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The homage (lat. Homagium, see. Tribute ) was in the medieval feudal system ritualised promise of fidelity. Nowadays, homage is still used when there is a change of throne in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and in the Principality of Liechtenstein.


The feudal man was obliged to assure his liege lord of allegiance and loyalty in an official act. In return , the feudal lord assured the vassal of allegiance and, in addition, protection and protection of his rights. The homage is counted among the promissory oaths (promise oaths).

Homage was primarily given when a new fief was awarded or when, usually by inheritance, either a new feudal lord or feudal taker was appointed as his successor. In this case, the pledge was renewed. According to regional legal traditions, more frequent homage could also be required, about once a year. In addition, political events also served as an occasion for renewed homage, for example large imperial meetings, the end of an uprising against the ruler, the official appointment of a successor to his inheritance claims, the departure or return from a crusade . Even the landlords could demand homage from their subjects .

The modern homage in the Netherlands and Liechtenstein is the recognition of the new head of state by parliament.

The national homage of the late medieval and early modern classes

When, in the late Middle Ages, the estates had developed as stable corporations of politically justified residents, homage to the country became a special form of homage. In many countries the rule of a new prince was only legitimate if he had received the homage of the estates. In the process, fixed forms emerged for the course of the act of homage, to which the sovereign and the estates had to adhere if the mutual obligations entered into through the homage were to be legally binding.

As a rule, the homage had to take place on the territory of the country concerned. (So ​​the Habsburg rulers had to travel to their many countries when they came to power in order to receive homage from the estates.) The estates were obliged to appear at the homage. Failure to do so meant an act of infidelity to the sovereign. The prince was received at the border by a delegation from the nobility and escorted to the place of homage. In front of the walls he was received by the representatives of the cities and the clergy and led into the city or to the castle.

Depending on the country-specific tradition, a common worship service took place before or after the actual act of homage, during which a special homage sermon was held for a suitable passage from the Bible.

The various classes paid homage to the prince one after the other. First, the prelates took their oath of loyalty (mostly in Latin), kneeling before the sovereign. The nobility paid homage standing, which made it clear that, in contrast to the clergy, they were not among the prince's wards, but the nobles were free, defensive men. Finally, the mayors and councilors of the cities took the oath of homage on behalf of the citizens. If available, also had free farmers to pay homage to the rulers separately. In some countries, the people of the place of homage had to perform their own act of homage on behalf of all local residents (for example, the people of Bautzen at the Upper Lusatian homage ).

In return for their oath of loyalty, the estates could expect confirmation of their privileges , rights and freedoms. It was often controversial between the prince and the estates whether this should happen before or after the homage. Because if the estates had already sworn allegiance to the sovereign and the sovereign did not fully confirm the privileges, according to the medieval legal conception, the estates would still be wrong if they resisted the prince . Therefore, before the homage, complicated negotiations often took place between the prince's court and the estates, during which an attempt was made to agree on the specific procedure.

After the homage, a state parliament was often held which granted the prince a special tax and at which the estates could submit their complaints (gravamina) to the sovereign .

Hereditary homage

Hereditary homage to Friedrich Wilhelm (Brandenburg) in Königsberg (1663)

Synonymously with the term national homage was - and is still in the Principality of Liechtenstein - the term Hereditary Homage used. The focus was on the continuity of the ruling dynasty. The hereditary homage usually took place shortly after the new prince had acceded to the throne, but not infrequently also during the lifetime of the predecessor. In this way, the prince and the estates designated the successor and ensured the transfer of power to the heir to the throne.

Tributes in modern states

In the Kingdom of the Netherlands , in accordance with Article 32 of the Constitution, the new king swears an oath as soon as possible after taking office in a solemn session of the united two chambers of parliament ( Staten-General ) in Amsterdam, in which he is loyalty to the constitution and the conscientious exercise of his Office swears. Then the chairman of the assembly makes a declaration on behalf of the peoples of the kingdom, according to which they "receive and pay homage to the new king" ("Wij ontvangen en pay homage ... U als Koning") and guarantee him their loyalty ("Uw onschendbaarheid en de right van Uw Koningschap zullen handhaven ”). This declaration is confirmed by every single member of the government and parliament by means of an oath (“God Almighty help me so truly”) or by means of a pledge (“We vow”). The ceremony described is called inhuldiging in Dutch .

In the Principality of Liechtenstein , according to Article 51 of the Constitution, in the event of a change of the throne, the state parliament must be convened for an extraordinary session within 30 days. At this he receives the written declaration of the successor to the government that as Prince he will "rule the Principality of Liechtenstein in accordance with the constitution and the other laws, maintain its integrity and observe the sovereign rights inseparably and in the same way"; then the state parliament pays hereditary homage in which it vows to recognize the new sovereign. The fact that the new prince submits legality insurance in the form of a written document and not personally in the state parliament is due to the fact that at the time the constitution was passed - in 1921 - he was still living in Vienna and did not move his permanent residence to Vaduz until 1938.


  • Which the rebellious Saltpurgian Vnnderthanen, After being brought to Swaben again to be obedient to the Sy by the standing of the Pundt, And given themselves in the grace and vngnad of the Pundt, have paid new homage . Augsburg 1526. ( pamphlet )
  • Historical report of the solennen Actu of the general hereditary homage, which ... Mr. Friderich Wilhelm, kings in Prussia ... Of all the estates, vassals and subjects of the Szczecin and pre-Pomeranian lands on the other side of the Pehne, The X. Augusti Anno M DCC XXI. has been done. Szczecin 1721.


  • Gerhard Baaken : royalty, castles and royalty free. King's ride and homage in Ottonian-Salian times (= lectures and research. Constance working group for medieval history. Vol. 6). 2nd, unchanged edition. Sigmaringen, Thorbecke 1981, ISBN 3-7995-6606-6 .
  • André Holenstein: The homage of the subjects. Legal culture and rule of rule (800–1800) (= sources and research on agricultural history. Vol. 36). Fischer, Stuttgart 1991. ISBN 3-437-50338-3 .
  • Franz Klein-Bruckschwaiger: Hereditary homage . In: Concise dictionary on German legal history. Vol. I. Berlin 1971, Col. 965-966.
  • Theo Kölzer : Homage . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 5, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1991, ISBN 3-7608-8905-0 , Sp. 184.

Web links

Wiktionary: Homage  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Homage  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Wet beëdiging en inhuldiging van de Koning.