[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index][Search Archives]

Re: Ceremonies of property transfer

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


> I gather that the paying of homage is more in-depth than is the paying of
> fealty.  

You've got that right. The ceremony of homage makes one person
the man <l'homme> of another, which reduces the freedom of _both_
parties to act with regards to each other, and requires them both
to do certain services.

> In Sharon Kay Penman's historical novels, there is much attention paid to
> whether or fealty or homage was sworn by the Welsh to the English, and by the
> Welsh to their Prince.

Having never read her novels-I have to get out of school first,
and get a job, in order to afford books, sadly-I'd say that that
was an important difference. One might also note that the Welsh
never developed a full blown "feudal" system, but instead devised
a system in which land was held in common by the members of a

> What would be the differences in the wording of the oaths, by whom the oaths
> were sworn and to whom, and the settings?

I have already provided the text of a more or less standard
fealty oath as made in England near the end of the mediaeval
period, in another missive. Luckily, the same text I took that
oath from <Littleton's Tenures> has a similar sort of homage
ceremony, to wit:

"Homage is the most honorable service, and most humble service of
reverence, that a franktenant <a free person, who rents land-ed.>
may do to his lord. For when the tenant shall make homage to his
lord, he shall be ungirt, and his head uncovered, and his lord
shall sit, and the tenant shall kneel before him on both his
knees, and hold his hands jointly together between the hands of
his lord, and shall say thus: I become your man from this day
forward {of life and limb, and of earthly worship,} and unto you
shall be true and faithful, and bear to you faith for the
tenements that I claim to hold of you, saving the faith that I
owe unto our sovereign lord the king; and then the lord, so
sitting, shall kiss him." <page 39 of the edition of Littleton
that I used yesterday>

Note that in the fealty oath, the tenant was not made to kneel,
take off his hat and belt, or make any sort of bodily contact
with the lord. In fact, fealty could be given to the lord's
representative-his reeve, for example. Fealty also didn't involve
the giving over of one's life, limb, and reputation. However,
homage implied a form of guardianship by the lord; he'd stand by
his man in cases at law, for example, where fealty was a more
businesslike proposition, a straight service for land thing. 

A great deal of this is being examined by Susan Reynolds at
Oxford, and she's found that swearing homage or fealty wasn't as
common in the early Middle Ages <from about 500 until about the
First Crusade> as the academic mediaevalists' community had
assumed. Her _Fiefs_ _and_ _Vassals_ has been a tripwire for... 
interesting...discussions on mediev-l ever since it hit the
bookshops about 2 years ago. Frankly, it's hard to get around her
conclusions, since, judging by her footnotes and documentary
work, not only can she read the usual three languages that most
grad students who want to become mediaevalists <like me> learn,
which are modern Hochdeutsch, modern French, and Latin, but also
Old English, Italian, and Old French. I wouldn't be surprised if
she could also read either Dutch or Althochdeutsch, and maybe
Catalan and Welsh to boot.

Craig Levin
List Archives, FAQ, FTP:  http://sca.wayfarer.org/merryrose/
            Submissions:  atlantia@atlantia.sca.org
        Admin. requests:  majordomo@atlantia.sca.org