Seigneur

Last updated

Seigneur (English: Seigneur; Lord ) [1] was the name formerly given in France before the Revolution, and in New France and Canada until 1854, to the individual or the collective entity which owned a seigneurie — a form of land tenure — as a fief, with its associated rights over person and property. [2] A seigneur could be an individual, — male or female (seigneuresse), noble or non noble (roturier) — or a collective entity such a religious community, a monastery, a seminary, a college, a parish.

Contents

Sophie Masson, seigneuresse of Terrebonne, Canada Genevieve-Sophie Raymond Masson.jpg
Sophie Masson, seigneuresse of Terrebonne, Canada

This form of lordship was called seigneurie, the rights that the seigneur was entitled to were called seigneuriage, and the seigneur himself was the seigneur justicier, because he exercised greater or lesser jurisdiction over his fief. Since the repeal of the feudal system on 4 August 1789 in the wake of the French Revolution, this office has no longer existed and the title has only been used for sovereign princes by their families.

In common speech, the term grandseigneur has survived. Today this usually means an elegant, urbane gentleman. Some even use it in a stricter sense to refer to a man whose manners and way of life reflect his noble ancestry and great wealth. In addition, Le Grand Seigneur had long been the name given by the French to the Ottoman sultan. [3] Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ is the French equivalent of the English Our Lord Jesus Christ .

The word seignorage is also derived from seigneur.

The word shares the same provenance as the Italian Signore , Portuguese Senhor and Spanish Señor, which in addition to meaning "Mister" were used to signify a feudal lord.

Use in Crown dependencies

The title is still used in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. [4] In particular, it refers to the Seigneur of Sark, the hereditary ruler of Sark, an island in the English Channel which swears fealty to the British Crown.

See also

Related Research Articles

Feudalism Combination of legal and military customs and form of government in medieval Europe

Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, is a historiographical term used to describe the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships that were derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labor. Although it is derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), which was used during the Medieval period, the term feudalism and the system which it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people who lived during the Middle Ages. The classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations which existed among the warrior nobility and revolved around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.

Manorialism Economic, political and judicial institution during the Middle Ages in Europe

Manorialism, also known as the manor system or manorial system, was the method of land ownership in parts of Europe, notably England, during the Middle Ages. Its defining features included a large, sometimes fortified manor house in which the lord of the manor and his dependents lived and administered a rural estate, and a population of labourers who worked the surrounding land to support themselves and the lord. These labourers fulfilled their obligations with labour time or in-kind produce at first, and later by cash payment as commercial activity increased. Manorialism is sometimes included in the definition of feudalism.

A prince is a male ruler or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. Prince is also a title of nobility, often hereditary, in some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess. The English word derives, via the French word prince, from the Latin noun prīnceps, from primus (first) and capio, meaning "the first, foremost, the chief, most distinguished, noble ruler, prince".

Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power over others, acting as a master, a chief, or a ruler. The appellation can also denote certain persons who hold a title of the peerage in the United Kingdom, or are entitled to courtesy titles. The collective "Lords" can refer to a group or body of peers.

Baron Title of nobility in Europe

Baron is a rank of nobility or title of honour, often hereditary, in various European countries, either current or historical. The female equivalent is baroness. Typically, the title denotes an aristocrat who ranks higher than a lord or knight, but lower than a viscount or count. Often, barons hold their fief - their lands and income - directly from the monarch. Barons are less often the vassals of other nobles. In many kingdoms, they were entitled to wear a smaller form of a crown called a coronet.

Sark Jurisdiction of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

Sark is a part of the Channel Islands in the southwestern English Channel, off the coast of Normandy, France. It is a royal fief, which forms part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, with its own set of laws based on Norman law and its own parliament. It has a population of about 500. Sark has an area of 2.10 square miles (5.44 km2). Little Sark is a peninsula joined by a natural but high and very narrow isthmus to the rest of Sark.

Fief Central element of feudalism

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.

Michael Beaumont, 22nd Seigneur of Sark 22nd seigneur of Sark

John Michael Beaumont was the twenty-second Seigneur of Sark in the Channel Islands. He worked as a civil engineer before succeeding his paternal grandmother, Sibyl Hathaway, the 21st Dame of Sark, in 1974. During his rule, Beaumont saw the loss of many feudal rights enjoyed by the seigneurs, and he was consequently often described as the "last feudal baron".

Sibyl Hathaway 20th-century Dame of Sark

Dame Sibyl Mary Hathaway was Dame of Sark from 1927 until her death in 1974. Her 47-year rule over Sark, in the Channel Islands, spanned the reigns of four Monarchs: George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II.

William Frederick Collings was seigneur of Sark from 1882 until his death. One of the most eccentric lords of the island, he is known for his anti-clericalism, stubbornness, intemperance and generosity.

William Thomas Collings

William Thomas Collings was a clergyman of the Church of England who served as Seigneur of Sark from 1853 to 1882.

Brecqhou

Brecqhou is one of the Channel Islands, located off the west coast of Sark where they are now geographically detached from each other. Brecqhou is politically part of both Sark and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It has been established in the courts that Brecqhou is a tenement of Sark. The Ministry of Justice, the department of the United Kingdom government with responsibility for the Channel Islands, considers Brecqhou part of Sark.

Bailiwick of Guernsey British Crown dependency consisting of several islands

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is one of three Crown Dependencies.

Imperial, royal and noble ranks Legal privilege given to some members in monarchical and princely societies

Traditional rank amongst European royalty, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and among geographic regions, the following is a reasonably comprehensive list that provides information on both general ranks and specific differences.

Seigneur, was the name formerly given in France to someone who had been granted a seigneurie (fief) by the crown, with all its associated rights over person and property.

Examples of feudalism are helpful to fully understand feudalism and feudal society. Feudalism was practiced in many different ways, depending on location and time period, thus a high-level encompassing conceptual definition does not always provide a reader with the intimate understanding that detailed historical examples provide.

French nobility Social class in Middle Age and Early Modern France

The French nobility was a privileged social class in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period to the revolution in 1790. The nobility was revived in 1805 with limited rights as a titled elite class from the First Empire to the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848, when all privileges were permanently abolished. Hereditary titles, without privileges, continued to be granted until the Second Empire fell in 1870. They survive among their descendants as a social convention and as part of the legal name of the corresponding individuals.

Heerlijkheid Lowest administrative and judicial unit in Low Countries before 1800

A heerlijkheid was a landed estate that served as the lowest administrative and judicial unit in rural areas in the Dutch-speaking Low Countries before 1800. It originated as a unit of lordship under the feudal system during the Middle Ages. The English equivalents are manor, seigniory, and lordship. The heerlijkheid system was the Dutch version of manorialism that prevailed in the Low Countries and was the precursor to the modern municipality system in the Netherlands and Flemish Belgium.

Feudalism in England

Feudalism as practiced 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.

References

  1. Seigneur is often the preferred, if not exclusive, term used in English-language studies of the French seigneurial system (for example in: O. Hufton (1979), "The Seigneur and the Rural Community in Eighteenth-Century France. The Seigneurial Reaction"; R. Blaufarb (2010), "Communauté and Seigneurie in Early Modern Provence"; H. Root (1985), "Challenging the Seigneurie: Community and Contention on the Eve of the French Revolution".
  2. "Seigneur". Merriam-Webster.
  3. "Le Grand Seigneur (i.e., the sultan)". NYPL Digital Collections. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  4. Cunningham, Andrew John (2016-11-28). "The Feudal Dues (Guernsey) Law, 1980" (PDF). Guernsey Legal Resources. Retrieved 2020-04-17.