Under the system of feudalism, a fiefdom, fief, feud, feoff, or fee, often consisted of inheritable lands or revenue-producing property granted by a liege lord, generally to a vassal, in return for a form of allegiance, originally to give him the means to fulfill his military duties when called upon. However anything of value could be held in fief, such as an office, a right of exploitation (e.g., hunting, fishing) or any other type of revenue, rather than the land it comes from.

Originally, the feudal institution of vassalage did not imply the giving/receiving of landholdings (which were granted only as a reward for loyalty), but by the eighth century the giving of a landholding was becoming standard. The granting of a landholding to a vassal did not relinquish the lord's property rights, but only the use of the lands and their income; the granting lord retained ultimate ownership of the fief and could, technically, recover the lands in case of disloyalty or death. [Cantor, 198-9.] By the middle of the tenth century, fiefs had largely become hereditary. [Cantor, 200.] Eventually, great feudal lords sought also to seize governmental and legal authority (the collection of taxes, the right of high justice, etc.) in their lands, and some passed these rights to their own vassals. [Cantor, 200.]

Derogatory usage

In contemporary usage, fiefdomism can refer to behavior of bureaucrats or small time politicians when information or programs are isolated and jealously guarded from other bureaucrats or small time politicians in order to preserve their power at the expense of making government worse.

ee also

*Appanage (consisting in part of the liege's domain, granted to a junior relative)

ources and references

*Norman F. Cantor. "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". New York: HarperPerennial, 1993. ISBN 0-06-092553-1

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • fiefdom — 1814, from FIEF (Cf. fief) + DOM (Cf. dom) …   Etymology dictionary

  • fiefdom — [fēf′dəm] n. 1. FIEF 2. anything under a person s complete control or authority …   English World dictionary

  • fiefdom — noun a) The estate controlled by a feudal lord; a fief. The dukes fiefdom had been greatly expanded as a reward for his dutiful military service on behalf of the king. b) Any organization in the control of a dominant …   Wiktionary

  • fiefdom — UK [ˈfiːfdəm] / US [ˈfɪfdəm] noun [countable] Word forms fiefdom : singular fiefdom plural fiefdoms mainly literary an area or organization that someone controls completely …   English dictionary

  • fiefdom — /ˈfifdəm/ (say feefduhm) noun 1. a feudal lord s estate. 2. a powerful person s area of control: he regards the whole brewing industry as his fiefdom …   Australian English dictionary

  • fiefdom — fief ► NOUN 1) historical an estate of land held on condition of feudal service. 2) a person s sphere of operation or control. DERIVATIVES fiefdom noun. ORIGIN Old French, variant of feu «fee» …   English terms dictionary

  • fiefdom — noun see fief …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • fiefdom — /feef deuhm/, n. 1. the estate or domain of a feudal lord. 2. Informal. anything, as an organization or real estate, owned or controlled by one dominant person or group. [1805 15; FIEF + DOM] * * * …   Universalium

  • fiefdom — Synonyms and related words: adverse possession, alodium, burgage, claim, colony, de facto, de jure, dependency, derivative title, fee fief, fee position, fee simple, fee simple absolute, fee simple conditional, fee simple defeasible, fee simple… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • fiefdom — fief|dom [ fifdəm ] noun count MAINLY LITERARY an area or organization that someone controls completely …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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