Squires and Oaths of Fealty

by Sir Arni Grimsson

Medieval oaths of service such as those between a Knight and Squire or between a Guild Master and Apprentice gave rights and obligations to both parties. A squire or apprentice would usually be expected to develop skills so as to eventually become an equal to his or her former master, and therefore had higher status than servants.
Here is the original source which was adapted for the two squires of Albion who took Oaths at the Winter Feast. As you will see, the squire's oath is conditional on the Knight respecting him and treating him well and the Knight promises to protect the squire from enemies.

I: An Anglo Saxon Form of Commendation (from Schmidt: Gesetze der Angelsachsen, p. 404)
Thus shall one take the oath of fidelity: "By the Lord before whom this sanctuary is holy, I will to N. be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns, according to the laws of God and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to him and chose his will."

II: Acceptance of an Antrusian, 7th Century (from Roziere: Collection de Formules, No. VIII, Vol I, p.8)
"It is right that those who offer to us unbroken fidelity should be protected by our aid. And since such and such a faithful one of ours, by the favor of God, coming here in our palace with his arms, has seen fit to swear trust and fidelity to us in our hand, therefore we decree and command by the present precept that for the future such and such above mentioned be counted with the number of Antrustions. And if anyone perchance should presume to kill him, let him know that he will be judged guilty of his wergild of 600 shillings."

from E. P. Cheyney, trans, University of Pennsylvania. Dept. of History: Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, published for the Dept. of History of the University of Pennsylvania., Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1898]. Vol IV, No: 3, 3-5

Click here to return to newsletter contents page
Perfidious Albion Home Page