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In
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
and
early modern Europe Early modern Europe, also referred to as the post-medieval period, is the period of European history The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past ...
, the term ''tenant-in-chief'' (or ''vassal-in-chief'') denoted a person who held his lands under various forms of
feudal land tenure Under the English feudal system several different forms of land tenure existed, each effectively a contract with differing rights and duties attached thereto. Such tenures could be either free-hold, signifying that they were hereditable or perpet ...
directly from the king or territorial prince to whom he did homage, as opposed to holding them from another nobleman or senior member of the
clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's s and practices. Some of the terms used for ind ...
.Bloch ''Feudal Society Volume 2'' p. 333Coredon ''Dictionary of Medieval Terms & Phrases'' p. 272 The tenure was one which denoted great honour, but also carried heavy responsibilities. The tenants-in-chief were originally responsible for providing knights and soldiers for the king's feudal army.Bracton, who indiscriminately called tenants-in-chief "barons" stated: "sunt et alii potentes sub rege qui barones dicuntur, hoc est robur belli" ("there are other magnates under the king, who are called barons, that is the hardwood of war"), quoted in Sanders, I.J., ''Feudal Military Service in England'', Oxford, 1956, p.3; "Bracton's definition of the ''baro''" (plur ''barones'') "proves that tenants of this class were considered to be the military backbone of the realm" (Sanders, p.3)


Terminology

The
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
term was ''tenens in
capiteIn old English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written ...
''.Coredon ''Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases'' p. 161 Other names for tenant-in-chief were "
captal Captal (Lat. capitalis, first, chief ), was a medieval feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was a combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centu ...
" or
baron Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of th ...

baron
, although the latter term evolved in meaning. For example, the term "baron" was used in the ''
Cartae Baronum King John signs '' Magna Carta'' at Runnymede in 1215, surrounded by his baronage">Runnymede.html" ;"title="Magna Carta'' at Runnymede">Magna Carta'' at Runnymede in 1215, surrounded by his baronage. Illustration from ''Cassell's History of Engla ...
'' of 1166, a return of all tenants-in-chief in England. At that time the term was understood to mean the "king's barons", or "king's men", because baron could still have a broader meaning. Originally, for example in
Domesday Book Domesday Book () – the Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent ...
(1086), there was a small number of powerful English tenants-in-chief under the Norman king who were all magnates directly associated with the king. Later, as laid-out by I. J. Sanders, the old tenancies-in-chief of England from the time of the Norman king,
King Henry I of England Henry I (c. 1068 – 1 December 1135), also known as Henry Beauclerc, was King of England from 1100 to his death in 1135. He was the fourth son of William the Conqueror and was educated in Latin and the Liberal arts education, liberal arts. ...

King Henry I of England
, came to have a legally distinct form of feudal land holding, the so-called tenure ''per baroniam''. The term "baron" thus came to be used mainly for these " feudal barons", which comprised a group that over-lapped with the tenancies-in-chief, but was not identical.


History

In most countries allodial property could be held by laypeople or the
Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. ...

Christian Church
. However, in the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
after the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French ...
, the king became in law the only holder of land by allodial title. Thus all the lands in England became the property of the Crown.Ganshof ''Feudalism'' p. 130Ganshof ''Feudalism'' p. 165 A tenure by
frankalmoin Frank almoin, frankalmoign or frankalmoigne () was one of the feudal land tenure Under the English feudal system several different forms of land tenure existed, each effectively a contract with differing rights and duties attached thereto. Such ...
, which in other countries was regarded as a form of privileged allodial holding, was in England regarded as a feudal tenement. Every land-holding was deemed by feudal custom to be no more than an
estate in land An estate in land is an interest in real property that is or may become possessory. It is a type of personal property and encompasses land ownership, rental and other arrangements that give people the right to use land. This is distinct from sovere ...
, whether directly or indirectly held of the king. Absolute title in land could only be held by the king himself, the most anyone else could hold was a right over land, not a title in land ''per se''. In England, a tenant-in-chief could enfief, or grant fiefs carved out of his own holding, to his own followers. The creation of subfiefs under a tenant-in-chief or other fief-holder was known as
subinfeudation In English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written ...
.Cosman ''Medieval Wordbook'' p. 240 The kings of the
House of Normandy The House of Normandy ( Norman French Norman or Norman French (', french: Normand, Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the spoken in . It is sometimes ...
, however, eventually imposed on all free men who occupied a tenement(i.e. those whose tenures were "freehold", that is to say for life or heritable by their heirs), a duty of
fealty An oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour ...
to the crown rather than to their immediate lord who had enfeoffed them. This was to diminish the possibility of sub-vassals being employed by tenants-in-chief against the crown. In the great feudal survey
Domesday Book Domesday Book () – the Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent ...
(1087), tenants-in-chief were listed first in each
English county The counties of England are areas used for different purposes, which include administrative, geographical, cultural and political demarcation. The term 'county' is defined in several ways and can apply to similar or the same areas used by each ...
's entry. The lands held by a tenant-in-chief in England, if comprising a large
feudal barony A feudal baron is a vassal A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, ...
, were called an
honour Honour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage a ...
.Ganshof ''Feudalism'' p. 166


Duties of tenants-in-chief

As feudal lord, the king had the right to collect
scutage Scutage is a medieval English tax levied on holders of a knight's fee In feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was a combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the ...
from the barons who held these ''honours''.Bartlett ''England under the Norman and Angevin Kings'' p. 164 Scutage (literally ''shield money'', from '''') was a tax collected from vassals in lieu of military service. The payment of scutage rendered the crown more independent of the
feudal levy Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service. Conscription ...
and enabled it to pay for troops on its own. Once a tenant-in-chief received a demand for scutage, the cost was passed on to the sub-tenants and thus came to be regarded as a universal land tax. This tax was a development from the taxation system created under the Anglo-Saxon kings to raise money to pay off the invading Danes, the so-called
Danegeld The Danegeld (; "Danish tax", literally "Dane yield" or tribute) was a tax raised to pay tribute to the Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr were the seafaring Norse people from southern Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norwa ...
.Bartlett ''England under the Norman and Angevin Kings'' p. 165


Heirs

When an English tenant-in-chief died, an
inquisition post mortem An Inquisition post mortem (abbreviated to Inq.p.m. or i.p.m., and formerly known as an escheat) (Latin, meaning "(inquisition) after death") is an English medieval record of the death, estate and heir of one of the king's tenants-in-chief In medi ...
was held in each county in which he held land and his or her land temporarily
escheat Escheat is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person ...
ed (i.e.reverted) to the
demesne A demesne ( ) or domain was all the land retained and managed by a lord of the manor Lord of the manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries f ...
of the crown until the heir paid a sum of money (a
relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the ...
), and was then able to take possession (
livery of seisin Livery of seisin () is an archaic legal conveyancing In law, conveyancing is the transfer of legal title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official pos ...
) of the lands. However, if the heir was underage (under 21 for a male heir, under 14 for an heiress) they would be subject to a ''feudal wardship'' where the custody of their lands and the right to arrange their marriage passed to the monarch, until they came of age. The wardship and marriage was not usually kept in Crown hands, but was sold, often simply to the highest bidder, unless outbid by the next of kin.''Court of Wards and Liveries: land inheritance 1540–1645'' When an heir came of age, he or she passed out of wardship but could not enter upon their inheritance until, like all heirs of full age on inheritance, they had sued out their livery. In either case, the process was complicated. Eventually a warrant was issued for the livery to pass under the
Great Seal A great seal is a seal Seal may refer to any of the following: Common uses * Pinniped Pinnipeds (pronounced ), commonly known as seals, are a widely range (biology), distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, List of semi ...
. From its inception in 1540, The
Court of Wards and Liveries The Court of Wards and Liveries was a court established during the reign of Henry VIII of England, Henry VIII in England. Its purpose was to administer a system of feudalism, feudal dues; but as well as the revenue collection, the court was also ...
administered the funds received from the wardships, marriages and the granting of livery; both courts and practice were abolished in 1646Friar ''Sutton Companion to Local History'' p. 465 and the whole system of feudal tenure – except for
fee simple In English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in writte ...
– was abolished by the
Tenures Abolition Act 1660 The Tenures Abolition Act 1660 (12 Car 2 c 24), sometimes known as the Statute of Tenures, was an Act of the Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Org ...
.


See also

*
Imperial immediacy Imperial immediacy (german: Reichsfreiheit or ') was a privileged constitutional and political status rooted in German feudal law under which the Imperial estate An Imperial State or Imperial Estate ( la, Status Imperii; german: Reichsstand, plu ...
*
Fee simple In English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in writte ...
*
English Feudal Baronies King John signs '' Magna Carta'' at Runnymede in 1215, surrounded by his baronage">Runnymede.html" ;"title="Magna Carta'' at Runnymede">Magna Carta'' at Runnymede in 1215, surrounded by his baronage. Illustration from ''Cassell's History of Engla ...
*
History of the English fiscal system The history of the English fiscal system affords the best known example of continuous financial development in terms of both institutions and methods. Although periods of great upheaval occurred from the time of the Norman Conquest The Nor ...


Notes


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * *


Further reading

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Tenant-in-chief 1660 disestablishments in England Medieval economics
Noble titles This category works on a broad definition of nobility, including ruling houses of true monarchies, peerage or equivalents and lower aristocracy or gentry. Please note that this page is unlikely ever to list ''all'' 'noble' titles discussed in Wikipe ...
Political history Titles in the United Kingdom Scots law legal terminology Land tenure Barons