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The Demense (from which comes the modern word Domain) is the area of a fief or estate held by a lord for his own personal sustenance and that of his immediate household.

This is contrasted with the rest of his fief which would be subdivided and entrusted to vassals for their sustenance. From these fiefs a fief-rent would be paid, further enriching the overlord. The lords inhabiting these vassalages would consider whatever part of them was under their own personal control their own demense, although they might have vassals of their own holding a part of their fief.

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