Seigneur (English: Seigneur; Lord)[1], was the name formerly given in France before the Revolution, and in New France and Canada until 1854, to the individual or the collective entity which owned a seigneurie — a form of land tenure — as a fief, with its associated rights over person and property.[2] A seigneur could be an individual, — male or female (seigneuresse), noble or non noble (roturier) — or a collective entity such a religious community, a monastery, a seminary, a college, a parish.

Sophie Masson, seigneuresse of Terrebonne, Canada

This form of lordship was called seigneurie, the rights that the seigneur was entitled to were called seigneuriage, and the seigneur himself was the seigneur justicier, because he exercised greater or lesser jurisdiction over his fief. Since the repeal of the feudal system on 4 August 1789 in the wake of the French Revolution, this office has no longer existed and the title has only been used for sovereign princes by their families.

In common speech, the term grandseigneur has survived. Today this usually means an elegant, urbane gentleman. Some even use it in a stricter sense to refer to a man whose manners and way of life reflect his noble ancestry and great wealth. In addition, Le Grand Seigneur had long been the name given by the French to the Ottoman sultan. Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ is the French equivalent of the English Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word seignorage is also derived from seigneur.

The word shares the same provenance as the Italian Signore, Portuguese Senhor and Spanish Señor, which in addition to meaning "Mister" were used to signify a feudal lord.

Use in Crown dependencies

The title is still used in the Bailiwick of Guernsey.[3] In particular, it refers to the Seigneur of Sark, the hereditary ruler of Sark, an island in the English Channel which swears fealty to the British Crown.

See also

References

  1. ^ Seigneur is often the preferred, if not exclusive, term used in English-language studies of the French seigneurial system (for example in: O. Hufton (1979), "The Seigneur and the Rural Community in Eighteenth-Century France. The Seigneurial Reaction"; R. Blaufarb (2010), "Communauté and Seigneurie in Early Modern Provence"; H. Root (1985), "Challenging the Seigneurie: Community and Contention on the Eve of the French Revolution".
  2. ^ "Seigneur". Merriam-Webster.
  3. ^ Cunningham, Andrew John (2016-11-28). "The Feudal Dues (Guernsey) Law, 1980" (PDF). Guernsey Legal Resources. Retrieved 2020-04-17.