Glossary of Terms Used in Feudalism

Medieval Studies 20B

Term Meaning
aiddues owed by the tenants to their new lord when the old lord had died or retired (to help the lord with the "relief" [see below] that he must pay)
allodholding a land free of feudal obligations
assizesA special court called to determine, generally, guilt or innocence, but most often used to determine the rightful owner of property.
baillisroyal officers charged with administering a disctrict in the name of the lord
cottertenant on a manor having a cottage ("cot")
croftan area of land adjacent to a cottage, which could be independently farmed
demesnethe lord's domain; land that he possesses outright, as opposed to the land that he leases to tenants
fealtyfaith [Latin, fidelitas], fidelity to the lord
fief (fee)a reward (or "benefice"), a grant of land or office offered in return for support and service
heriotthe duty owed the lord on the death of a tenant (like relief)
hideapproximately the amount of land needed to feed a family (between 40 and 125 acres, by account usually 120)
homage"promise to keep faith" [from homo, homme, to become someone's man]
liege lord who was entitled to receive primary service (compare "allegiance")
manorusually a village, a fief of a lord
markthirteen shillings, four pence (160 d.) [8 ounces of silver]
messuagea section of land surrounding the manor house, containing outbuildings
novel disseisinAction concerning "recent dispossession" of land unjustly and without judgement.
penny [1 d.]a 240th of a 12-ounce pound of silver (Troy == 1 pennyweight)
pound [1 l.]12 ounces of silver (Troy)
precipe in capitea court trial ("action") to determine who has a right to the land: hence, an "Action of Right".
reevethe manager of a manor in the land holder's absence
reliefdues owed to the overlord when a vassal dies or retires
revenue farmerscollectors of rent; the right was "farmed" out to them
rodone quarter acre (35 yards by 35 yards)
"sake and soke"a basic right of the lowest freeholder (as opposed to a serf, who was tied to the land)
seisen possession (but not ownership) of land; the exercise and enjoyment of rights deriving from possession, usually of land, held as a freehold (but not as a serf's tenure). To be "in seisin" was to be "seized of" control of such an estate or other freehold rights. Livery of seisin (i.e., the delivery of seisin by a lord) was usually by some symbolic act. To be disseised was to be ousted from seisin.
sergeanta king's officer, with military duties
shilling [1 s.]one twentieth of a pound of silver (Troy); also a unit of weight [== 3/5 ounce]
tallagetoll paid the lord
tenancy-in-chieftenure directly under the overlord, in this case, the King
tenureusing [from tenire, to hold] land or an office
vassalone who holds a fief (Latin, vassus == servant")
villtownship, manor
villeinvillager, with more land than a cottager
virgateone fifth of a hide