“Death pledge” sounds so serious doesn’t it? It’s actually just what “mortgage” means. So if you have a home loan, you do have a death pledge!
Of course this isn’t because the money-lender traditionally killed you if you defaulted on your repayments, but because “death” was being used in the sense of the end of something. In this case either full repayment or foreclosure.
In other words, you were pledging that you’d either pay back the loan or give the money-lender the house. You were pledging your house to secure the loan, which is how mortgages still work today.
Every time I see an ad for home loans, I replace “home loan” and “mortgage” with “death pledge”, because how can sentences like “competitive death pledge rates” not be amusing?