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fief

fief (or fee). An estate held by feudal tenure from a lord—in the case of tenants-in-chief the obligation was knight service to the king. In the early Norman period, some 2,500 knights were required. The archbishop of Canterbury was to provide 60, the abbot of Peterborough 60, the abbot of Bury St Edmunds 40: Robert of Gloucester was to provide 100, the honour of Totnes some 75. A five-hide unit was usually regarded as sufficient to maintain a knight, though it varied according to the character of the estate. The tenant-in-chief usually subcontracted to his own vassals and any shortfall in the number of knights needed would be made up by a personal retinue, directly supported by the lord and acting as a bodyguard if necessary. There were also uncommitted knights and mercenaries whom William the Conqueror and his successors employed to augment numbers. As the cost of maintaining horse and armour rose, the complement of the feudal levy declined and the proportion of hired men increased.

J. A. Cannon

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fief

fief / fēf/ • n. 1. hist. an estate of land, esp. one held on condition of feudal service. 2. a person's sphere of operation or control.

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fief

fief feudal estate. XVII. — (O)F. fief FEE.

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fief

fief: see feudalism.

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fief

fiefaperitif, beef, belief, brief, chief, enfeoff, fief, grief, interleaf, leaf, Leif, lief, Mazar-e-Sharif, misbelief, motif, naif, O'Keeffe, reef, seif, Sharif, sheaf, shereef, sportif, Tenerife, thief •tea leaf • fig leaf • bas-relief • flyleaf •drop-leaf • broadleaf • cloverleaf •massif • leitmotif

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