Fealty, from the Latin fidelitas or faithfulness, refers to a form of oath given from one person to another, pledging the allegiance of one to the other. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saints relic thus binding the oath taker before God.
In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between two people, the obligated person (vassal) and a person of rank (lord). This was done as part of a formal commendation ceremony to create a feudal relationship.
see commendation ceremony for a description of the oath of fealty ceremony.
Fealty and homage are a key element of feudalism.
The term is also used by English speakers to refer to similar oaths of allegiance in other feudal cultures, as with Japan prior to about 1500.
See also: homage, feudalism, vassal, commendation ceremony
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46