For example,

The knight was a vassal in the service of a baron.

What is the state of him being/not being a vassal, i.e.

The vassal-ship of the knight dictated that he serve the baron.

What's the correct word to replace "vassal-ship"? Or is that bad grammar, and I shouldn't even need to use that word?

  • 6
    Vassalage : the state of being a vassal. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vassalage - vassalage (n.) c. 1300, from Old French vassalage, vasselage "the service of a vassal," from vassal. etymonline.com/index.php?term=vassalage
    – user66974
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 18:53
  • 1
    Looks like I was googling "to be a vassal", not "the state of being a vassal".
    – user211545
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 18:57
  • 1
    A similar word is to vacillate.
    – QuentinUK
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 0:18
  • 1
    @Quentin ... no? Completely different meaning.
    – user211545
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 0:21
  • 1
    @Quentin 1. I doubt it's from the same root. 2. Yeah, but it still has no bearing on "vassal"
    – user211545
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 0:24

3 Answers 3


As Josh pointed out, Vassalage is what you're looking for.

Vassalage via M-W

  1. A position of subordination or submission (as to a political power)

  2. The state of being a vassal

  3. The homage, fealty, or due from a vassal

  • Josh doubtless put the word in a 'comment' because OP's research should have turned it up. Piggybacking such as this is detrimental to the site's credibility. Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 19:43
  • I disagree. OP perhaps should have done more research, but he asked a question and this is a question and answer forum. Josh's response was a direct answer to OP's question, and belongs in the answer section. Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 2:04
  • The polite practice is to promote someone else's answer given in a 'comment' for a reason they themselves have to a Community Wiki, rather than piggyback (there is a more formal term). Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 10:40

Consider allegeance, as in "the allegeance of the knight to the king".

Definition: the obligation of a feudal vassal to his liege lord; the loyalty of a subject to his or her sovereign.

Example: Vassals in the Middle ages were those who held the land, called a fief, and owed service and allegiance to the lord who granted them that land. The vassal was usually a knight or a baron, but could also be a member of the clergy or a trusted member of nobility. Vassals in the Middle Ages were an integral part of feudalism, which was the system of government throughout Europe in the Middle Ages.

Read "Rights and Responsibilities in Medieval Europe"


Consider fealty:

From Oxford Online:

mass noun


1A feudal tenant's or vassal's sworn loyalty to a lord.

‘they owed fealty to the Earl rather than the King’

1.1 Formal acknowledgement of loyalty to a lord.

‘a property for which she did fealty’

So your example would become:

The knight owed fealty to the baron.

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