Online Encyclopedia

HOMAGE (from homo, through the Low La...

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 624 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HOMAGE (from homo, through the Low Lat. hominaticum, which occurs in a document of 1035), one of the ceremonies used in the granting of a fief, and indicating the submission of a vassal to his lord. It could be received only by the suzerain in person. With head uncovered the vassal humbly requested to be allowed to enter into the feudal relation; he then laid aside his sword and spurs, ungirt his belt, and kneeling before his lord, and holding his hands extended and joined between the hands of his lord, uttered words to this effect: " I become your man from this day forth, of life and limb, and will hold faith to you for the lands I claim to hold of you." The oath of fealty, which could be received by proxy, followed the act of homage; then came the ceremony of investiture, either directly on the ground or by the delivery of a turf, a handful of earth, a stone, or some other symbolical object. Homage was done not only by the vassal to whom feudal lands were first granted but by every one in turn by whom they were inherited, since they were not granted absolutely but only on condition of military and other service. An infant might do homage, but he did not thus enter into full possession of his lands. The ceremony was of a preliminary nature, securing that the fief would not be alienated; but the vassal had to take the oath of fealty, and to be formally invested, when he reached his majority. The obligations involved in the act of homage were more general than those associated with the oath of fealty, but they provided a strong moral sanction for more specific engagements. They essentially resembled the obligations undertaken towards a Teutonic chief by the members of his " comitatus " or " gefolge," one of the institutions from which feudalism directly sprang. Besides homagium ligeum, there was a kind of homage which imposed no feudal duty; this was homagium per paragium, such as the dukes of Normandy rendered to the kings of France, and as the dukes of Normandy received from the dukes of Brittany. The act of liege homage to a particular lord did not interfere with the vassal's allegiance as a subject to his sovereign, or with his duty to any other suzerain of whom he might hold lands. The word is also used of the body of tenants attending a manorial court, or of the court in a court baron (consisting of the tenants that do homage and make inquiries and presentments, termed a homage jury).
End of Article: HOMAGE (from homo, through the Low Lat. hominaticum, which occurs in a document of 1035)
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