Norman Conquest Encyclopedia
Oath of Fealty
Under the system of feudalism which prevailed in Normandy, land was held by grant from one's lord to whom loyalty and service were due in return. This obligation was solemnized by the swearing of an oath of fealty. The binding power was thought to be increased if, instead of merely swearing on, for example, the Bible the oath was made on the bones of saints. In 1064 Harold Godwinsson was the somewhat unwilling guest of William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy and it was said that he made an oath of fealty to William on the bones of saints. Thus, when Harold agreed to become king of England, Norman opinion had it that he had broken a sacred undertaking and must, therefore, be accursed of God. William's mission to overthrow Harold therefore received the blessing of Pope Alexander II and a Papal banner was given to be carried in battle.
- Hastings 1066 (Revised Edition)- The Fall of Saxon England
(Campaign 13 )