From Fief to Indenture: The Transition from Feudal to Non-Feudal Contract in Western Europe

From Fief to Indenture: The Transition from Feudal to Non-Feudal Contract in Western Europe

From Fief to Indenture: The Transition from Feudal to Non-Feudal Contract in Western Europe

From Fief to Indenture: The Transition from Feudal to Non-Feudal Contract in Western Europe

Excerpt

The present book had its beginnings in a thesis completed in 1949 under the direction of Professor Carl Stephenson of Cornell University. It was at that time, while investigating the role of the fief-rente under the English kings, that I felt the need eventually to expand the study to include all western Europe. A cursory examination of the continental records had shown that the fief-rente was a prominent institution in France, Germany, and the Low Countries. In an excellent work, M. Sczaniecki had clearly defined the fief-rente in France, but its place in the rest of western Europe had been mainly neglected. When the conclusions I drew from the English records, as set down in an article in the English Historical Review, differed sharply from those of Sczaniecki, it was evident that the next step should be a study of the German and Low Country sources in addition to a more extensive examination of the English and French evidence. This project received the warm support of Professor Stephenson who, in the tradition of Henri Pirenne and Charles Homer Haskins, believed that medieval institutions could be better understood when viewed not as national but as western European.

During 1951-52 I was fortunate in having the opportunity to work in the national and provincial archives of Belgium and France, as well as in the Public Record Office and the British Museum. The material collected at that time has resulted in this book. It is regretted that time did not permit working in the German archives, but most of the pertinent records have already been so well edited that I feel the uncovering of a few more would have resulted in little new information. I have attempted throughout to maintain a balanced account of the fief-rente in France, Germany, the Low Countries, and England; if at times it seems that I have put more stress on the French, Low Country, and English evidence than on the German, it is only because the fief-rente never obtained the . . .

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