Glossary – Medieval
abacus : the flat slab of stone at the top of a column forming the top of a capital and supporting the arch or wall above
abbey : a monastic community led by an abbot or abbess.
abjuration : a renunciation, under oath, of heresy to the Christian faith, made by a Christian wishing to be reconciled
with the church.
abutment : the section of wall to the side of the curving part of the arch erected to counter the thrust of the arch.
accosted : when heraldic charges are side by side.
accrued : in heraldry a tree that is fully grown.
achievement : a full display of armoral bearings, shield, helmet, crest etc.; an achievement of arms.
acre : the amount of land which one team can plough in a day. 120 acres was the average to maintain one family.
adorsed : when animals and other charges are positioned on a shield back to back.
advowson : right of presentation to a church dignitary.
affronty : in heraldry when a charge is shown full faced.
ailettes : small square metal plates attached to the shoulders to protect against sword blows.
aisle : with wings.
aisle : the passages to each side of the nave, separated from the nave by screens or columns.
aketon : a padded and quilted linen garment, worn under or instead of plate or mail armour.
allure : a walkway on the battlements of a castle.
almery : a box or cupboard for alms, or a cupboard in the chancel for sacred vessels.
alms : penance imposed by a priest on a member of the nobility requiring payment of a sum of money to the benefit
of the poor.
altar : flat topped wooden or ston table the cross, usuall at the east end of the church.
alure : the path along the top of a parapet at the top of a wall.
ambulant : heraldic term for walking.
ambulatory : the processional aisle around the apse at the east end of a church.
amercement : a fine in law, a financial penalty inflicted at the mercy of the king or his justices, for minor offences.
ampoule : vessel containing the sacred oil to anoint the Kings of France at the cathedral at Rheims.
ancere : tub for washing.
anelace : a heavy broad-bladed, sharp-pointed, double-edged knife.
angon : a six foot long spear for throwing. Used by Anglo-Saxons.
annulet : a ring around a circular pier or shaft. A circle on a shield used in heraldry.
antipope : someone elected in opposition to the current Pope. Not recognized by the Vatican.
apostate : one who leaves a religious order which was considered a serious crime by the Church.
appanage : part of the royal domain granted to a younger son by the king for his upkeep.
apse : a semicircular projection usually found at the east end of a church.
arbalest : a crossbow with a steel box stave.
arcade : a row of arches and columns dividing two places.
arch : a pointed or curved construction of wedge shaped strones.
architrave : the ornamental moulding running around the curve of an arch.
archivolt : a moulding carried around an arch.
argent : silver in heraldry.
armet : a closed helmet consisting of the rounded cap of the bascinet with two cheek pieces overlapping at the front
armiger : a person entitled to bear heraldic arms.
arming cap : a small quilted cap worn under a mail coif that offered protection against blows and friction of mail
against the head.
arpent : a measure of land roughly equal to an acre.
arrowsmith : maker of arrowheads.
artillator : Maker of bows, arrows, and other archery equipment.
ashlar : smooth and flat masonry blocks.
assart : to turn woodlands into pasture or cropland. To ‘assart’ lands without a license was a grave offence.
assize : the meeting of feudal vassals with the king, or the decrees issued by the king after such meetings.
asylum (right of) : the right for a bishop to protect a fugitive from justice or to intercede on his behalf.
aventail : a mail garment protecting the neck, or a curtain of mail to protect the neck suspended from the helmet and
reaching to the shoulders.
azure : blue in heraldry.
bacinet : relatively light helmet with a rounded or pointed top.
badge : an emblematic figure, placed on some prominent part of clothing of servants and retainers to distinguish which
household they belonged.
bailey : enclosed courtyard, outer walls of castle or space between outer and inner walls.
baldric : sword-belt hung from shoulder to opposite hip.
ban : a king’s power to command or prohibit any action under pain of punishment or death.
banalities : fees which a feudal lord imposed on his serfs for the use of his mill.
barber-surgeon : a monastic who shaved faces and heads and performed light surgery.
barbican : a projecting outwork designed to protect a gateway, outer defensive tower of a castle.
bard : a minstrel poet who glorified the virtues of his people and chieftains.
baron : a vassal who served as a member of the king’s great council.
baselard : thrusting sword with a strong, short, diamond sectioned blade.
basilica : rectangular building used as a meeting hall.
bassinet : visor for a bacinet helmet.
bastard sword : long double-edged sword used single or double handed.
bastion : part of the defenses of a castle standing proud from the wall and giving a good field of coverage for
batter : a sloping thickening at the base of a wall.
battlement : a narrow wall built along the outer edge of a castle’s wall walk to protect the soldiers from attack, also
belfry : a mobile wooden tower used to transfer troops onto a wall.
benefice : a grant of land given to a member of the aristocracy or clergy in exchange for services.
benefit of clergy : a privilege enjoyed by members of the clergy, placing them beyond the jurisdiction of secular
berm : the flat space between a ditch and a wall or between the curtain wall of a castle and the moat.
bezant : gold coin current in Europe in the middle ages, first struck in Byzantium.
bevor : plate protection for the neck and chin forming a complete closure with the helmet.
bill : a pole weapon , based on a hedging tool having a straight blade and one or more hook-like blades.
black monks : common name for members of the Benedictine order, derived from the colour of their habits.
blazon : the technical language for the written description of armoral bearings.
bodger : one who makes rough and ready items from rough hewn timber.
bodice : the close fitting upper part of a woman’s dress usually low-cut.
bodkin : long, sharply pointed arrowhead designed to penetrate mail or plate armour.
bolt : shortened arrows used in arbalests and crossbows, capable of incredible penetration.
book of hours : highly decorated book containing the prayers required for each hour of the day.
bookland : land given by the king and recorded in a book. A perpetual right which could be bequeathed and inherited.
borough : a town granted the right of self-government by royal charter.
bowyer : bow maker.
bracers : plate armour for the arms.
braies : loose drawers or breeches belted or tied with a cord at the waist, the lower end tucked into the hose below the
brazil-wood : a red dye-wood from the east.
breeches : trousers reaching to the knees.
brigandine : light armour, a canvas or leather jacket with small plates of metal stitched inside.
buckler : small round shield carried by infantry to deflect blows, usually worn on the left arm.
burgess : the holder of land or a house within a borough.
burnoose : cloak-like garment with hood woven in one piece, worn by Arabs and Moors.
bushell : eight gallons.
butte : a flatfish.
buttery : storage for wet goods (ale, wine, beer).
buttress : stone support built against a wall.
caltrop : weapon which always presents an upward facing spike to impede men and, particularly, horses.
canonical hours : the church bell was rung eight times at each ‘hour’.
- matins at midnight
- lauds at 3 a.m.
- prime at 6 a.m.
- tierce at 9 a.m.
- sext at noon
- nones at 3 p.m.
- vespers at 6 p.m.
- compline at 9 p.m.
canting arms : arms which are designed as a pun on the name of their bearer.
carbuncle : mythical light-emitting gem.
carucate : as much land as a team can plough in a year.
castle : the Old French chastel was normally a fortified town.
cathedral : the main church in a diocese with the bishop’s see.
cenotaph : a funeral monument where the body is not present.
ceorl (churl) : a freeman who is not a noble.
chainse : a white long-sleeved undertunic of fine linen, in feminine costume it was ground length.
chamberlain : the officer of the royal household responsible for the Chamber, he controlled access to the person of
the king. Also responsible for administering the household and royal estates.
chancellor : the officer of the royal household who served as the monarch’s secretary or notary, responsible for the
chanfron : armour for a horses head.
chansons de geste : ‘songs of deeds’, epic poems composed by troubadours and sung by jongleurs.
charge : generic term for pictorial representations that can be placed on various parts of a shield, such as animals,
plants or objects.
charter of franchise : documents granting liberty to a serf by his lord. or the freedom of servitude to feudal lords,
granted to the inhabitants of a town or borough.
chausses : mail protection for the legs, particularly the thighs.
chivalry : code of ethical behavior for knights, based on truth, integrity and courage.
cinquefoil : heraldry, a stylized flower with five radiating petals or leaves.
circlet : a circular band worn as an ornament on the finger, arm, neck or head.
cobbler : a repairer of footwear as opposed to a maker of footwear.
cocket : the cheapest white wheat bread.
coffer : a chest to keep valuables usually made of metal.
cog : a type of substantial sailing ship.
coif : a linen cap to cover the head; also a close-fitting skull-cap of mail worn under the helmet.
compline : 9 p.m. the seventh and last canonical hour; the service at that time.
constable : the principal officer of the household of a noble or king, army commander, a hundred or a town.
corbel : a stone bracket.
corwainer : maker of fine shoes using soft Cordovan leather.
cottager : a peasant owner of a cottage but little or no land.
count : the continental equivalent of the English Earl, ranked second only to a Duke.
counterscarp : outside slope of a ditch (see scarp).
couter : armour – articulated plate covering the elbow.
cranage : a fee paid for the use of a winch to load or unload a ship.
crenel : the open section of a battlement.
crenellation : a battlement.
crespin : a fine linen cap.
cresset : a projecting stone which is hollowed out to take oil and a wick, cresset lamp.
crest : generic term for the ornaments mounted on helmets.
cudgel : practice sword made of wood.
cuirass : plate armour for the body consisting of breast and backplate, hoops of steel to defend the hips known as
faulds, and tassets to defend the hips.
cuisses : armour – plate covering the upper leg, thigh to knee.
culdees : meaning ‘servant of God’, they were the Irish/Scottish preservers of old Gaelic customs.
curtain wall : a high wall surrounding the inner ward, or the open area in the centre of a castle.
Danish axe : weapon; a long bladed battle-axe.
daub : a mud and clay mixture applied over wattle to strengthen it.
demesne : the manor house and adjoining lands which the lord of the manor kept for his own purposes. Serfs worked
the demesne for a specified number of days.
denarius : English silver penny, hence the abbreviation ‘d’.
dexter : the right hand side of a shield.
dimidiation : in heraldry, the method of impalement in which the dexter half of one coat of arms was joined to the
sinister half of the other.
diocese : a district subject to the jurisdiction of a bishop or archbishop.
distrain : to compel the performance of a duty.
donjon : great tower or keep or lord’s private area.
dosser : ornamental cloth on a chair.
duke : from the Roman ‘dux’, a Duke ruled a district called a duchy. In England the title was reserved for members of
the royal family.
dun : a Scottish single-family hill fort.
earl : the highest title attainable by an English nobleman who was not of royal blood.
Eire : Ireland.
ell : measure of length, 45 inches (114 cm). If Flemish 27 inches (68 cm).
embrasure : the low segment of the alternating high and low segments of a battlement.
enceinte : an area enclosed by castle walls.
escheat : the right of a feudal lord to the return of lands held by his vassal should he either die without lawful heirs or
escutcheon : a small charge in the form of a shield.
essoin : an excuse or exemption, especially from attending court.
essoin rolls : records of the excuses offered for failure to attend court when summoned.
ewer : a jug for pouring water over the hands when washing before and after a meal.
exchequer : financial department of the royal government. The chief officers were the Treasurer, the Chancellor and
the Justiciar. Sheriffs presented reports to the Exchequer at Easter and Michaelmas.
eyre : the right of the king to visit and inspect the holdings of any vassal, usually done at intervals of a few years.
faire : a large market, held once or twice a year licenced by the king, a local lord or chartered town.
falchion : Short, curved single-edged sword with a broad blade.
fauld : Skirt of overlapping lames riveted to leather and protecting the wearer below the waist, usually attached to a
fealty, oath of : the oath by which a vassal swore loyalty to his lord, usually on a religious relic or on the Bible.
feudalism : the system of governing whereby landed nobility had certain responsibilities to the king, in return for the
use of lands (fiefs), worked by the labour of a semi-free peasantry (serfs).
fief : heritable lands held under feudal tenure, or the lands of a Tenant-in-Chief.
field : in heraldry, the surface of a shield on which charges are placed.
fist mace : iron or steel mace shaped like a clenched fist.
flaxen : pale yellow in colour, straw coloured.
fletcher : arrow maker.
fuller : broad groove running down the centre of each side making the sword stronger and lighter.
fyrd : Anglo-Saxon militia. a special ‘King’s Peace’ prevailed while journeying to, from and during Fyrd service.
gabardine : a long, loose overcoat with hanging sleeves, worn by both sexes and of all classes.
gael : a name given to Celtic inhabitants of Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man.
gallery : Old French loges were balconies or open galleries forming vantage points on the upper floors of buildings.
gallon : liquid measure which differed for wine, ale and beer.
gambeson : quilted linen heavy jacket designed to fit under armour, usually with arming points to actually hang
garderobe : a small latrine or toilet built into the thickness of a castle’s wall.
garrett : an attic.
gathering : a collection of pages forming part of a book before binding.
gatlings : small joint defense on a finger gauntlet.
gauntlet : a long leather glove.
gilded : covered with a thin layer of gold-leaf.
gorget : plate armour protecting the throat and neck above the breast plate.
greaves : plate armour covering the lower leg, knee to ankle.
groat : English coin worth 4 pence.
guige : the shoulder strap of shield.
guild : Trade associations formed to protect members from the competition of foreign merchants.
gules : Red in heraldry.
haberden : cod especially salted cod; also haberdine.
halasan : sword with a cylindrical hilt made of horn and no guard.
halberd : spiked battle-axe.
half angel : English gold coin worth 3 shillings and 4 pence.
half groat : English silver coin worth 2 pence.
half noble : English gold coin worth 3 shillings and 4 pence.
half royal : English gold coin worth 5 shillings.
half-timber : common form of medieval construction in which walls were made of a wood frame structure, filled with
wattle and daub (twigs and mud).
ha’penny : English silver coin worth half a penny.
hanop : a two handled drinking cup.
hauberk : mail coat reaching to the knees, the arms ending in mittens, and with a hood.
herce : a frame supporting candles.
heriot : death tax, a tribute or service rendered to a feudal lord on the death of a tenant.
hide : the amount of land needed to support the family of a freeman, or amount of land that could be cultivated by an
eight-ox plow in one year.
hilt : the handle or grip of a sword.
historiated capital : on a manuscript page, an initial letter which contains an illustration within itself.
hoarding : a temporary wooden balcony suspended from the tops of walls and towers and erected before a battle,
from which rocks and arrows could be launched.
homage : a ceremony where a tenant acknowledges his allegiance to his liege lord in return for a grant of land.
honor : a holding, or group of holdings, forming a large estate, such as the land held by an Earl.
hue and cry : the requirement of all members of a village to pursue a criminal with horn and voice.
hundred : an area of land equal to a hundred hides.
hundredweight : measurement of weight; 100 pounds.
illuminator : artist who applied decoration including gold to a manuscript.
impaled : in heraldry, describes a shield divided ‘per pale’ to incorporate the arms of two different families, side by
impleaded : instituted and prosecuted a plea at law.
indenture : a written legal agreement.
inkhorn : the top of a horn used to contain ink or paint.
interdict : the ecclesiastical banning of all sacraments – except for baptism and extreme unction and for sacraments
performed on high feast days. The hardship of interdicts were implemented to enforce the Church’s point of view.
jack : defensive coat, either of several layers or quilted leather or linen, often reinforced with metal studs or small
jerkin : a short, close-fitting jacket, often sleeveless.
jongleur : French wandering minstrels, musicians, acrobats, jugglers and clowns, usually commoners, who
entertained with tales of epic battles and heroes.
jus primae noctis (First Night) : The right by which a lord could sleep with the bride of a newly married serf on the
first night of their marriage.
justiciar : the head of the royal judicial system and the kings viceroy, when the actual viceroy was absent from the
kettle hat : light weight, open-faced helmet, having a conical crown and wide brim.
kirtle : a short skirt worn by women, a long gown or dress worn by women, a long tunic worn by men.
knight : the retainer of a feudal lord who owed military service for his fief. The ideals to which a knight could.phpire
were notably prowess, loyalty, generosity, and courtesy.
knight’s fee : a fief which provided sufficient revenue to equip and support a knight, approximately 1,500 acres.
lames : narrow overlapping plates used to make flexible parts of an armour.
lastage : a fee paid for storage of goods.
liripipe : elongated point of a hood, sometimes extremely elongated.
livery : the provision of food and clothing to retainers: also distinctive clothing worn by retainers.
longbow : Bow made from a single bough of yew and usually the height of the archer plus a fistmeile.
loop : an opening in a castle wall which is wider internally to admit light and for archers to shoot through.
lute : string musical instrument, shaped like half a pear and similar to a guitar, with six to thirteen strings.
machicolation : battlement supported on corbels to allow command of the base of a wall.
mail : from the medieval French word maille meaning net. Interwoven links of iron wire riveted together to form a
defensive metal cloth, highly resistant to slashing.
man-at-arms (yeomen) : a soldier holding his land in exchange for military service.
manor : a small holding, 1,200 to 1,800 acres, with its own court and hall, but not necessarily having a manor house.
mantle : a loose, sleeveless cloak or cape.
mantling : short lengths of cloth, usually in the livery colours, hung from the torse on the helmet as an aid to
identification. This is usually shown as torn and ripped in battle when displayed in heraldry.
march : borderland usually used to refer to the Welsh / English border.
marcher lord : the name commonly given to Norman landholders on the Welsh border.
mark : silver coin, eight ounces of silver worth 2 nobles (or angels) or thirteen shillings and 4 pence.
marquis: lords responsible for guarding border areas known as ‘marches’. In some cases the eldest son of a Duke
was known as a Marquis, also marquess.
maslin : bread made from a mix of rye and wheat.
mazer : silver bound drinking vessel.
mead : alcoholic drink made from fermenting honey and water.
meadow : a vital piece of land for a farming community, always kept in grass to provide hay when mown.
metheglin : spiced or medicated mead, popular in Wales.
melee : a massed combat at a tournament.
mercer : a dealer in cloth and fabrics.
merlon : solid section of a battlement.
messuage : a dwelling house and its adjacent buildings and land used by the household.
minstrel : a poet and singer who lived and traveled off the largess of the aristocracy.
moneyer : a person licenced by the crown to strike coins. He received the dies from the crown and was allowed to
keep 1/240th of money coined for himself.
moat : a ditch either dry or full of water.
motte : a mound of earth.
mural chamber : a vaulted chamber in the thickness of a wall.
mural passage : a passage way in the thickness of a wall.
mural tower : a tower on a curtain wall.
noble : English gold coin worth 6 shillings and 8 pence. also a person of high birth.
nock : a piece of horn at the butt-end of an arrow, having a notch to take the bow-string.
none : ninth hour of the day or 3 p.m.
or : gold in heraldry.
ordeal : a trial in which the accused was given a physical test, usually painful and or dangerous, which could only be
met successfully if he/she was innocent.
pain demain : the finest white bread.
palatinate : in England, a county in which the Tenant-in-Chief exercised powers normally reserved for the king,
including the right to appoint a Justiciar, hold courts of Chancery and Exchequer, and to coin money.
pale : in heraldry, a charge in the form of a broad vertical band in the centre of the shield.
palfrey : horse for ordinary riding, especially for ladies.
palisade : a sturdy wooden defensive wall enclosing a fort.
pannage : a toll on imported cloth.
pantler : one who prepared bread for trenchers and soft bread for sopping up food.
pantry : storage for dry goods, such as bread, spices and table linen.
parapet : the outer wall of a walkway along a main wall.
parchment : the skin of any animal which has been prepared as a writing medium, also vellum.
particolouring : a Medieval system of decoration wherein one half or one quarter of a garment was in one colour and
design and the other(s) were of a different one.
patten : a wood, leather or cork undersole which was strapped under the normal footwear to protect the hose and soft
shoes in wet conditions.
pavage : a toll for the upkeep of the streets paid by visitors.
pavise : large free-standing shield carried by spearmen and used to provide cover for crossbowmen.
peerage : hereditary titles, such as Count, Duke and Earl, often linked to lands, powers, or responsibilities.
pell : a vertical pole designed for sword training.
penknife : small knife to cut and trim quills for writing with.
penny : English silver coin worth 1 penny.
perry : a liqueur made from pears.
pickerel : fish, small pike.
pike : long spear with a small iron head.
pilaster : a shallow pier against a wall to strengthen it.
pipe : barrel containing 105 gallons.
plackart : armour, plate covering the lower torso and overlapping the breastplate.
plate : generic term for armour made from metal plates, articulated at the joints.
ploughland : the amount of land ploughable by a team of eight oxen in a year.
pole : measurement of land. The distance between the back of the plough and the nose of the ox.
poleyn : armour, articulated plate covering the knee.
pommel : knob at the top of a sword-hilt, counterbalancing the weight of the blade.
pontage : a toll paid to cross a bridge.
portcullis : a heavy timber grille that could be raised and lowered between the towers of each gate house.
posset : a drink made from hot milk curdled with wine and sweetened, considered a delicacy.
postern gate : a small rear door or less important gate into a castle.
potell : measure of liquid equal to 4 pints, half a gallon.
praying statue or orant : a funeral statue representing a person praying.
prime : first hour of the day or 6 a.m.
primogeniture : the right of the eldest son to inherit the estate or office of his father.
priory : any religious house administered by a prior or prioress. If the prior was subject to a resident abbot, the house
was called an abbey or monastery.
psaltery : stringed instrument played by plucking.
purpure : purple in heraldry.
quarrel : short square headed bolt or arrow used in a crossbow.
quarter noble : English gold coin worth 1 shilling and 8 pence.
quarter royal : English gold coin worth 2 shillings and 6 pence.
quarterstaff : pole arm weapon which was merely a long wooden pole.
quillions : bar, usually iron, forming the crossguard of a sword or dagger.
quintain : Post for tilting at, often with a pivoting cross-piece to strike the unskilled tilter.
quintel : another term for hundredweight, 100 pounds.
quitclaim : to add or remove someone from the title of property.
rampant : in heraldry, describes quadrupeds, often a lion, shown erect, one paw raised, looking to the dexter.
rampart : a bank of earth.
rebus : a heraldic device that is a pictorial pun on the name of the bearer.
recumbent statue : a funeral statue representing a person lying down.
reeve : the chief magistrate of a town or village or the supervisor of an estate appointed by the lord or elected by the
relic : piece of material such as wood or bone widely associated with a saint and its possible healing powers.
relief : the fee paid by the heir of a deceased person on securing possession of a fief. Tradition determined the amount
rest : ‘Lance in rest’: support holding butt of lance when lowered for charging.
revetted : the side of a ditch which is faced by wood, stone or some other material.
rib : an arch used to support a vault.
riser : raised vein in a sword blade designed to give extra strength when thrusting.
rose window : a large round stained glass window.
rote : stringed instrument played with a bow.
rubricator : specialist artist or scribe whose task it was to apply red to a manuscript.
royal : English coin worth 10 shillings, also rose noble.
sable : black in heraldry.
sallet : an open faced helmet usually favoured by archers.
saltire : a charge in the form of a St Andrew’s cross.
samite : heavy silk material, sometimes interwoven with gold.
sanguine : dark red in heraldry.
scabbard : a sheath or case to hold the blade of a sword or dagger.
scale armour : small rectangular plates of metal, attached to a leather or linen coat, lighter and more flexible than
scarlet : rich woolen material , not necessarily red in colour.
scarp : the side of a ditch.
scribe : a writer, someone who can copy pages of text but not necessarily able to read what he copies.
scriptorium : room or building devoted to the production of manuscripts.
scrivener : a literate scribe, able to write original material.
scutage : money paid by a feudal landowner or holder of a knight’s fee to a lord in lieu of service, especially military
service. Sometimes used as a form of tax.
sendal : a very fine silk.
seneschal : steward or major-domo of a noble household.
serf : a tenant who is not a freeman, a semi-free peasant who worked his lord’s demesne and paid him certain dues
in return for the use of land, including three days labour. The serf went with the land if ownership changed.
sergeant : a servant who accompanied his lord to battle, a horseman of lower status used as light cavalry, or a type
of tenure in service of a non-knightly character who might have carried the lord’s banner.
sheriff (shire-reeve) : chief administrative and judicial officer of a shire. The sheriff collected taxes and forwarded them
on to the exchequer and was responsible for making sure the King’s table was well stocked.
shilling : unit of weight equal to 1/20th of a pound. later English coin worth 1/20th of a pound (monetary).
siege : the military tactic that involved the surrounding and isolation of a castle, town, or army, by another army, until
the trapped forces were starved into submission.
simony : the buying or selling of spiritual things, particularly Church offices, benefice or relics.
sinister : in heraldry, designates the left-hand side of the shield, or the right for the spectator.
small holder : a middle class peasant, farming more land than a cottager but less than a villein. A typical small holder
would have farmed 10 to 20 acres.
snood : a tie or ribbon formerly worn around the hair, especially by young unmarried women. A netlike bag worn at
the back of a woman’s head to hold the hair.
sovereign : English gold coin worth 20 shillings or 1 pound (monetary).
stallage : a fee paid to have a stall at market.
sterling : English silver penny.
steward : the man responsible for running the day-to-day affairs of the castle when the lord was absent.
stomacher : a separate front panel of rich decorative fabric which ended in a point at the waist and was worn on top
of the bodice.
sulong : a measurement of land equal to two hides.
surcoat : long flowing garment worn over armour.
symphonia : a kind of stringed instrument.
tabard : a sleeveless or short-sleeved tunic worn over armour, arms decorated the garment, making it a coat-of-arms.
tallage : a tax levied on boroughs and on the tenants living on royal estates, to help liquidate royal debts.
tapet : a bed cover made of carpet.
targe : round or oval shield used by knights.
tasset : armour-plate hinged from the fauld, overlapping the cuisse and covering the upper leg.
Tenant-in-Chief : a lord or institution (the Church being most common) holding land directly from the king. All Earls
tenne : tawny-brown in heraldry.
tercel : male falcon.
thegn (thane) : a man who ranked below a nobleman but above an ordinary freeman or ceorl (churl).
theriac : potion made with honey.
timbrel : early tambourine.
tincture : the generic term for the heraldic metals, colours and furs.
tithe : one tenth of a persons income given to support the church annually.
tonsure : the rite of shaving the crown of the head of a person joining a monastic order or the secular clergy,
symbolizing admission to the clerical state.
torse : winding of coloured cloth worn around the crown of a helmet, usually livery colours aided identification in war
tourney : mock combat for knights.
treasurer : the chief financial officer of the realm and senior officer of the Exchequer.
trebuchet : siege engine operated by a counterweight.
trencher : large slice of hard bread used as a platter for food.
troubadour : composer of epic poems, such as the Chansons de Geste, and love songs, often sung by minstrels.
tunic : a loose gown like garment worn in ancient Greece and Rome, gathered at the waist, often with a belt.
turret : a small tower rising above and resting on one of the main towers of a castle, used as a look-out point.
usury : interest charged on a loan; a practice forbidden by Church law.
vair : blue-grey and white squirrel fur.
vambrace : armour, upper cannon of plate covering the upper arm, lower cannon of plate covering the forearm.
vassal : a free man holding land under feudal tenure, paying homage and swearing fealty. He owed various services
and obligations, primarily military, but he also advised his lord and paid him the traditional feudal aids required on the
knighting of the lord’s eldest son, the marriage of the lord’s eldest daughter, and the ransoming of the lord should he
be held captive.
vavasour : lesser vassal of another vassal.
vellum : the skin of any animal which has been prepared as a writing medium, also parchment.
ventail : mail protecting the lower part of face and neck.
vert : green in heraldry.
vespers : sixth canonical hour; evening.
vice : a spiral stairway.
vielle : early fiddle.
villein : a freeman tenant farmer, the wealthiest class of peasant, cultivating 20 to 40 acres of land.
virgate : one quarter of a hide.
viscount : the fourth level of peerage, a viscount was a lieutenant or deputy of a count (from vice-count), or the title
of courtesy for the eldest son of an Earl or Marquess.
wall walk : the area along the top of a castle’s walls from which soldiers defended both castle and town.
wardship : the right of a feudal lord to the income of a fief during the minority of its heir. The lord was required to
maintain the fief and to take care of the material needs of the ward. When the ward came of age, the lord was required
to release the fief to him in the same condition in which it was received.
warhammer : pole weapon having a blunt hammer head backed with a spike.
wastel : second best white bread.
wattle : a mat of woven sticks and weeds.
wether : a castrated ram.
wharfage : a fee paid to use the wharf.
wimple : a simple head covering worn by women. a piece of material was draped over the head to the shoulders and
held in place by a band around the brow.