Loyal and Disloyal to the King

Verní a neverní kráľovi

In the Middle Ages a good relationship between the ruler and his people was built on loyalty (fidelitas). Loyalty to the king was also very important for the political order and preservation of the power of the ruler as well as his people (magnates, mounted warriors, bishops, abbots and provosts). The oath of personal fidelity, devotion and loyalty was a part of the ritual in strengthening the relationship between the lord and his man. In Medieval Latin the words fides and fidelitas had originally a religious meaning – believer, a Christian, and Faith. Later these words had begun to refer to the relationship between people, e.g. between the king and his faithful supporters who swore to him fidelity, devotion, reliability, and loyalty. Medieval intellectuals commented on fidelity, oaths, and infidelity as well. In their works they were mainly concerned with affection, love, friendship, morality, loyalty in the relationship between the lord and his people, which resulted in fidelity (forma fidelitatis). The people loyal to the king should not act against their lord’s interests, nor should they hurt him. They have received property, social promotion or exemption from previous service for their loyalty, tireless and devoted services. The examples from the Hungarian Kingdom provided in the study, coming from diplomatic as well as narrative sources, show the importance assigned to fidelity by the kings and by the scribes authoring the chronicles. They viewed it as the basis of the royal and main building block of a functional realm to rule in.