[Ravensfort] Service to ones Lord and Kiing

Kief av Kiersted sirkief at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 19 20:06:11 PDT 2007

Heilsa all...

The concept of "fealty" or a binding, sometimes temporary...other times 
permanent, between those of greater and lesser power is a very broad 
topic...and could cover many different time periods and cultures.

There is the concept of dedication to one's God, Goddess, or pantheon. Here 
the bond is made between a mortal human man or woman and one (or more) 
Deities. In exchange for some sort of "favor" from that Deity the human 
swears to take on the "cause" of the Deity or Deities named and do so even 
to the cost of the human's life.

Examples: Dedication to the Goddess Kali...i.e. Cult of Thugee
Dedication by a warrior to the God Odin for "Battle Luck / ability"...(This 
binding usually resulted in the oathed warrior becoming a "walking dead man" 
serving Odin until the God "called in the debt".

The idea of "lifetime" dedication to a human King, Queen, or Leader can also 
result in the concept of a "walking dead man".

Example: The Samurai would go into any situation that their overlord would 
send them into even if it was a "suicide" mission. To carry out one's sworn 
obligation to one's Lord was of paramount importance...even to the carrying 
out of ritual suicide...at the command of the overlord.
The Celts and the Spartans also had the tendency to follow the Warband 
leader or King even unto death..."Return either carrying your shield or on 

The path to European fealty was an echo of the various cultures in "greater 
Europe" and the oaths sworn by the soldiers of the Roman Legions. The long 
road to Medieval fealty started out simply as a sworn oath between warrior 
and Warband leader...to support and protect whatever the Warband leader held 
important...usually the Tribal lands or the members and families of the 

In the time of Charlemagne (the Butcher of the Saxons) the underpinnings of 
Medieval fealty were seen in the oaths of the men Charlemange surrounded 
himself with. Those that did well and performed ablely, especially in 
battle, were rewarded for their endeavors. In turn Charlemange protected 
them from their sometimes envious and more powerful neighbors.

This aspect of fealty...the Overlord's placing themselves "in harm's 
way"...was of great importance from that point forward to the current day 
when the men and women in today's Armed Services swear to protect the lands 
of America, America's population, and the Constitution of the United States 
of America in return for the President's sworn oath to do the same. He thus 
places himself in harm's way between those that would destroy our culture 
and the American citizenry...by wielding the Armed Forces of the US as the 
President and his advisors see fit against the enemies of America...if he is 
found in error he will either be not re-elected, impeached, or cast in 
history's light as having been wrong.

Those "punishments" pale in comparison to what would have happened to a 
failed King or Warband leader in Medieval times...

As the Middle Ages progressed towards the Renaissance the concept of Fealty 
became incredibly complex as the concepts of "overlapping fealty" grew out 
of the concept of "limited fealty"...serving an overlord for only a limited 
amount of days each year... "Overlapping fealty" occured when a minor  land 
holding Noble would swear fealty to the more powerful Duke that controlled 
land next to the minor Noble...as well, that minor Noble would have to swear 
fealty to the King. The real problem here was when that Duke went to War 
with the King for control of the country... Hmmmm...who to fight for? 
Backing the wrong horse in that race might just lead to loss of lands, 
title, or death.

Please include the factor of the Church's influence and the complexity 
deepens... Further...once the Protestants split from the Church of 
Rome...... Well, you can see that it would take a scholar to figure out the 
equations of layered and overlapping fealty...

There is, of course, much more to this than this extremely short writing 

To the current day...

SCA fealty is simple in the extreme by comparison.

In Ansteorra only the Knights and the Landed Nobility are required to swear 
an Oath of Fealty. Kingdom Officers are sworn to an Oath of Service. The 
other two Peerages, Pelican and Laurel, may swear an Oath of Fealty if they 
so desire...as can the minor Nobles of the Court and the general populace. 
There is also a difference between "personal fealty" to the King and Queen 
and Fealty to the Crown/Ansteorra. Generally "personal fealty" is reserved 
to that King and Queen that you know, respect, and trust.

Because of the Oath of Chivalry and the Oath of Fealty that binds the 
Knights to the Crown and Kingdom the Knights are most often used when the 
Crown has a particular job that needs to be done. Those jobs can range from 
being a War Leader, to Ambassador, to delivering a private message to 
another Noble or Peer (usually a stern warning or notice to remove 
themselves from a position of prominence before an incident has to be 
brought into the public eye). Knights also sit in Judgement on Courts of 
Chivalry. Knights also oversee meetings, pollings, and act as eye witnesses 
in various proceeding as the Crown wishes. Knights are also often asked to 
place themselves, as the Crown's Sworn Vassals, "in harm's way" to take the 
brunt of any attacks on any that the Crown deems in need of "protection" 
from malicious public attack.

Trusted Knights are expected to hold true and hold fast to their appointed 
duties for as long as necessary, needed, or until they are released from 
that duty by the Crown that assigned them the task or a subsequent Crown 
that feels the task is finished.

As a side note as a Knight trusted by many Crowns I have been required to do 
all of the tasks listed above several times over...as well as other tasks 
not named. Believe me...it is oft times a daunting and wearisome 
business...yet Knights are sworn to do such things whenever called.

Oaths of Fealty can also exist in the SCA between the various Peerages and 
their students. The Landed Nobles and those populace members that reside on 
the lands held in Fief from the Crown can also bind themselves with Oaths of 
Fealty. Either of these Oaths are commonly held to be of lesser strength 
than any Fealty sworn to the Crown.

I do hope that these words help explain a bit of the history of Fealty and 
it current usage in the modern SCA.

I remain in Oathed Service to Ansteorra and Raven's Fort...

Wæs Þu Hæl in TroÞ and FriÞ...!
Sir Kief
"Better the Hammer than the nail..."


>From: John Reuter <brian_the_french_norman at yahoo.com>
>To: ravensfort at lists.ansteorra.org
>Subject: [Ravensfort] Service to ones Lord and Kiing
>Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 20:34:51 -0700 (PDT)
>--- byzytym <byzytym at charter.net> wrote:
> > Devin,
> >
> > This October the 13th is the 700 year anniversary of
> > the 1307 mass arrest of the Knight Templers.  That
> > might make an interesting topic for the Quoth that
> > month.
> >
> > Baron Brian,
> > Aren't you some how related to the Templers ?  Was
> > it during that period ?
> >
> >
>I believe that this topic was covered in the Quoth
>last year around Halloween with a bad day in history
>article about the Templars. The day was Friday the 13
>in 1307 the Grand Master of the Templar order Jacques
>De Moley was going to see the king of France to
>pressure him in to calling a new crusade to retake
>Acer and Jerusalem.......... it was not a good day!
>As for the relation ship between my brothers and I and
>the holy order that you may be eluding to ......
>Baroness Fionna and I have sworn an oath of fealty to
>the King of Ansteorra to watch over his lands as his
>Representative and to enforce his law. As long as
>Baroness Fionna and I hold these lands in fife I will
>not pursue interests with any one that may cause my
>loyalty to the Crown or my service to our Barony to
>come in to question. I have been released of my
>obligations to my brothers so that I may serve my King
>and Barony. This new obligation I do not take lightly
>since my love for the land and all that make it whole
>are more precious to me than some may know. I would
>hope that one would sow seeds of love and care within
>our land and not allow the weeds of dispraise and hate
>to grow and suffocate the hard work that others are
>doing. One day I hope to satisfy my service to my king
>and know that I did serve my barony well. But until
>that day comes we will honor the lord and the lady,
>answer the call of battle and keep safe all who call
>their home RAVEN'S FORT.
>I think that the one issue of the Quoth should be on
>Fealty and Service to ones Lord and King.
>Your Baron.
>Brian du Val

More information about the Ravensfort mailing list