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Medieval Sourcebook:
Modus Faciendi Homagium & Fidelitatem (The Manner of Doing Homage & Fealty), c. 1275

[Arkenberg Introduction]

The Modus faciendi homagium et Fidelitatem sets out both the proper words and the proper ceremonies for the swearing of homage and fealty by both free and villein tenants. It first appears in Common Law statute books written between 1275 and 1290. Thereafter its rate of appearance increases in every period, being included in 54% of the statute books written through the mid-fourteenth century.

When a Freeman shall do Homage to his Lord of whom he holds in Chief, he shall hold his hands together between the hands of his Lord, and shall say thus: "I become your Man from this day forth, for life, for member, and for worldly honor, and shall [owe] you Faith for the Lands that I hold of you; saving the Faith that I owe unto our Lord the King, and to [mine other Lords.]

And when a Freeman shall do homage to any other than to his Chief Lord, and for a simple Tenement, he shall hold his hands together between the Hands of his Lord, and shall say thus: "I become your Man from this day forth, and shall bear you Faith for the Tenement which I claim to hold of you; saving the Faith that I owe to our Lord the King, and to my other Lords."

When a Freeman shall do fealty to his Lord, he shall hold his Right Hand upon a book, and shall say thus "Hear you my Lord R. that I, P. shall be to you both faithful and true, and shall owe my Fidelity unto you, for the Land that I hold of you, and lawfully shall do such Customs and Services, as my Duty is to you, at the times assigned. So help me God and all his Saints.

When a Villein shall do Fealty unto his Lord, he shall hold his Right Hand over the Book, and shall say thus, "Hear you my Lord A. that I, B., from this day forth unto you shall be true and faithful, and shall owe you Faith for the land that I hold of you in Villeinage; and shall be justified by you in Body and Goods. So help me God and all his Saints.


From: A. Luders, ed., The Statutes of the Realm: Printed by Command of His Majesty King George the Third, in Pursuance of an Address of the House of Commons of Great Britain, From Original Records and Authentic Manuscripts, 11 vols., (London: Record Commission, 1810-1828), Vol. I, pp. 227-228.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text may have been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, August 1998
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