Definitions

fealty

fealty

[fee-uhl-tee]
fealty: see feudalism.
An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas (faithfulness), is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, thus binding the oath-taker before God.

In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between two people, the obliged person (vassal) and a person of rank (lord). This was done as part of a formal commendation ceremony to create a feudal relationship.

Fealty and homage are a key element of feudalism. Under the feudal system, the smallest unit of land a fief could own was called a fea or fee, giving rise to the term freehold.

The term is also used by English-speakers to refer to similar oaths of allegiance in other feudal cultures, as with medieval Japan.

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