Legal Definition and Related Resources of Fealty

Meaning of Fealty

common law term designating the obligation of fidelity which the feudal tenant owed to his lord.

Fealty Alternative Definition

That fidelity which every man who holds lands of another owes to him of whom he holds. Under the feudal system, every owner of lands held them of some superior lord, from whom or from whose ancestors the tenant had received them. By this connection the lord became bound to protect the tenant in the enjoyment of the land granted to him; and, on the other hand, bhe tenant was bound to be faithful to his lord, and to defend him against all his enemies. This obligation was called fdelitas, or fealty. 1 Bl. Comm. 263; 2 Bl. Comm. 86; Co. Litt. 67b; 2 Bouv. Inst, note 1566. This fealty was of two sorts, that which is general, and is due from every subject to his prince ; the other special, and required of such only as in respect of their fee are tied by this oath to their landlords. 1 Bl. Comm. 367; Cowell. The oath or obligation of fealty was one of the essential requisites of the feudal relation. 2 Sharswood, Bl. Comm. 45, 86; Litt. §§ 117, 131; Wright, Ten. 35; Termes de la Ley; 1 Washb. Real Prop. 19. Fealty was due alike from freeholders and tenants for years as an incident to their estates, to be paid to the reversioner. Co. Litt. 67b. Tenants at will did not have fealty. 2 Flintoflf, Real Prop. 222; Burton, Real Prop. 395, note; 1 Washb. Real Prop. 371. It has now fallen into disuse, and is no longer exacted. 3 Kent, Comm. 510; Wright, Ten. 35, 55; Cowell.

Synonyms of Fealty


  • allegiance
  • compliance
  • constancy
  • deference
  • devotion
  • duteousness
  • duty
  • faith
  • faithfulness
  • fidelity
  • homage
  • humble service
  • loyalty
  • obedience
  • respect
  • reverence
  • servility
  • steadfastness
  • support
  • veneration

Related Entries of Fealty in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

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Fealty in Historical Law

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Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

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This definition of Fealty is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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Fealty in the Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims

Latin fidelitas: fides, confidence, trust faith. The oath or obligation of a vassal, under the feudal system, to be faithful to his lord and defend him against all enemies.-1 Bl. Com. 367; id 45, 53; 41 Pa. 499.

Note: This legal definition of Fealty in the Dictionary of Law (English and American Jurisprudence) is from 1893.



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