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A Vassal, in the terminology that preceded and accompanied the feudalism of medieval Europe, is one who enters into mutual obligations with a monarch, usually of military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain guarantees, which came to include the terrain held as a fief. By analogy it is applied to similar systems in other feudal societies. It was always distinct from fidelitas, sworn loyalty of subject to king, and the honour, the respect and consideration that accrued to the vassal, unlike the delegated power of a comes or count, was not expressed in expectations of related public duty.

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