Honour (feudal barony)

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In medieval England, an honour could consist of a great lordship, comprising dozens or hundreds of manors. Holders of honours (and the kings to whom they reverted by escheat) often attempted to preserve the integrity of an honour over time, administering its properties as a unit, maintaining inheritances together, etc.

The typical honour had properties scattered over several shires, intermingled with the properties of others. This was a specific policy of the Norman kings, to avoid establishing any one area under the control of a single lord.[1] Usually, though, a more concentrated cluster existed somewhere. Here would lie the caput (head) of the honour, with a castle that gave its name to the honour and served as its administrative headquarters.

A lordship could consist of anything from a field to vast territories all over England. Thus the designation honour can distinguish the large lordship from the small. The term has particular usefulness for the eleventh and twelfth centuries, before the development of an extensive peerage hierarchy.

Traditional mediaeval honours[edit]

Traditional mediaeval property-based honours included:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alexander, J. J. (1941), "Early Barons of Torrington and Barnstaple", Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 73: 154
  2. ^ Greenway, D.E., ed. (1972). Charters of the Honour of Mowbray 1107–1191. London.