The Feudal Realtionship fedual_relationship1

The relationship between a lord and his vassal was made official with a public ceremony known
as the “act of homage.” To symbolically illustrate this relationship the following ceremony was
typically performed:
Baron Robert sat in his chair wearing ermine robes and a velvet cap with his wife at his side. His
vassals, clothed in full armor, were arranged in a semi-circle around the great hall. Sir Andre,
dressed in silvered mail and helmet, came forward and stepped up to the baron’s chair, knelt, and
clasped his hands together as a sign of humility. Baron Robert rose from his chair, seized Sir
Andre’s hands and asked, “Who commends himself in the power of another?” Sir Andre then
replied: “Lord Baron, I, Sir Andre, will enter into your homage and faith and become your man.
By mouth and by hands, I swear and promise to keep faith and loyalty to you against all others. I
swear to provide service to you by guarding your rights with all my strength for as long as I shall
live. Nor will I ever, through word or by deed, do anything which is unpleasing to you my lord.”
In response Baron Robert exclaimed, “We do promise to keep faith to you, vassal Andre, and
guarantee to you the lands given by us, to you and your heirs, against every creature.”
Baron Robert then bent forward and kissed Sir Andre proclaiming, “It is right that those who
offer us unbroken fidelity should be protected by our aid.” Sir Andre rose to his feet and placed
his right hand on a small gold box that was said to contain the bones of a saint. Sir Andre
declared, “In the name of God, I, André, swear that I will truly keep the promise which I have
taken. I will always remain faithful to Baron Robert my lord and protector.”
After Sir Andre finished, Baron Robert gave his vassal a handful of dirt. This symbolized the
lord’s gift of a fief and promise to protect his vassal if he were ever attacked. Dramatizing an
event in this manner helped impress it on people’s minds since written feudal contracts were
extremely rare during the Middle Ages. However, if either side failed to keep their promises the
feudal relationship was nullified and voided.
1. What were the key features of the “act of homage”?
2. Which medieval value is most prominently displayed in the feudal relationship? Explain and
defend your choice.
Part Two: read the following scenario to better understand how the feudal relationship operated
among various knights.
Charles is a powerful knight living in 12th-century England. He has large tracts of lands on
which are located several villages. His serfs work these lands, giving him part of the crops and
performing important services for him.
Charles gives two other knights, William and Edward, the right to control and use parts of his
lands. In return, these two knights have both sworn that they will always be loyal to Charles.
They are also obligated to provide specific services that include military and financial duties to
Charles. As a result, if another knight should ever attack Charles, he can call on William and
Edward for assistance. In return, Charles has agreed to protect William and Edward if they ever
have difficulties and need military aid.
If a very powerful lord were to attack Charles, he knows he can also depend on Henry, a knight
living in a nearby castle, for assistance. This is because Henry has agreed that he will always
protect Charles. In return, Charles has sworn that he will always be loyal to Henry.
Therefore, Charles feels secure in the knowledge that if necessary he can rely on other knights
for military assistance.
1. Which of the knights mentioned were lords?
2. Which of the knights mentioned were vassals?
3. Draw a diagram that accurately shows the feudal relationship among Charles, William,
Edward, and Henry. Clearly label which individuals are lords and which are vassals.