benefice (ben-[schwa]-fis).

1. Hist. A feudal estate in land, held during the life of the tenant. See BENEFICIUM(3).

¡°[T]he vassal no longer owns the land, but ¡®holds’ it ¡®of¡¯ the lord ¡ª the vassal has become a ¡®tenant¡¯ (from the Latin, ¡®tenere¡¯, to hold). The vassal’s interest in the land so held, first called a ¡®benefice¡¯, is now a ¡®feudum¡¯, anglicised in modern law as ¡®fee.¡¯ ¡± Peter Butt, Land Law 52 (3d ed. 1996).

2. Hist. Eccles. law. An estate held by the Catholic Church in feudal tenure. See BENEFICIUM(1), (2).

3. An ecclesiastical office such as a bishopric or parish; a preferment.


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