|Feudal land tenure in England|
In the feudal system of the European Middle Ages, an ecclesiastical fief, held from the Catholic Church, followed all the laws laid down for temporal fiefs. The suzerain, e.g. bishop, abbot, or other possessor, granted an estate in perpetuity to a person, who thereby became his vassal.
As such, the grantee at his enfeoffment did homage to his overlord, took an oath of fealty, and made offering of the prescribed money or other object, by reason of which he held his fief. These requirements had to be repeated as often as there was a change in the person of the suzerain or vassal. These fiefs were granted by churchmen to princes, barons, knights, and others, who thereupon assumed the obligation of protecting the church and domains of the overlord.
This system of feudal tenure was not always restricted to lands, as church revenues and tithes were often farmed out to secular persons as a species of ecclesiastical fief. Strictly speaking, however, a fief was usually defined as immovable property whose usufruct perpetually conceded to another under the obligation of fealty and personal homage. A fief was not ecclesiastical simply because its overlord was a churchman; it was requisite also that the domain granted should be church property. Lands, which belonged to the patrimony of an ecclesiastic, became a secular fief if he bestowed them on a vassal.
All fiefs were personal and hereditary, and many of the latter could be inherited by female descent.
Fiefs bestowed by the Church on vassals were called active fiefs; when churchmen themselves undertook obligations to a suzerain, the fiefs were called passive. In the latter case, temporal princes gave certain lands to the Church by enfeoffing a bishop or abbot, and the latter had then to do homage as pro-vassal and undertake all the implied obligations. When these included military service, the ecclesiastic was empowered to fulfil this duty by a substitute.
It was as passive fiefs that many bishoprics, abbacies, and prelacies, as to their temporalities, were held of kings in the medieval period, and the power thereby acquired by secular princes over elections to ecclesiastical dignities led to the strife over investitures. These passive fiefs were conferred by the suzerain investing the newly elected churchman with crozier and ring at the time of his making homage, but the employment of these symbols of spiritual power gradually paved the way to claims on the part of the secular overlords (see Investiture Conflict).
Papal fiefs included not only individual landed estates, however vast, but also duchies, principalities, and even kingdoms. When the pope enfeoffed a prince, the latter did homage to him as to his liege lord, and acknowledged his vassalage by an annual tribute. Pope Pius V (29 March 1567) decreed that, in future, fiefs belonging strictly to the Patrimony of St. Peter should be incorporated into the Pontifical States whenever the vassalage lapsed, and that no new enfeoffment take place.
King John of England declared that he held his realm as a fief from the pope in 1213, and King James II of Aragon accepted the same relation for Sardinia and Corsica in 1295.
The most famous papal fief, the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, sprang from investitures of 1059 and 1269. Compare Terra Mariana, the lands in Livonia considered directly subject to the Holy See from 1215.
The Lordship of Ireland was for centuries considered a papal fief of the King of England, granted to Henry II of England by Pope Adrian IV by the 1155 bull Laudabiliter .
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A fief was the central element of feudalism. It consisted of heritable property or rights granted by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty 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.
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A benefice or living is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The Roman Empire used the Latin term beneficium as a benefit to an individual from the Empire for services rendered. Its use was adopted by the Western Church in the Carolingian Era as a benefit bestowed by the crown or church officials. A benefice specifically from a church is called a precaria, such as a stipend, and one from a monarch or nobleman is usually called a fief. A benefice is distinct from an allod, in that an allod is property owned outright, not bestowed by a higher authority.
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Feudalism as practised in the Kingdom of England during the medieval period was a state of human society that organized political and military leadership and force around a stratified formal structure based on land tenure. As a military defense and socio-economic paradigm designed to direct the wealth of the land to the king while it levied military troops to his causes, feudal society was ordered around relationships derived from the holding of land. Such landholdings are termed fiefdoms, traders, fiefs, or fees.
Imperial Count was a title in the Holy Roman Empire. In the medieval era, it was used exclusively to designate the holder of an imperial county, that is, a fief held directly (immediately) from the emperor, rather than from a prince who was a vassal of the emperor or of another sovereign, such as a duke or prince-elector. These imperial counts sat on one of the four "benches" of Counts, whereat each exercised a fractional vote in the Imperial Diet until 1806.
Feudalism in the Holy Roman Empire was a politico-economic system of relationships between liege lords and enfeoffed vassals that formed the basis of the social structure within the Holy Roman Empire during the High Middle Ages. In Germany the system is variously referred to Lehnswesen, Feudalwesen or Benefizialwesen.
Terra Mariana was the official name for Medieval Livonia or Old Livonia. It was formed in the aftermath of the Livonian Crusade, and its territories were composed of present-day Estonia and Latvia. It was established on 2 February 1207, as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire, but lost this status in 1215 when Pope Innocent III proclaimed it as directly subject to the Holy See.
Feudal duties were the set of reciprocal financial, military and legal obligations among the warrior nobility in a feudal system. These duties developed in both Europe and Japan with the decentralisation of empire and due to lack of monetary liquidity, as groups of warriors took over the social, political, judicial, and economic spheres of the territory they controlled. While many feudal duties were based upon control of a parcel of land and its productive resources, even landless knights owed feudal duties such as direct military service in their lord's behest. Feudal duties were not uniform over time or across political boundaries. And in their later development also included duties from and to the peasant population, such as abergement.
The concept of Livonia expanded with the conquest. It was also referred to as Maria's land after 1202 when the Pope took it under his auspices (Terra Mariana, Terra Matris, Terra beate Virginis), initially referring to the triangle of the lower sections of the Daugava and the Gauja, which roughly corresponds to today's Vidzeme. [...] Considering the land as his own allodium (fief) in 1207 Bishop Albert offered the land to the German King Philip who immediately returned it to the bishop as a feudum oblatum (fiefdom). [...] Establishing a Church state was always the underlying agenda of the crusades (Taube 1938, 21).