Feud letter

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A feud letter (German: Fehdebrief or Absagebrief) was a document in which a feud was announced – usually with few words - in medieval Europe. The letter had to be issued three days in advance in order to be legally valid.

So that the feud did not became a case of murder and thus become punishable by law, those involved had to abide by the following rules:

  1. The feud, whether between knights or between the nobility and towns, had to be initiated by a formal feud letter
  2. The killing of innocent parties was forbidden
  3. The razing of houses and laying waste to the land was allowed
  4. During the feud, fighting was not permitted in churches or in the home, and the parties were to be allowed go to and return from church or court without being molested.


"Wettet, biscop Dierich van Moeres, dat wy den vesten Junker Johan can Cleve lever hebbet alls Juwe, unde wert Juwe hiermit affgesaget"
("Know this, Bishop Dietrich of Moers, that we prefer the steadfast Junker, John of Cleves, to you, and hereby give you notice thereof.")

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