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, form of political and social organization typical of Western Europe from the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire to the rise of the absolute monarchies. The term feudalism is derived from the Latin feodum,
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in medieval Western Europe, the ritual act that formalized the conclusion of the vassalic contract. During the ceremony, the future vassal, kneeling unarmed and with uncovered head, placed his joined hands between the hands of the lord with the request that he be accepted as a vassal. The lord then raised him to his feet, and the two exchanged kisses.
In the eighth century the homage was combined with an oath of fealty. Until the 11th century the bond that was established between a lord and a vassal as a result of the homage and oath of fealty was primarily of a personal nature. Afterward, the homage and oath of fealty were accompanied, as a rule, by investiture—the bestowal of a fief on the vassal by the lord.