AskDefine | Define fealty

Dictionary Definition

fealty n : the loyalty that citizens owe to their country (or subjects to their sovereign) [syn: allegiance]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From fidelitas, faithfulness.

Pronunciation

\FEE-uhl-tee\

Noun

  1. Fidelity to one's lord; the feudal obligation by which the tenant or vassal was bound to be faithful to his lord; fidelity; allegiance; faithfulness.
  2. The oath by which this obligation was assumed.

Translations

fidelity to one's lord
the oath by which this obligation was assumed

Extensive Definition

An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas (faithfulness), is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, thus binding the oath-taker before God.
In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between two people, the obliged person (vassal) and a person of rank (lord). This was done as part of a formal commendation ceremony to create a feudal relationship.
Fealty and homage are a key element of feudalism. Under the feudal system, the smallest unit of land a fief could own was called a fea or fee, giving rise to the term freehold.
The term is also used by English-speakers to refer to similar oaths of allegiance in other feudal cultures, as with medieval Japan.

Related links

fealty in Hebrew: פידליטס
fealty in French: Serment général de fidélité au roi

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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