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investiture

Introduction

investiture, in feudalism, ceremony by which an overlord transferred a fief to a vassal or by which, in ecclesiastical law, an elected cleric received the pastoral ring and staff (the symbols of spiritual office) signifying the transfer of the office. After the oath of fealty, the lord "invested" the vassal with the fief, usually by giving him some symbol of the land or office transferred.

The dispute over clerical investiture was one of the great struggles between church and state in the Middle Ages. The problem stemmed from the dual position of the important bishops and abbots, who were temporal as well as spiritual lords. Thus from early times both king and pope were concerned with clerical election and installation.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Middle Ages and Feudalism


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