Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Oaths of Fidelity: Loyalty and Officeholding in Late Medieval Durham

Brown, A. T.

Oaths of Fidelity: Loyalty and Officeholding in Late Medieval Durham Thumbnail


Authors



Abstract

Oaths of fidelity, homage and fealty were ubiquitous in late medieval England. Variously given by tenants, officeholders and retainers, such oaths represented a promise of loyalty and goodwill towards a lord. Individuals might make many such professions, perhaps as a tenant of one lord, an officer of another or a hired retainer of yet a third. Such multiple loyalties can be difficult to recover, especially as many oaths would have been given verbally and left little documentary evidence. The nature of such social relations has been seen as vital to our understanding of the emergence of ‘bastard feudalism’ and attempts to understand the texture of late medieval politics. This article explores these issues through the unusual situation that arose in medieval Durham whereby the incoming officials of the bishops of Durham swore oaths of fidelity to the monks of Durham priory, an entirely separate landowner. Who were these individuals, what were they promising and why were the incoming officers of one lord swearing fidelity to another? This local arrangement likely arose to avoid conflict between the two major landowners in the region and demonstrates the ways that oaths and the resultant ties they created could aid in the social stability of late medieval England.

Citation

Brown, A. T. (2024). Oaths of Fidelity: Loyalty and Officeholding in Late Medieval Durham. History, 109(384-385), 34-58. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-229x.13384

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 3, 2024
Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2024
Publication Date 2024-04
Deposit Date Jan 3, 2024
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2024
Journal History
Print ISSN 0018-2648
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 109
Issue 384-385
Pages 34-58
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-229x.13384
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2078778

Files






You might also like



Downloadable Citations