Subinfeudation

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In English law, subinfeudation is the practice by which tenants, holding land under the king or other superior lord, carved out new and distinct tenures in their turn by sub-letting or alienating a part of their lands. [1] [2]

Contents

The tenants were termed mesne lords, with regard to those holding from them, the immediate tenant being tenant in capite. The lowest tenant of all was the freeholder, or, as he was sometimes termed, tenant paravail. The Crown, who in theory owned all lands, was lord paramount . [1]

The great lords looked with dissatisfaction on the increase of such subtenures. Accordingly, in 1290 a statute was passed, Quia Emptores , which allowed the tenant to alienate whenever he pleased, but the person to whom he granted the land was to hold it for the same immediate lord, and by the same services as the alienor held it before. [1]

Scotland

In Scots law, the feudal system was abolished by the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000. The length of a lease was limited to 175 years to prevent the existence of perpetual landlord-tenant relationships similar to those that existed under feudal tenure. [3]

Holy Roman Empire

Within the Holy Roman Empire, mesne fiefs were known as Afterlehen , which became inheritable over time and could have up to five "stations" between the actual holder of the fief and the overarching liege lord. [4]

See also

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Escheat is a common law doctrine that transfers the real property of a person who has died without heirs to the Crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in "limbo" without recognized ownership. It originally applied to a number of situations where a legal interest in land was destroyed by operation of law, so that the ownership of the land reverted to the immediately superior feudal lord.

In English law, a fee simple or fee simple absolute is an estate in land, a form of freehold ownership. It is a way that real estate and land may be owned in common law countries, and is the highest possible ownership interest that can be held in real property. Allodial title is reserved to governments under a civil law structure. The rights of the fee simple owner are limited by government powers of taxation, compulsory purchase, police power, and escheat, and it could also be limited further by certain encumbrances or conditions in the deed, such as, for example, a condition that required the land to be used as a public park, with a reversion interest in the grantor if the condition fails; this is a fee simple conditional.

Statutes of Mortmain

The Statutes of Mortmain were two enactments, in 1279 and 1290, by Edward I of England aimed at preserving the kingdom's revenues by preventing land from passing into the possession of the Church. Possession of property by a corporation such as the church was known as mortmain. Mortmain literally means "the dead hand." In Medieval England, feudal estates generated taxes upon the inheritance or granting of the estate.

Lord of the manor title from the feudal system of manorialism

Lord of the manor is a title given to a person holding the lordship of a manor in the Anglo-Saxon system of manorialism which emanated from feudalism in English and Irish history. In modern England and Wales, it is recognised as a form of property, one of three elements of a manor that may exist separately or be combined, and may be held in moieties:

  1. the title ;
  2. the manorial, comprising the manor and/or its land; and
  3. the seignory, rights granted to the titular holder of the manor.
Socage Feudal duties and hence land tenure forms in the feudal system

Socage was one of the feudal duties and hence land tenure forms in the feudal system. A farmer, for example, held the land in exchange for a clearly defined, fixed payment to be made at specified intervals to his feudal lord, who in turn had his own feudal obligations, to the farmer and to the Crown. In theory this might involve supplying the lord with produce but most usually it meant a straightforward payment of cash, i.e., rent.

In feudal Anglo-Norman England and Ireland, a knight's fee was a unit measure of land deemed sufficient to support a knight. Of necessity, it would not only provide sustenance for himself, his family, esquires and servants, but also the means to furnish himself and his retinue with horses and armour to fight for his overlord in battle. It was effectively the size of a fee sufficient to support one knight in the ongoing performance of his feudal duties (knight-service). A knight's fee cannot be stated as a standard number of acres as the required acreage to produce a given crop or revenue would vary depending on many factors, including its location, the richness of its soil and the local climate, as well as the presence of other exploitable resources such as fish-weirs, quarries of rock or mines of minerals. If a knight's fee is deemed co-terminous with a manor, an average size would be between 1,000 and 5,000 acres, of which much in early times was still "waste", forest and uncultivated moorland.

Seisin denotes the legal possession of a feudal fiefdom or fee, that is to say an estate in land. It was used in the form of "the son and heir of X has obtained seisin of his inheritance", and thus is effectively a term concerned with conveyancing in the feudal era. The person holding such estate is said to be "seized of it", a phrase which commonly appears in inquisitions post mortem. The monarch alone "owned" all the land of England by his allodial right and all his subjects were merely his tenants under various contracts of feudal tenure.

In English law, seignory or seigniory, is the lordship (authority) remaining to a grantor after the grant of an estate in fee simple.

<i>Quia Emptores</i> English statute

Quia Emptores is a statute passed by the Parliament of England in 1290 during the reign of Edward I that prevented tenants from alienating their lands to others by subinfeudation, instead requiring all tenants who wished to alienate their land to do so by substitution. The statute, along with its companion statute Quo Warranto also passed in 1290, was intended to remedy land ownership disputes and consequent financial difficulties that had resulted from the decline of the traditional feudal system in England during the High Middle Ages.

Mesne lord

A mesne lord was a lord in the feudal system who had vassals who held land from him, but who was himself the vassal of a higher lord. Owing to Quia Emptores, the concept of a mesne lordship technically still exists today; the partitioning of the lord of the manor's estate among co-heirs creating the mesne lordships.

Knight-service was a form of feudal land tenure under which a knight held a fief or estate of land termed a knight's fee from an overlord conditional on him as tenant performing military service for his overlord.

Overlord Lord of a tenant

An overlord in the English feudal system was a lord of a manor who had subinfeudated a particular manor, estate or fee, to a tenant. The tenant thenceforth owed to the overlord one of a variety of services, usually military service or serjeanty, depending on which form of tenure the estate was held under. The highest overlord of all, or paramount lord, was the monarch, who due to his ancestor William the Conqueror's personal conquest of the Kingdom of England, owned by inheritance from him all the land in England under allodial title and had no superior overlord, "holding from God and his sword", although certain monarchs, notably King John (1199-1216) purported to grant the Kingdom of England to Pope Innocent III, who would thus have become overlord to English monarchs.

A feudal baron is a vassal holding a heritable fief called a barony, comprising a specific portion of land, granted by an overlord in return for allegiance and service. Following the end of European feudalism, feudal baronies have largely been superseded by baronies held as a rank of nobility, without any attachment to a fief. However, in Scotland, the feudal dignity of baron remains in existence, and may be bought and sold independently of the land to which it was formerly attached.

Feu was previously the most common form of land tenure in Scotland, as conveyancing in Scots law was dominated by feudalism until the Scottish Parliament passed the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000. The word is the Scots variant of fee. The English had in 1660 abolished these tenures, with An Act taking away the Court of Wards..., since 1948 known as the Tenures Abolition Act 1660.

Lord paramount

Paramount is the highest authority, or that being of the greatest importance. The word was first used as a term of feudal law, of the overlord, the lord paramount, who held his fief from no superior lord, and was thus opposed to a mesne lord, one who held fief from a superior. Those who held their fiefs from one who was not a lord paramount were given the correlative term "paravail",. The word was confused by English lawyers with "avail," help, assistance, profit, and applied to the actual working tenant of the land, the lowest tenant or occupier.

The history of English land law can be traced into Roman times, and through the Dark Ages under Saxon monarchs where, as for most of human history, land was the dominant source of personal wealth. English land law transformed from the industrial revolution and over the 19th century, as the political power of the landed aristocracy diminished, and modern legislation increasingly made land a social form of wealth, subject to extensive social regulation, such as for housing, national parks, and agriculture.

Even before the Norman Conquest, there was a strong tradition of landholding in Anglo-Saxon law. When William the Conqueror asserted sovereignty over England in 1066, he confiscated the property of the recalcitrant English landowners. Over the next dozen years, he granted land to his lords and to the dispossessed Englishmen, or affirmed their existing land holdings, in exchange for fealty and promises of military and other services. At the time of the Domesday Book, all land in England was held by someone, and from that time there has been no allodial land in England. In order to legitimise the notion of the Crown's paramount lordship, a legal fiction - that all land titles were held by the King's subjects as a result of a royal grant - was adopted.

In English and Irish law, a fee farm grant is a hybrid type of land ownership typical in cities and towns. The word fee is derived from fief, meaning a feudal landholding, and a fee farm grant is similar to a fee simple in the sense that it gives the grantee the right to hold a freehold estate, the only difference being the payment of an annual rent and covenants, thus putting both parties in a landlord-tenant relationship.

Feudalism in England

Feudalism as practised in the Kingdom of England was a state of human society which was formally structured and stratified on the basis of land tenure and the varieties thereof. Society was thus ordered around relationships derived from the holding of land, which landholdings are termed "fiefdoms, traders, fiefs, or fees".

Manor Estate in land to which is incident the right to hold a manorial court

In English law, a manor is an estate in land which includes the right to hold a manorial court. The Lord of the manor, through the manorial court, has jurisdiction over those who live within the lands of the manor. The proper unit of tenure under the feudal system is the fee, on which the manor became established through the process of time, akin to the modern establishment of a "business" upon a freehold site. The manor is nevertheless often described as the basic feudal unit of tenure and is historically connected with the territorial divisions of the march, county, hundred, parish and township.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Subinfeudation". Encyclopædia Britannica . 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1062.
  2. Sir William Searle. "An historical introduction to the land law page 105 to 107". Google Books Preview.
  3. Explanatory notes to Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000
  4. Despotism and capitalism: a historical comparison of Europe and Indonesia by Tilman Schiel (1985). Retrieved 8 Feb 2014.