Fitzherbert on Fealty
In his book The Boke of Surveying and Improvements, John Fitzherbert has the following to say about fealty:
Of dyvers maners of takyng and doyng homage & fealtie
In so moche I have shewed dyvers dyversities of tenures, & also dyvers maners of makyng of coppyes, and the others of officers of the court, though they be not expressed in the statute. Me semeth also it were convenyent the dyversytes & maner of takynge and doyng homage and fealtie. And ye shall understande, that homage is moost honorable servyce & the moost humble servyce of reverence, that a free man may do to his lorde. For whan the tenaunt shall do homage to his chiefe lorde, of whome he holdeth his chefe maner or maneyon place, by knight servyce and priorite. He shalbe ungirde and his heed uncovered, & the lorder shall syt & the tenaunt shall knele before hym on bothe his knees, and shall holde his handes stretched out togyder bytwene the lordes handes, and shall say thus. I become your man from this day forwarde of lyfe and of membre, and of worldely honour. And to you shall be faythfull and lowly and shalle beare faythe to you, for the landes and tenementes the whiche I holde of you, savynge the faythe that I owe to our soveraygne lorde the kyng and my other lords. And the lorde so sytting shall kysse his tenaunt, the which is a sygne of prefyte love.And why saythe the tenaun of lyfe & of membre, and of all worldely honor? Because he holdeth his landes of his lorde by knight service and also by priorite. For and he holde other landes of a nother lorde by knight service and posteriorite, he shall nat saye to hym of lyfe and of membre, for though he be bounde to hym by reason of his tenures of knyght servyce, to go to batayle with his lorde, and to putte his life and membres in in jeopardy with his lorde: yet can he nat go with them bothe. And therefore shall he go to batayle with that lorde that he holdeth holdeth his landes by priorite. And bycause thereof, if any such tenant dye, his heyre beyngwithin age, the lorde shall have the kepyng of his body, and the profyte of those landes that be holden of hym. Wherefore it is to be presupposed, that the lorde wyll be more lovyng and kynde to hym, than any other of his frendes wolde be. Seyng, that whan he cometh of full age, he shall put his lyfe in jeopardy for his lorde, the which byndeth the lorde by reason the rather to do for hym, whan he is nat able to helpe hym selfe. Where as his frends may fortune cared nat for hym, and hadde lever another had the lande than he.
And yf an abbot or a priour, or any other man or woman of relygion shulde do homage, they shall say I become your man, &c, bycause they be all onely p-fessed to god to be his men and women, and to none other. And therefore they shall knele and holde their handes as the other dyde, and say thus. I do to you homage and to you shall be faythfull and lowly, for the landes and tenementes the which I holde of you, savynge the faythe I owe to our soverayne lorde the kyng, &c.
And yf a woman sole shulde do homage, she shall nat saye, I become your woman: for it is nat convenyant that a woman shulde become woman, to any other man than to her husbande, whan she is maryed. And therefore she shall saye as the relygious men and women dothe. I do to you homage, &c.
And if a woman covert with Baron shall do homage, they shall knele before the lorde both, & the lorde shall take bothe their handes bytwene his handes, & the husbande shall speke all the wordes, as thus. We to you do homage, and faythe to you we shall beare for the landes that we holde of you, savyng the fayth that we owe to our soverayne lorde the kyng his heyres, and to our other lordes: & they shall kysse the lorde &c.
And in case a man shulde do homage to his lorde, and the lorde graunt his homage and servyce to a nother man. Nowe shall the tenaunt do his homage & servyce to the grauntee, after this manner. I become your man fro this day forthe, and to you shalbe faithful and lowly, for the landes and tenements that I held of A.B. your grantour, in the townes of C.D. the which to you he hath graunted me homage and servyce in the sayde townes, savynge the faythe that I owe to our soveraigne lorde the kyng and my other lordes. &c.
And knowe you that one lorde may have done to hym dyvers homages of dyvers tenauntes, for one maner of lande. But one tenaunt shall do but ones homage for one maner of lande, for thoughe the lorde dye, hie heyre or his assigne, if he sell it or graunt it away, they do represent the lordes estate. But and the tenaunt have done his homage to his lorde, and after the maner, whereof the tenaunt holdeth his landes is recovered agaynst the lorde. Nowe shall the tenant do his homage agayne to him that recovered the maner, for he cometh nat in by the lorde, but by force of the recovere, the which proveth the first homage to be voyde, for it was done to hym that had no ryght to take it.
Also ye shall knowe, that a man may distreyne his tenauntes catell for homage by course of commen lawe, and also for relefe. And though a man have payed his relefe, yet he shall do homage and feaultie. also ye shall understande, that no man shall do homage, but he that hath a state of enherytaunce in fee symple or in fee tayle, in his owne right or in his wyves, for tenauntes for terme of lyfe, tenauntes by the coutesye, nor tenaunt in dower, shall do no homage, nor take no homage
And if a man holde landes of the kyng in chiefe, & have yssue thre or four doughters & dye, all the doughters shall do homage to the kynge. and if the landes be holden of another lorde, the eldest doughter shall do homage for all, and also the servyces. and the other doughters shal be contrybutories, and beare every one of them their porcyon of the same.