End of Europe's Middle Ages

Homage Ceremony

Galbert of Bruges describes the ceremony of homage to the new count William that took place in 1127. The description reflects the temporary nature of grants and commendations that had to be renewed on the transfer of power.

Through the whole remaining part of the day those who had been enfeoffed by the most pious count Charles, did homage to the count, taking up now again their fiefs and offices and whatever they had rightfully and legitimately obtained. On Thursday the seventh of April, homages were again made to the count being completed in the following order of faith and security.

First they did their homage thus, the count asked if he was willing to become completely his man, and the other replied, "I am willing"; and with clasped hands, surrounded by the hands of the count, they were bound together by a kiss. Secondly, he who had done homage gave his fealty to the representative of the count in these words, "I promise on my faith that I will in the future be faithful to count William, and will observe my homage to him completely against all persons in good faith and without deceit." And thirdly, he took his oath to this upon the relics of the saints. Afterward, with a little rod which the count held in his hand, he gave investitures to all who by this agreement had given their security and accompanying oath.

From E.P.Chesney, trans., University of Pennsylvania Translations and Reprints (1898) in Middle Ages Volume I: p128.

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