Is it true that a vassal - a servant?

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Translated from the Medieval Latin word vassus means "servant."But does this mean that a vassal - is the last person in the hierarchy of power?Not at all.The medieval feudal law, where the concept was born, does not think a simple vassal serf serf or free cultivators on the land lord.This - the knightly nobility, the aristocracy, which itself was in the possession of the land and people.But it was a vassal of the overlords, their seniors.Fairly widespread myth of the direct hierarchy of power in the feudal society.Let's see who is who and to what extent submitted in medieval Europe.

Proskhozhdenie vassals

can say that the feudal system of relations develop in two ways.On the lands of the Roman Empire to the weakening of central power in the political arena moved the main managers - the provincial governors.They are no longer subject to metropolitan and proclaimed himself suzerain main land.To control a vast territory and collect taxes, these lords appointed their own people - parantellu (distant relatives) and customers (free warrior who patronized the lord).The land in this transition in possession.In areas dominated by German law, vassalage was formed on a conquest.Captured land officially belonged to the lord.He complained of the territory of his warriors, provided that the latter will bear the military service in his army, and to obey him.Thus, a vassal - is a "man of the sword", belonging to the knightly class.


Now consider the system of relations that bound overlord with his subordinates.Since the ownership of the lands and people handed down, and the lords and vassals were considered the aristocracy.Patron gave not only part of its territory, but also the opportunity to judge, including the supreme.Dependence on the suzerain in the lands of Roman law was more apparent than in the north of Western Europe, dominated by German customs.But everywhere the ritual act of bringing homage - homage.We have a sufficient number of written evidence, to get an idea how this rite was held.Overlord sat on a high chair and a vassal stood before him bareheaded, kneeling one knee.He swore to be faithful, be the first call "horse, crowded and oruzhno" keep lord, and even to give money for the ransom, if he gets captured.Overlord graciously stretched his arms, put his hands where the vassal.This ritual act ended with the kiss of peace.In some lands homage consisted whenever entering the offspring of knighthood vassal class.But here and there were enough "foie" - documented homage ancestor species.


If the meaning of "vassal" more or less clear, then with his possessions is not so simple.During the homage the lord passed to his subordinate "for faithful service" certain benefice.It could be not only a land of inhabiting her husbandmen.The benefice also includes the right to administer haut justice - supreme justice.Sometimes feudal vassal was to make a profit.For example, it could be right to charge for passage across the bridge, or the right to organize the fair on his lands.Some vassals even minted its own coins!Because of the many opportunities to draw income from the benefices they had different names: the feudal fief, fief.

vertical power

a mistake to think that the lord gave land to his subordinate.He just passed it in perpetuity.Thus, land ownership was nominally a vassal overlord property.However, the fief passed from father to son by inheritance, and the peasants who inhabited the county, considered themselves subjects of the smaller feudal lord.Do not forget that a hierarchical system in the Middle Ages was very extensive.The king was the nominal ruler, but dukes, counts and princes also took homage from their vassals - viscounts, marquises and barons.This intricate system of feudal relations led to the fact that some vassals brought an oath of allegiance to various overlords, and the lower level of subordination does not obey the higher, because it does not bring them homage.

transition to absolute monarchy

vassalage itself originated in Western Europe in the early Middle Ages and finally established in the Kingdom of the Franks in VIII-IX centuries.Louis the Pious by his decree only confirmed hierarchical feudal relationship.Initially, this system worked well.But later feudal fragmentation has led to the fact that the royal authority weakened.Chief overlord became dependent on their vassals.Royal Domain has become one of equal provinces.To consolidate his power, supreme suzerains through wars and destruction of the castle rebellious aristocracy introduced the practice, known as - immediatizatsiya.Beginning with Philip II, the sovereigns of France fought to ensure that all the aristocracy - knights from small to large landowners - swore allegiance to the king.Otherwise vassal possession of confiscated seneschal and managed - by the authorized officer, and became rebellious noble faiditom (dispossession).

countries vassals

If state dispute militarily conquering another country, conquered territory is not always annexed.The feudal system of relationships implies that a vassal - an independent principality or kingdom recognized the supremacy of the stronger kingdom.Danila Galitsky governor committed in the middle of the XIII century in homage to the Golden Horde, and in 1478 the Crimean Khanate became a vassal of the Ottoman Empire.