During the century and a half which followed the Norman Conquest, the owner of land who attempted to transfer it might meet with opposition from three interested parties, his feudal overlord, his heir apparent and his tenant. His feudal overlord might object to a transfer by way of substitution, that is, one under the terms of which the transferor did not retain a reversion; because the proposed transferee was not a suitable person to perform the feudal services due for the land. As these services were frequently of a personal or military nature such an objection was not necessarily captious. His overlord might object with equal reason to a transfer by way of subinfeudation, that is, one under the terms of which the transferor did retain a reversion. Although in this case the transferor would remain personally responsible for the feudal services due to the overlord, the value of some of the feudal incidents of lordship might be seriously reduced. For example, if the owner died such, the overlord, by virtue of the feudal incident of wardship, would be entitled to possession of the land during the minority of the heir; whereas if the owner had transferred the land by way of subinfeudation, reserving only nominal services, such as a rose a year at midsummer, the overlord would be entitled only to those nominal services from the transferee during the minority of the transferor's heir. The reason why an heir apparent might object to the alienation of his anticipated inheritance requires no elucidation. The tenant might have cogent reasons for opposing a transfer which would require him to render homage, fealty and personal or military service to a stranger.
William F. Fratcher,
RESTRAINTS ON ALIENATION OF LEGAL INTERESTS IN MICHIGAN PROPERTY: I,
Mich. L. Rev.
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