A payment that a vassal's heir was required to pay the feudal lord in order to inherit a fief. Before feudal tenures became hereditary, they were held conditionally based upon the receipt of feudal obligations. This meant that if a vassal died, the land reverted back to the lord, and the relief was the payment required to get it back.
Related term(s): Vassal; Lord; Fief; Feudal Obligation; Feudal Tenure; Feudal Tenant
Last modified: 12.31.04
Source information: Roberts, Clayton and Roberts, David. A History of England, Third Edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998. 76.