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Re: Ceremonies of property transfer

Poster: clevin@rci.ripco.com (Craig Levin)

Since I have emerged, unharmed in body and in spirit, but not in
grade point average, for, lo, that is an accident and not a matter
of my true nature, from that theology exam I spake of yesterday,
I can now settle down with Littleton's Tenures and impart unto
the good people here the tale of the fee simple.

A tenant in fee simple is an individual or a group which has
lands or other sorts of property (an advowson, the right to name
someone to be a parish priest or a cathedral canon, for example)
to hold to him (or them) and his (their) heirs foerver. Since a
university is, in theory, an immortal corporate person, like the
church, one could fairly say that the land has entered mortmain,
unless the city retains title, which, via eminent domain, it sort
of does. Anyhow, that's not the part with the schtick. You want
the actual ceremony of enfeoffment.

"Fealty is the same as that _fidelitas_ is in Latin. And when a
freeholder doth fealty to his lord, he shall hold his right hand
upon a book (a Bible-ed.), and shall say thus: 'Know ye this, my
lord, that I shall be faithful and true unto you, and faith to
you shall bear for the lands which I claim to hold of you, and
that I shall lawfully do to you the customs and services which I
ought to do, at the terms assigned, so help me God and his
saints;' and he shall kiss the book. But he shall not kneel when
he maketh his fealty, nor shall make such humble reverence as is
aforesaid in homage."

"And there is great diversity between the doing of fealty and of
homage; for homage cannot be done to any but to the lord himself;
but the steward of the lord's court, or bailiff, may take fealty
for the lord."

<_Littleton's_ _Tenures_ _in_ _English_, edited by Eugene
Wambaugh, LLD, published by John Byrne and Co., Washington, DC
1903, page 43>

Now, as to modernization:

The mayor <or the city manager> is clearly the steward of the
city, since lordship in a city is commonly held by all of the
citizens. The university, being also a communal body, in this
case, of the faculty, since American universities aren't on the
Bolognese plan of being a communal body of students, should have
either the chancellor or the provost do fealty, since he or she
is usually the boss of the deans. The service, in this case, is
similar to tenure by free alms, by which a monastery or other
ecclesiatical body, like most mediaeval universities, usually
held land-tenure by free alms was serving the lord of the land by
praying for him, his ancestors, his dogs, etc., and for a secular
body like the university in question, prayer would be out of the
question, methinks. On the other hand, the provost or chancellor
could make some glittering statement about education and its
benefits for the town as the university's service. The bit above
about "customs and services" is, IMO, a phrase that could be
changed as the service necessary for holding a piece of land
changed; no "standard" service for land existed, though military
service usually topped the charts.
Craig Levin
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