French Renaissance Paleography


Sancheville,[1] 18 May 1490
Aveu et dénombrement des biens de la seigneurie de Taillepied tenus par Robine Bordinelle
Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Case MS 123


In medieval France, when a vassal gained possession of a fiefdom, generally through purchase or inheritance, he participated in an homage ceremony in which he pledged submission to his lord. Then, within 40 days, he was obligated to provide a written declaration – an aveu – confirming the homage. This document was often accompanied by a dénombrement, a detailed list of the possessions the vassal held from his lord, with a statement of each party’s rights and obligations.

In the document presented here, vassal and lord both happen to be widows. Probably the aveu was made when Robine Bordinelle lost her husband Thomas Peigné, and thus gained possession of the fiefdom of Taillepied. Possibly due to old age or illness, Bordinelle deputized her son Pierre to perform in her name the ceremonies of homage and provide the aveu et dénombrement for each of Peigné’s possessions.

The document opens with Pierre’s aveu on behalf of his mother for the fiefdom of Taillepied, owned by Catherine de La Fontaine, lady of Verers and Taillepied, and widow of Jacques de Mainbier (fol. 1r). Next follows an extensive dénombrement pertaining to a long series of parcels of land (fol. 1v-16v).

For other examples of medieval homages, see Acte de foy et hommage au profit de noble homme Claude de Vignes, seigneur de la Vischardière, Hommage for fiefs/manifest, and Hommage de Jehan Vepres, dit le Moine, à son frère, pour un fief/manifest.

[1] Commune in Centre-Val-de-Loire, département Eure-et-Loir, arrondissement Châteaudun, canton Bonneval.- Caroline Prud’Homme