Were Medieval European Nobles Vassals of Other Nobles?

May 2017
Of course,exemple my family:Du Puy du Mazeldan,alias Dupuy Montbrun:6th branch of the "Du Puy en diocese d Ales":matricule 27915 of the Grand Armorial de France.Prooves of aristocracy:Cherin-Berthier de Sauvigny collection, volume165.Original Pieces volumes 2400-2405.Documents conserved in the precious collections of the National Bibliothec,Bussy Saint Georges.
During the war of the Albigenses (1208-1245) vassality with the duque of Bourgogne Eudes.
Instalation in Ales (1225-1230) in the castle of Cendras;doble vassality,the baron of Àles, Raymond de Pelet,colaborator of the king Louis VIII,and the priest of the abbey of Cendras.Proof of little aristocracy,impossibility to obtain for our second brothers,the direction of the abbey.So they stayed in La Charite sur Loire,near Nevers, until 1430.
Distinction of "knight" during five centuries:vassality with the barons of À les,and later,with the earls of À les:families de Rogier de Beaufort,de Boucicaut,de Montmorency-Damville;de Bourbon-Conti.
Vassalities directs and temporaries:Charles V and Charles VII during the wars against England;vassality with Poton de Xaintrailles of one of our member,Andre Dupuy de Durfort,at the end of the war.


Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
Canary Islands-Spain
First. A noble could be vassal of a King, but just in a certain territory. The count of Normandy was a vassal of the King of French because of Normandy; however, when one of them conquered England and became king (William the Conqueror), the Kingdom of England was not subjected to the King of France. The King of England was vassal of the King of France not because of England, but just because he was count of Normandy, an integral part of the Kingdom of France (and then, Anjou, Aquitaine or other territories).
A king could be a vassal too.

William I and his immediate descendants were both King of England and Duke of Normandy, and thus were vassals of the King of France in their capacity as Duke of Normandy.

The Duke of Normandy, sorry


Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
This is very helpful, thank you. To clarify in a simplified feudal system a Duke could have a count as a vassal but not a Baron?
If a baron is defined as a feudal lord with no other higher title who is directly below to the king - for his barony, then by definition a Baron could not be subordinate - for his barony - to any other nobleman in the kingdom. In England the barons were defined as the more powerful of the tenants-in-chief of the King, (holding their fiefs directly from the king) in the first couple of centuries or so after the Norman Conquest and then began to be defined as holders of a specific noble title and to have a hereditary right to sit in Parliament.

A feudal duke would be the overlord of all counts, viscounts, lords, knights, etc. in his duchy. If one of those counts, viscounts, lords, knights, etc. became free of feudal dependence on the duke and became a direct vassal of the king his lands would no longer be part of the duke's duchy.

But a really good answer about feudal nobility would have to be very long and complex, broken down region by region, and century by century.