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Encyclopedia > Vassal
Look up vassal in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
See also vassal state.

A vassal or lord, in the terminology that both preceded and accompanied the feudalism of medieval Europe, is one who enters into mutual obligations with a monarch, usually of military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain guarantees, which came to include the terrain held as a fief. By analogy it is applied to similar systems in other feudal societies. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 150 languages. ... A puppet state is a state whose government, though notionally of the same culture as the governed people - owes its existence (or other major debt) to being installed, supported or controlled by a more powerful entity, typically a foreign power. ... A Lord (Laird in some Scottish contexts) is a male who has power and authority. ... Feudalism comes from the Late Latin word feudum, itself borrowed from a Germanic root *fehu, a commonly used term in the Middle Ages which means fief, or land held under certain obligations by feodati. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times. ... World map showing the location of Europe. ... A monarch (see sovereignty) is a type of ruler or head of state. ... Under the system of feudalism, a fiefdom, fief, feud, feoff, or fee, often consisted of inheritable lands or revenue-producing property granted by a liege lord in return for a form of allegiance, originally to give him the means to fulfill his military duties when called upon. ...

Contents

Western vassalage

In fully-developed vassalage, a commendation ceremony, composed of homage and fealty with solemnity adapted from formulas of Christian sacraments eventually made its appearance. Such elegant refinements were not in evidence at the outset, however: according to Eginhard's brief description, the commendatio made to Pippin in 757 by Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, involved the relics of Saint Denis, Saint Rusticus and Saint Éleuthère, Saint Martin and Saint Germain, which had apparently been assembled at Compiègne for the event [1]. Charlemagne receiving the oath of fidelity and homage from one of his great vassals:facsimile of a monochrome miniature in a 14th century Ms of the Chronicles of St. ... For a description of the medieval homage ceremony see commendation ceremony Homage is generally used in modern English to mean any public show of respect to someone to whom you feel indebted. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... Einhard as scribe Einhard (born about 775 in the valley of the River Main, died March 14, 840, at Seligenstadt, Germany) was a Frankish historian and a dedicated servant of Charlemagne. ... Pippin the Younger Pippin the Younger or Pepin[1] (714 – September 24, 768), often known under the mistranslation Pippin the Short or the ordinal Pippin III, was the king of the Franks from 751 to 768 and is best known for being the father of Charlemagne, or Charles the Great. ... Tassilo III was duke of Bavaria from 748 to 787, the last of the house of the Agilolfings. ... Compiègne is a commune in the Oise département of France, of which it is a sous-préfecture. ...


At the commendatio, "the vassal thereupon fell under the charismatic power, pagan in origin, of the lord: his mundeburdium or mainbour, true power, at once possessive and protective" (Rouche 1987, p 429). Under the influence of the "mainbour" all previous social differentiations fell away, in a restructuring of social obligations that was radically new (Rouche 1987 p 429ff).


The development of the vassal, in a society that was increasingly organised around the concept of "lordship"— in French the seigneur— provides one of the threads by which the onlooker can see the Early Middle Ages evolving out of Late Antiquity. Lordship is the basic social institution of the uprooted Germanic societies, as Tacitus described them in Germania and the Roman West experienced them firsthand in the Migrations Period. The irreducible unit within these "tribes", which were in fact often assemblages of mixed culture (see Alamanni), was the comitatus or gefolge, "the Germanic war band as described by Tacitus and in Beowulf... based on the loyalty of warriors to their chieftain." (Cantor 1993 p.197) A similar Roman institution, in the social disorder of the 5th and 6th centuries, was the patrocinium, commonly translated by the French term "clientage". The court-like followers who gathered of a morning in the hall of a great Roman personage in the early Empire had devolved into a gang of young "enforcers" grouped round the charismatic figure of a patricius. This word too had changed from its more familiar original meaning, now to denote a military commander: the careers of Stilicho or Aëtius give examples of a patricius of the 5th century. By contrast, an apparent comparable example from the East, like the general Belisarius, still bore the aura of imperial legitimacy that the Western warlords could afford to ignore. Seigneur means, in French, lord. The term is often used in the Medieval system of Feudalism and Manorialism where it means the possessor of a seigneurie or fief. ... Justinians wife Theodora and her retinue, in a 6th century mosaic from the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. ... Late Antiquity is a rough periodization (c. ... Gaius Cornelius Tacitus Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (c. ... Map of the Roman Empire and the free Germania, Magna Germania, in the early 2nd century. ... The German term Völkerwanderung (lit. ... area settled by the Alamanni, and sites of Roman-Alamannic battles, 3rd to 6th century The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Main, land that is today part of Germany. ... The first page of Beowulf Beowulf is an Old English heroic epic poem composed in the later Early Middle Ages (in the 8th, 9th or 10th century). ... Stilicho (right) with his wife Serena and son Eucherius Flavius Stilicho (occasionally written as Stilico) (ca. ... Flavius Aetius or simply Aetius, (circa 396 - 454), was a Roman general of the closing period of the Western Roman Empire. ... Belisarius is thought to be the figure to the right of Emperor Justinian I in the mosaic in the Church of San Vitale Ravenna that celebrates the reconquest of Italy, performed by the Byzantine army under the skillful leadership of Belisarius himself. ...


As the system developed in the seventh century, the vassals were gangs of freemen who voluntarily subjected themselves, in some varying degree of formality, to the authority of a leader, from whose distribution of loot they could expect to be fed, clothed and armed. The quality of a vassal was only in his fighting ability and the strength of his loyalty. The etymology of "vassal" is from a Celtic word gwas "boy" that designated a young male slave, with a Latinised form, vassus that appeared in Salic Law (Rouche 1987 p 429), not unlike the derivation of "knight" from Old English cniht and cognates in Frisian and Dutch, all meaning "lad" [2]. The King of the Franks, in the midst of the military chiefs who formed his Treuste -- or armed court, dictates the Salic Law (Code of the Barbaric Laws). ... The silver Anglia knight, commissioned as a trophy in 1850, intended to represent the Black Prince. ...


All later connotations, of chivalry, of aristocratic lineage and even of land-holdings have to be set aside: the original vassals were as mobile as their lords, a retinue of sworn bodyguards, whose status was a reflection of the status of their lord. The Merovingian kings of the 7th century dignified their personal retainers as antrustiones (Cantor 1993, p.198). In an earlier age, Alexander's bodyguard of generals were similarly singled out as his "companions." The various meanings of peer (French paire) still retain some sense of this original parity among equals who followed the charismatic leader. Bors Dilemma - he chooses to save a maiden rather than his brother Lionel Chivalry[1] is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood. ... There are other articles with similar names; see Merovingian (disambiguation). ... Alexander the Great (Greek: ,[1] Megas Alexandros; July 356 BC–June 11, 323 BC), also known as Alexander III, king of Macedon (336–323 BC), was one of the most successful military commanders in history. ... For other uses, see Peerage (disambiguation). ...


Charlemagne's later developments connected vassals with the rewards of land, the only form of generating wealth, in a slow process, connected with the development of the agricultural institutions called "manorialism" and the social and legal structures labelled— but only since the 18th century— "feudalism". It was a slow process that unfolded at different natural rhythms in various regions. In Merovingian times, only the greatest and most trusted vassals would be rewarded with lands. Even at the most extreme devolution of any remnants of central power, in 10th century France, the majority of vassals still had no fixed estate (Ganshof 1964). A portrait of Charlemagne by Albrecht Dürer that was painted several centuries after Charlemagnes death. ... Generic plan of a mediaeval manor; open-field strip farming, some enclosures, triennial crop rotation, demesne and manse, common woodland, pasturage and meadow Manorialism or Seigneurialism is the organization of rural economy and society in medieval western and parts of central Europe, characterised by the vesting of legal and economic... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ...


The stratification of a fighting band of vassals into an upper group composed of great territorial magnates, strong enough to ensure the inheritance of their benefice to the heirs of their family, and a lower group of landless knights attached to a "count" or "duke" might roughly be correlated with the new term "fief" that was superseding "benefice" in the 9th century. The social settling out process also received impetus in fundamental changes in conducting warfare. As the example of the Huns demonstrated to the Romanised world that cavalry superseded a melee of fighting men on foot in determining the outcome of battles, the cost of maintenance of a mounted and increasingly armoured fighting force was inflated. A mounted vassal needed wealth to equip the band of mounted fighters he was under obligation to contribute to his lord's frequent disputes, and wealth, where a money economy had disappeared, was only to be found in land and its productions, which included peasants, as much a resource of the land as wood and water. A count is a nobleman in most European countries, equivalent in rank to a British earl, whose wife is also still a countess (for lack of an Anglo-Saxon term). ... A duke is a nobleman, historically of highest rank and usually controlling a duchy. ... Under the system of feudalism, a fiefdom, fief, feud or fee, consisted of heritable lands or revenue-producing property granted by a liege lord in return for a vassal knights service (usually fealty, military service, and security). ... The Huns were a confederation of Central Asian equestrian nomads or semi-nomads. ... In a detail of Brueghels Land of Cockaigne (1567) a soft-boiled egg has little feet to rush to the luxuriating peasant who catches drops of honey on his tongue, while roast pigs roam wild: in fact, hunger and harsh winters were realities for the average European in the...


Uses in Computer Gaming

In a computer strategy game called "Europa Universalis" (I-III) it is possible to make other countries your vassal by either first having a "royal marriage", "military alliance", same "religion", relationship of +190 or better, and a land border. Once these requirements are meant and you have a larger territory then the "country" you are trying to vassal, then you may offer them to enter a "vassalization". The country that is being offered the vassalization may then either accept it or decline the offer. A higher "monarach" diplomatic rating usually increases the odds that the country to be vassals will accept. Europa Universalis is a grand strategy computer game released in 2000 by Paradox Entertainment and is distributed in North America by Strategy First. ... A military alliance is an agreement between two, or more, countries; related to wartime planning, commitments, or contingencies; such agreements can be both defensive and offensive. ... In political geography and international politics a country is a geographical entity, a territory, most commonly associated with the notions of state or nation. ...


Alternatively you may just want to conquer another enemy country and make them your vassals, however you must achieve at least a 70% "victory" over the war to offer this to the opposing country in a "peace offer". Having a dominate victory or 100% (they control nothing) will pretty much make it nearly a definite that they will accept to become your vassals, however you may not be able to receive and "provinces"due to the high amount of war "victory points" it takes to demand that a country become your vassals. It is important to note that only countries with the same religion as you, and is not already vassaled to another country, as if any of these are not met, then no mattter how much victory favor points you have, you'll never by aboe to vassalize them. Look up Victory in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Province is a name for a secondary, or subnational entity of government in most countries. ... In development-oriented computer games, the strength of a players development is often measured by an abstract quantity of victory points, which accumulate as the game develops. ...


See also

Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ... This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... Thegn or Thane, is an Anglo-Saxon word (þeg(e)n) meaning an attendant, servant, retainer or official. ... A vavasour, (also vavasor, Old French vavassor, vavassour, French vavasseur, LL. vavassor, probably from vassus vassorum vassal of the vassals) is a term in Feudal law. ...

Compare

Gokenin (御家人; lit. ... This page is about the Japanese ruler and military rank. ... Honorary guard of Mongolia. ...

References

  • Cantor, Norman, The Civilization of the Middle Ages 1993
  • Ganshof, François Louis, Feudalism translated 1964
  • Rouche, Michel, "Private life conquers state and society," in A History of Private Life vol I, Paul Veyne, editor, Harvard University Press 1987 ISBN 0-674-39974-9

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