Medieval History Term of the Week: Tenant in Chief

Tenant in Chief

1) A lord or institution (the Church being most common) holding land directly from the king. All Earls are Tenants in Chief. (MEDIEV-L. Medieval Terms)

2) A “tenant-in-capite [kap-i-tee],” one who holds land by direct grant from the Crown; one who is a vassal of the king. (Hogue, Arthur R. Origins of the Common Law, 257)

3) Landowners who held some or all of their land direct from the king; among these were most of the bishops and the heads of many early religious houses. (Heath, Peter. Church and Realm, 1272-1461, 369)

*term definitions retrieved from Netserf’s Medieval Glossary (

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