Feudal system , also feudal or benefit system , lat. Feudum , Feodum or Beneficium means the comprehensive hereditary right to use a foreign thing. It is based on a grant by the owner, which at the same time creates a relationship of mutual loyalty between the owner and the person entitled. The strange thing itself, usually a piece of land or a complex of land, Lehn (will fief ) called. The legal principles about feudalism form feudal law in the objective sense.
Linguistically, the term fiefdom is related to lending , meaning something like "borrowed property", while the word feudum, according to some etymologists, comes from the Latin fides ("loyalty"), but more correctly from Old High German feo ("cattle" or more generally " Good ") is to be derived.
The German word for benefit is Lehen, ahd. Lêhan, mhd. Lehen ; since the 11th century one also said feodum or feudum . This word came from an older medieval Latin feum , actually feu-to indicate its trunk, the Provencal feu, ital. Fio, Old French. fieu, Latinized fium = fiefdom, loan interest, from Gothic . Faihu = fortune, possessions, ahd. fihu, feho, feo, nhd. cattle .
A fiefdom was understood to be a good that the owner left to someone else to use. Originally it was mainly a piece of land (with buildings), later also a political office or a sovereign right (to fish, hunt, collect taxes). The owner ( feudal lord ) gave this fiefdom under the condition of mutual loyalty to the mostly hereditary property of the entitled person, who thereby became a feudal man and earned his living from the fief. As a rule, leaning was subject to the reservation that the owner fell victim to it.
The fiefdom contained an extended right to use the foreign property, which at the same time established a relationship of mutual loyalty between the feudal lord and the feudal lord. The word beneficium denoted not only the goods associated with the fief, but also the legal relationship associated with it. The fief did not change the property , only the possession of the fiefdom . The feudal lord remained the owner. The feudal man became the new owner and thus a direct beneficiary and also responsible for administration and maintenance. The loyalty required of the feudal man should be expressed in particular in military and political support. The obligation of the feudal man to serve in the war ( army succession ) remained of particular importance until the introduction of standing armies in the 15th century.
The feudal lord ( fiefdom , lat. Dominus feudi, senior ) was usually the sovereign or the supreme monarch. Lehnsmann ( and borrower , vassals or receivers ) was whose Vasall (lat. Vassus or vasallus "servant"). Both swore the feudal oath to one another . In the course of time, the vassal's entitlement came so much closer to actual property that it was referred to as usable property (dominium utile) and the right of the actual owner as superior property (dominium directum) .
In contrast to the fiefdom, the property free from the fiefdom and certain alienation restrictions, allod or allodium, which roughly corresponded to today's property. The transition from feudal state to free bourgeois property with extensive power of disposal of the owner is represented in the 19th century by the allodified fiefdom, a fiefdom in which the superior ownership of the liege lord - mostly against payment of compensation such as allodification rents - ceased to exist , but from the vassal as a fief with a fixed agnatic succession - similar to a family entailment - could not be sold and could only be passed on to male descendants.
Depending on the regional tradition and fiefdom (secular or ecclesiastical / monastic), numerous different forms of fiefdom developed. The most well-known are:
- After fiefdom: Term for a received fiefdom that the recipient (aftervasall) has given in whole or in part to another subordinate fiefdom recipient, the afterlehner
- Altar loan : An early form of medieval foundation designed to allocate the annual income from property to a specific clergyman
- Bag loan : original knight's loan that was later given to farmers
- Burglehn : a fiefdom as a reward for serving as a Burgmann
- Hereditary fief : The heirs of the feudal taker occur automatically in the rights and obligations; Fiefs become hereditary for the first time when they are awarded a letter of inheritance law from the fiefdom
- Fahn- or Fahn s loan: a fief to a secular Prince, in which flags the fief and the obligation to Heerbann symbolize
- Fall or Schupflehen: the fiefdom expires with the death of the fiefdom taker, the heirs are figuratively pulled out of the contract (Upper German / Alemannic for "push", "push")
- Free pen : The fief can be terminated within a year
- Handhen: a fief given for a limited time or for the life of the fiefdom (originally a fiefdom in which the vassal's handshake took the place of the formal oath)
- Monastery or collegiate fief: feudal lord was a monastery
- Kunkel- or Weiberlehen (feudum femininum): Fief taker is a woman
- Man or man s fief: the man is the only fief recipient
- Ligic feudal system : Prevention of multiple vassals through stronger ties between the feudal lord and the feudal lord
- Velvet fief: a fief that is due to several people at the same time as a result of being mortgaged for the same object
- Schildlehen: comparable to Fahnenlehen, but the fief taker is in the rank of count or below
- Scepter Loan : Loan to a spiritual prince
The historical development of feudalism
The feudal system probably developed after the model of the Roman clientele system from the lending with church goods ( benefit system ) and the Germanic allegiance system ( vassalage ). For this, the liege recipient had to render personal service to the liege lord. These included B. holding the stirrup, accompanying them on festive occasions and serving in the court office , for example as cupbearer at the banquet table. Both committed to mutual loyalty : the feudal lord to “protection and protection”, the feudal recipient to “advice and help”. Furthermore, feudal lord and vassal were obliged to respect one another, d. H. Even the feudal lord was not allowed to hit or humiliate his beneficiary, or to assault his wife or daughter. The development of feudalism is, however, controversial in recent research; whether it was developed in the early Middle Ages is by no means certain.
An important element of the development of this form of rule based on natural economics was the development of cavalry armies with partially (with the Sassanids and Romans) or completely decentralized (with the East Germanic tribes, most recently with the Franks) procurement of weapons and fodder ( expansion ).
The supreme liege lord was the respective supreme sovereign, king or duke , who gave fiefs to his princes . These, in turn, could give fiefs to other nobles who wanted to be feuded by them and who were often under the liege-giver in the aristocratic hierarchy.
The feudal system was essentially based on two components:
- Thing element
- The vassal had no actual or full ownership, but only a derived right of ownership and use of the fief, which was subject to relapse under certain conditions, but was in rem. For this he was regularly associated with the liege lord in certain services.
- Personal element
- The feudal lord and the vassal established a mutual, preferably warlike, loyalty relationship.
The visible expression of the vassal's act of devotion was the placing of his hands in those of the master (handshake - comparable to today's handshake , but the handshake expresses a hierarchical relationship).
The Roman clientele
In the late antiquity developed from the Roman patronage (clientele ratio) and from the gentile relations of the peoples migration time (Germanic kingdoms on Roman soil) the relationship between the ruling people and subordinates on a prevailing consensus that was common and accepted.
In Roman culture it was common for a patron (a wealthy Roman citizen ) to automatically keep his freed slaves in a relationship of dependency ( clientele relationship ). This said that the clientele had to accompany their patron, if he wished to accompany and protect him in the event of war, to accompany him as a loud party on court days , as well as, if he was in public life , to serve him as his assistant and for representation purposes had to accompany them in public.
Against this, the patron had to guarantee his clients legal and actual support in all life relationships. A Roman citizen, non-Roman and even entire peoples in the Roman Empire could enter into a clientele relationship.
In late antiquity at the end of the Roman Empire, this relationship increasingly shifted to rural areas, because the Roman nomenclature saw their huge latifundia as their refuge and at the same time as their most important economic pillar, on which they even had their own jurisdiction and fortified prisons . At that time, the clientele were mostly tied to the patron with the allocation of land.
Holy Roman Empire
When the feudal system came into being is a matter of dispute in research. For a long time it was taken for granted in historical studies that it originated in the Carolingian era, i.e. in the 8th and 9th centuries. Since the broad study by the British medievalist Susan Reynolds in 1994, however, it has been increasingly assumed that one can only assume that there will be a developed feudal system in Western and Central Europe in the 11th century. The German historian Steffen Patzold considers the term to be fundamentally misleading. In his opinion, there were a multitude of very different lending, leasing, interest and buying transactions that were not necessarily linked to client and dependency relationships. The only thing that these relationships had in common was their assessment according to feudal law, as Northern Italian legal scholars began to formulate in the 11th century. The hierarchical systematics and social dependency that the term suggests only developed over time.
Various legal institutes that already existed at the time of the Merovingians came together in the fiefdom . These institutions were:
- The antrustiones - that was the immediate retinue of the king, they were characterized by the fact that they had to be paid a multiple of the usual wergeld .
- The vassals - free people who could no longer take care of themselves, could get into the hands of someone more powerful , received protection and maintenance in return and, in return, were obliged to be loyalty and service. They did not lose their status as free as a result of the commendation, the royal court continued to be responsible for them. The commendation happened through the so-called gangway, that is, the future vassal put his folded hands in those of his master, which the latter clasped. This gesture makes the relationship between the two very clear.
- The beneficium (beneficium) - namely the church voluntarily gave part of its property to others in exchange for a certain interest or service or just for a small bogus interest from charity ( beneficium ) for usufruct.
The feudal system emerged only from the connection of these institutions and especially when more and more gentlemen with high social positions came out. The handgang, which together with the feudal oath was later referred to as homage or fief, remained the decisive legal act until the 12th century. Only with the spread of the documentary system was the handgang replaced by the feudal oath, which is much easier to put down in writing.
Since the services of the feudal man included military service in particular, the feudal system in the Franconian monarchy was for centuries the basis of the army constitution and the social organization in the later Holy Roman Empire ( union state ). Not only did the king take on vassals, but this procedure was soon imitated by secular and spiritual rulers. Gradually, the principle of the inheritance of fiefs and the admissibility of subcontracting in after-fiefs developed under customary law . The latter were legally declared hereditary in 1037 by the Salian Emperor Conrad II with the Constitutio de feudis . In this way, fiefs became the basis of life for entire generations of a family and land ownership was both consolidated and legalized. In the 12th century, all duchies and counties had already been given as fiefs.
The sources of the German feudal law are also the feudal law books of the Sachsenspiegel (around 1220) and the Schwabenspiegel (around 1275), the so-called. Small imperial law , the Görlitz feudal law and above all the Lombard feudal law, contained in the Libri Feudorum , one of the laws of the emperors Konrad II., Lothar III. and Friedrich Barbarossa and from the practice of the Curia of Milan by the jurisprudence in Pavia and Milan of 1166 compilation . Since the middle of the 18th century there were also numerous particular laws such as the Electoral Saxon Lehnsmandat of 1764, the Baierische Lehnsedict of July 7, 1808 or the regulations on feudal rights in general land law for Prussia.
In England, after the Civil War (1642 to 1649), the monarchy and, by an express decree of Charles II of 1660, the feudal union was abolished. With resolutions of the National Assembly of August 4 and 5, 1789, in the course of the French Revolution, the aristocratic privileges were abolished, in particular the burdens rooted only in feudal law, waived without compensation, while for others, which were based on a grant and were of private law origin, the replacement was ordered.
In Germany, the dissolution of the Lehnsverband was a long process; in legal form it took place among other things in the Rhine federation act , in the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss and in the Paulskirche constitution of 1849. In 1806 the feudal powers passed from the emperor to the new sovereigns. The sovereigns became vassals of the empire and became independent bearers of full state power in their territories. A repeal of feudal rights did not succeed with the German Revolution of 1848/1849 . One of the last fiefdoms was awarded in 1835, when Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Schlitz, known as von Görtz, had the wells of Salzschlirf and then began to dig them again.
When it came into force on January 1, 1900, Art. 59 of the Introductory Act to the Civil Code (EGBGB) left the state legal provisions on family affidavits and fiefdoms, including all-modified fiefs, as well as on patrimonial estates unaffected. It was only with the proclamation of the Republic in 1918 that efforts were made in the countries of the newly founded Weimar Republic to repeal existing family and family property, including entails, on the basis of Article 109 of the Weimar Constitution . According to the Reich Hereditary Farm Act of September 29, 1939, the farmers were owners of their hereditary farms, but could not freely bequeath them. Rather, the hereditary farm was passed on by law to the heirs. The male clan preferred the rigid arrangement .
With Art. 1 of the Control Council Act No. 45 of February 25, 1947, the Reichserbhofgesetz was repealed, as was Art. 59 EGBGB, insofar as it did not subject property as a special type of property to general laws. Fideikommisse and similar tied property, leasehold property, feudal farm property, rent and settlement property, became free property subject to general laws.
In property and inheritance rights are guaranteed.the Basic Law of 1949,
In Scotland, the rights and obligations of feudal lords and tenants (including annual payments) were not abolished until the Abolition of Feudal Tenure Act in 2000.
Essential principles of feudal law in the Holy Roman Empire
The essential prerequisites (essentialia feudi) included:
- a lean object,
- the active tenure of the lord and the passive tenure of the vassal and
- the granting of the most extensive rights of use (beneficial ownership) as well as the establishment of the mutual relationship of fidelity (fidelitas feudalis).
Originally only real estate was considered leasable, especially buildings. Generally, the feudal man was provided with land or free houses in return for his services . It also happened that he served at the Lord's court and was fed there. Usually these so-called servi non cassati received a fief as soon as one became available.
Later, the concept of objective feudal ability was expanded to include all objects and rights that granted the possibility of continued use, in particular state sovereignty rights ( shelf income ) and immaterial things such as offices. These included not only the arch offices of the empire (connected with the electoral dignity), the hereditary offices at the royal court as well as the numerous court offices at the princes, counts and bishops, but also special tasks - in this way those of the Thurn and Taxis houses were carried out and couple offered postal services converted into postal loans , for the Imperial Reichspost even combined with a seat in the Perpetual Reichstag .
Regular cash payments from the crown treasure or profits from certain customs duties could also be awarded as fiefs, for example as a reward or consideration for military service, political support or other merits, but also, for example, the tithe, which had a tithe right as its object, the hunting lean, the coat of arms lean or the court loan.
The territories of the empire immediately under the empire (feuda regalia) were also given to the electors, princes and counts by the king in a solemn ceremony by handing over their coat of arms flags as symbols of the obligation to military success , therefore as so-called flag fiefs or as so-called scepter fiefs to the Archbishops and Prince-Bishops.
The feudal capacity of the feudal lord (active feudal capacity) presupposed the authority to dispose with regard to the object and the ability to acquire those rights and to enter into those obligations which are justified by the feudal relationship. In principle, only the sovereigns were actively refractory. Passive feudal ability presupposed the ability to work necessary for the object of the feudal livelihood as well as the ability to meet the personal obligations arising from the feudal loyalty. Therefore, those who lacked the ability to work, as well as those who were dishonorable, were absolutely disrespectful. Those persons who merely lacked the ability to perform the feudal services that the feudal lord could do without, such as B. Frail, women or immaturity, in the case of knight or helmet fiefs, also all persons who are not knightly.
The king's country or offices to crown vassals , they pass it on to sub-vassals and those for processing to unfree peasants . In the so-called feudal pyramid, there was no feudal relationship between peasants and sub-vassals.
The social hierarchy of feudal pyramid corresponded to the arising during the Middle Ages in Germany heerschild order , which in the 13th century under the law book of Sachsenspiegel divided as follows:
- Spiritual princes
- Secular princes
- Counts and barons
- Ministeriale (here: upper class of unfree servants)
- Men of the Ministerials
- Knight-born men (middle and lower class of the unfree servants, they could only accept fiefs, none granted)
At first only free people were eligible for feudalism, who were capable of weapons and in full possession of their honor. After magistrate rights, namely the county and the ducal dignity , could also be given as fiefs, a hereditary intermediate power developed between the crown and the mass of the population. Up until the 13th century, the so-called feudal aristocracy formed the upper class of society, which was variously graduated socially and economically ( princes , counts, so-called noble free ). Later, unfree , smaller ministerial fiefs (so-called inward seigen ) were also able to carry them, which in large numbers then formed the so-called knighthood . These newer fiefdoms are not to be confused with the older service property of the Ministeriales, which was made available under a different law.
The feudal service consisted mainly of military service (military service) and court travel (the presence of vassals at the court to provide advice and assistance). The state and imperial diets later developed from the court journey . The feudal property was only given to the vassal for use , later the vassal also became sub- owner , but the feudal lord still held the rights to this office. Finally, the inheritance of the feudal estate developed later, but the feudal lord still remained the owner.
A fiefdom was usually established through an investiture (constitutio feudi, infeudatio). In Franconian times, this was done through the so-called walkway, in the center: the feudal man placed his folded hands in the hands of the liege lord, which he clasped. With this he symbolically placed himself under the protection of his new master. Since the end of the 9th century, this act has been supplemented by a feudal oath, which was usually made on a relic. The oath should not only create the bond between the partners, but emphasize that the feudal man did not lose his status as a suitor, because only free people could bind themselves by oath. The loans issued were recorded in the loan book .
In the 11th century, the investiture included homage (also fief or homagium , today homage ) from the manual and a declaration of intent by the feudal man. A declaration of intent from the Lord could also be made, but was often omitted. This was followed by the feudal oath and sometimes a kiss. Because in the Middle Ages a visible sign belonged to a legal act, an object was symbolically handed over, this could be a staff or a flag (so-called "flag leaning", for secular princes), the spiritual imperial princes were enfeoffed by the king by handing over a scepter (“Scepter Loan”). With increasing writing, a certificate was also issued about the loan, which over time listed the goods that the liege received in more detail.
The protocol to be recorded about the investiture by the court of men ( feudal court , feudal court , feudal curia ) and later by the feudal chancellery is called the feudal protocol . The vassal can request the issuance of a feudal letter , that is, a document in which the investiture and its conditions are attested. The instrument, by which the vassals is to certify the previous history lending provisionally means feudal or Rekognitionsschein , the one through which the lord of the Vasall the lending and allegiance to certify Lehnsrevers (counter letter). A feudal inventory, i.e. a description of the feudal property with its pertinence, signed by the feudal lord or From the vassal (feudal dinumerament), either of the two can demand from the other. Loan contract ( contractus feudalis ) is the name of the contract through which a loan is agreed and prepared.
In the late Middle Ages, a fee was charged for the lending, which was often set at the annual yield of the feudal property.
The feudal property (benefice) that the feudal man received could be the property of the feudal lord or another lord. Sometimes the feudal man also sold or gave his property to the master and then received it back as a fief ( oblatio feudi ). This so-called feudal mandate consisted in the fact that someone, in order to place himself under the protection of a more powerful liege lord, transferred his allod to his property in order to receive it back as a feud. Usually this was done in the hope that the feudal lord would be better able to defend the country in a dispute in the field or in court. He bought or accepted the gift because he associated it with the intention or hope, e.g. B. to connect previously unconnected fiefdoms and thereby his area of influence z. B. to increase the jurisdiction or the appointment of pastors.
Since the 11th century, the duties of the vassal have mostly been described as auxilium et consilium (help and advice). Aid mostly refers to the military service that the vassal had to perform. This could be unlimited, i.e. H. the vassal had to support the lord in every war, or he was limited in time, space and according to the number of soldiers raised. With the advent of the mercenary armies , the number of vassals became less important and their service was increasingly transformed into services at court and in administration. Consilium meant above all the duty to appear on court days . Vassals whose feudal lord was not the king attended the council meetings of the feudal lord. In addition, they had to speak in the name of the feudal lord over his subjects justice.
The vassal could also be obliged to make monetary payments; In England in particular, war benefits were converted into cash benefits ("adäriert") and the English king used the money to finance mercenaries. Cash payments were also required in other cases, for example to pay a ransom for the captive master, for the eldest son's accolade, for the dowry of the eldest daughter and for the trip to the Holy Land.
The lord was further from the vassal in case of loss of the fief the Lehnserneuerung (renovatio investiturae) demand both at changes in the person of the lord (changes in the dominant hand, Mr. case , main case, Throne case) as well as changes in the person of vassals (change in the serving hand Lehnsfall, vassals case ( man case ), by-case). A vassal as successor had to submit a written request ( feudal presumption ) within a year and day (1 year 6 weeks 3 days) and ask for the investiture to be renewed; however, this period could be extended upon request by order of the feudal lord (feudal indult).
Under particular law , the vassal was, apart from the fees for resuscitation (writing schilling, feudal tax), sometimes also obliged to pay a special fee ( laudemium , purchase of wine , feudal money, feudal goods, hand wages). Finally, the feudal lord could withdraw the fief from a felony of the vassal by means of the so-called privation suit, prevent deterioration of the property if necessary through judicial measures and assert the right of property against third unauthorized owners at any time.
The duties of the Lord, on the other hand, were less precisely defined, they were largely fulfilled with the handover of the fief. The vassal also had the right to loyalty to the liege lord (feudal protection), and a breach of this would result in the loss of his superior property for the liege lord. The vassal had usable property in the feudal property. The lord also had to represent his vassal in court.
Originally, a feudal bond was a lifelong loyalty relationship that only death could end. It was also inconceivable that several gentlemen were given feudal service. In fact, however, in the late 11th / early 12th century, multiple vassals emerged , which considerably relaxed the fiefdom's duty of loyalty. In addition, feudal property could gradually be acquired as personal property (allodialization). The accompanying possibility of inheriting a fiefdom also reduced the feudal lord's ability to intervene and relaxed the feudal lord's personal duty of loyalty. If the feudal lord violated his duty of protection and care, the feudal taker could, under certain circumstances, give up his loyalty ( diffidatio ). Over time, the fiefdom increased in importance while the duty of loyalty faded into the background, and in the end a fiefdom was simply an estate for which the heir had to perform a certain ceremony.
As reversion of Lehens ( Lehnseröffnung, aperture Apertura Feudi ) was termination by the lehnsrechtliche Investitur referred justified vasallitischen rights Lehen, then that absorbed. usable property ( dominium utile ) of the vassal combined with the superior property ( dominium directum ) of the liege lord in the hands of the latter.
Today's families, house and place names
A reverberation of the former feudal system can be found in family names such as Lehner , Lechner or Lehmann as well as in a large number of house and place names that still have the term “fiefdom” in their names, for example Lehen (Freiburg im Breisgau) , Lehen (Stuttgart) or Fiefdom (municipality of Oberndorf) .
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