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What is a fief? Within the context of European history during the Middle Ages, a fief was a small piece of land granted to someone for their services. Labor services by peasants were often included with the land. Fiefs were used as a source of income for vassals, who were the subordinates of high-ranking lords or nobles within society, or the king himself. Vassals are sometimes also referred to as lieges. In exchange for their services, most often serving as a knight to the lord, vassals were granted a fief.
fiefs and vassals pdf download
Fiefdom, also known as a feudal grant was the result of a member of society's dedicated service to a higher ranking member of society. As a reward for fealty, hard work, and acts of importance such as battle heroics, lords would grant their vassals a small piece of land so that they could better support their families and be recognized throughout society as someone of higher value. The land was often granted during a commemoration ceremony and a ceremony of investiture, both of which were rooted in traditions of the Christian faith. Manors were large areas of land controlled by a monarch, which were further divided into fiefs for lords who were vassals to that monarch.
The major responsibilities of the person in charge of a fief were providing, training, and arming knights for the protection of their lord. Owners of fiefs also enjoyed hunting privileges on behalf of the monarch they were a vassal to. However, these are not the only functions that a fief was used for.
Since fiefs were owned by high-ranking members of society and granted to someone else to serve as the tenant, labor was often provided by serfs. Serfs ranked much lower in society than lords and they were not seen as highly valuable. They worked long hours without pay and were rarely compensated in any way. They were not provided shelter by their master, the lord of the manor. Serfs also could not leave the manor where they resided.
The feudal system defined the society of the Middle Ages. Monarchs and other high-ranking nobles made up a small part of society. The majority of people were peasants and serfs who worked on fiefs in very poor conditions.
While fiefs made up a large portion of the territory of most kingdoms in England and other regions of western and central Europe, they were owned and run by only a small percentage of the population. Fiefs were worked by serfs, who made up about 90% of the population. The remaining 10% were knights, lords, and members of the nobility. Only knights who showed exemplary skill in their work were given the right to a fief owned by their lord.
The Franks are the Germanic people given credit for the earliest forms of the feudal system. Following their disbursement and a reorganization of Europe by the church, feudalism peaked in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Lords would give their vassals a fiefdom, or feudal grant, for acts of fealty and the land would be worked by peasants or serfs. Fiefs were used to grow crops for the serfs and their masters.
These lords were vassals, or subordinates to the monarch in social status. They swore an oath of loyalty to the monarch in exchange for the supervisory power they had in running the manor. In turn, lords were the superiors to peasants and serfs, who were at the bottom of the feudal hierarchy. Similar to the workers or general labor of a business, these individuals were the most populous and did the most work.
For extreme loyalty, heroic battle service, or other reasons, a monarch might award a portion of the manor (called a fief) to a vassal. These plots were about the size of a modern suburban housing development. There were many fiefs on the manor, and each fief held the lord and his family along with many families of peasants and serfs.
However, those granted fiefs were not the actual owners of the land. Rather, they were temporary tenants, and they had to follow the rules and regulations of the agreement, and avoid incurring complaints by their neighbors; otherwise, they could lose the land. Given their social standing, this was more commonly an issue with peasant fief-holders than lords.
Although the responsibilities were many, fiefs also came with a generous list of perks. Protection through a well-trained force of knights was probably the greatest benefit. Those who earned a fief also enjoyed a bit of an advantage over their fellow feudal comrades.
Those who earned these plots had many duties and requirements, such as farming the land. They were also responsible for training, feeding, housing, and equipping knights for the defense of the manor. The vassals also received some benefits, such as military protection, hunting privileges, small profits, and a slight increase in social status. The system of fiefdom was a vital part of Middle Ages life in Europe and contributed to the success and sufficiency of many who lived at this time.
Fiefs were technically owned by a monarch or high ranking lord within society. Their subordinates were known as vassals, and they were granted oversight of a fief if they proved their worth through hard work or acts of heroics.
Fiefs were small areas of land. Synonyms for the word "fief" include territory, land, terrain, realm, domain, and field. Most fiefs were used to grow crops, which would be used by serfs and their lords. 076b4e4f54