rather than a legal, de jure one.Tenant-in-chief
In medieval and early modern Europe the term tenant-in-chief (or vassal-in-chief), denoted a person who held his lands under various forms of feudal land tenure directly from the king or territorial prince to whom he did homage, as opposed to holding them from another nobleman or senior member of the clergy. The tenure was one which denoted great honour, but also carried heavy responsibilities as the tenants-in-chief were originally responsible for providing knights and soldiers for the king's feudal army.Vassal Engine
The VASSAL Engine is a game engine for building and playing online adaptations of board games, tabletop games and card games. It allows users to play in real time over a live Internet connection, and also by email (PbeM). It runs on all platforms, and is free, open-source software. For example, there is a Star Wars Miniatures module, where players can play with up to three others in a digital replica of the table-top game.
It is written in Java and is available from SourceForge under the LGPL open source license.Vassal and tributary states of the Ottoman Empire
Vassal States were a number of tributary or vassal states, usually on the periphery of the Ottoman Empire under suzerainty of the Porte, over which direct control was not established, for various reasons.Vassal state
A vassal state is any state that has a mutual obligation to a superior state or empire, in a status similar to that of a vassal in the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support in exchange for certain privileges. In some cases, the obligation included paying tribute, but a state which does so is better described as a tributary state. Today, more common terms are puppet state, protectorate, client state, or associated state.Zengid dynasty
The Zengid or Zangid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty of Oghuz Turk origin, which ruled parts of the Levant and Upper Mesopotamia on behalf of the Seljuk Empire.