Definition of some of the more unfamiliar words used in the blog. With links to posts which give a definition or comment on the relevant work. Note that some of these definitions are taken from the National Archive.
- Allodial land
Land which you own rather than land which you hold from your feudal superior. In England there is no allodial land as all land is held from the Monarch.
The Angles and Saxons invaded and settled in Britain in the 5th century. In 1066 England (named after the Angles) was ruled by two Anglo-Saxon Kings, Edward the Confessor, who died in January, and Harold II, who was defeated by William Duke of Normandy in October.
A French measurement used in Domesday in relation to the vineyards.
Has several meanings including a itinerant court delivering local justice and a type of writ
Unfree peasant with less land than villans.
An urban dwelling often fortified. Many had markets. The borough courts which were attended by the burgesses often had their own customs which are recorded in Domesday Book.
Bretons from Brittany in northern France formed part of Duke William’s invasion army in 1066 and many later settled in England.
An urban dweller, usually from the upper section of townsmen, whose tenure was based on a financial payment.
- Cartae Baronum (Barons charter)
The written responses to a survey carried out by Henry II in 1166 with his tenants in chief relating to Knights service. It forms part of the Exchequer records. See >> this post.
A standard unit of assessment in the 11th century sometimes used for tax purposes in northern England, where Danish law prevailed, instead of the hide (See “Hide”).
- Circuit (Doomsday)
One of the seven or more regions into which England was divided for the purposes of collecting information for the Domesday survey. They consisted of two or more counties and were assigned high-ranking officials known as commissioners from outside the circuit to collect and verify the information gathered. The resulting record from each circuit is known as a circuit summary.
In publishing, text, typically at the end of a book providing details of book production, such as dates, typefaces used, and so on. The colophon in Little Domesday details the date of its completion, the year of the King’s reign and county coverage.
Descriptive title given to William King of England and Duke of Normandy following his conquest of England.
Unfree peasant with fewer lands than villans. Also called cottagers.
Part of the manor either kept by the lord in his own hands or farmed for his own profit. See also this post on >> the Kings Demesne.
Where someone is dispossessed of a feudal holding
When the land reverts to the feudal lord, generally through the tenant dying without heirs, or because he is convicted of a felony. Read more >> here.
This was the name for the visitation by the Kings justices to deliver local justice. Read more >> here.
Term given much later to the medieval system of land tenure in which the King or a baron gave land and protection to his tenants in return for their loyalty and specific services, principally military. See also this post on >> the Estates of Man in Norman England.
Land granted in return for military service. Also called fee.
A man who was free and might hold land but who owed some services to his lord. See also socage.
Anglo-Saxon land tax continued by the Normans. It was assessed on the number of hides.
The right of the lord to take the best beast or chattel on the death of the tenant. This was not a universal right and was more common where the tenant was unfree. One of the >> feudal incidents.
The standard unit of assessment used for tax purposes. It was meant to represent the amount of land that could support a household, roughly 120 acres. There were four virgates to every hide.
A sub-division of the shire (or county) used for administrative purposes. Known in the northern England (where Danish law and customs prevailed) as wapentake.
A military retainer, usually a heavily armed and trained cavalryman.
- Knight Service
This was one of the feudal tenure types, where the tenant had to provide one mounted soldior for every ‘knights fee’ he held.
An estate or unit of lordship, varying in size. The Domesday survey was based on the manor and not the parish. See also the post >> Lord of the Manor
A province in northern France ruled as a duchy. In 1066 William Duke of Normandy defeated the Anglo-Saxon King, Harold, and became King of England, thus forming the Anglo-Norman realm.
A form of payment for pasturing pigs or the feed given to pigs in autumn.
- Petty Assizes
Forms of legal action developed in the reign of Henry II involving the use of a Jury to make decisions rather than ordeals. See more >> here .
When Domesday refers to number of ploughs it is referring to the taxable amount of land that can be ploughed by a team of eight oxen. Thus, land ‘for half a plough’ (or ‘for four oxen’) means half a plough land.
- Premier Seisin
Where the lord is entitled to the profits of land after the tenant dies. See more >> here.
- Public record
Record created by government in the normal course of its business.
A riding servant whose services included riding escort to lord.
Six administrative sub-divisions of Sussex, each with castle and lord, all considered to be of strategic importance on the south coast.
What someone has if they are in possession of land as a feudal tenant. Taking >> seisin involved taking homage from the person or lord who holds the superior title.
Freeman who nevertheless had to attend their lord’s court. Term in use in Norman England.
Man or woman who was the property of his or her lord and had no lands.
Initially in Norman times, this was where the duties were fixed, for example helping the lord with sowing or reaping at certain times of the year. However, Socage eventually became the term for all free tenure
The King’s principal barons and churchmen who held land directly from him. Also known as the Barons
The order of nobility in Anglo-Saxon England before the Conquest was earl, King’s thegn and median thegn.
Abbreviation used in Domesday Book for tempore regis Edwardi, ‘at the time of King Edward’. When William wanted to know who owned the manor immediately before he became King he referred to the reign of King Edward. Harold, who succeeded Edward as King in January 1066 and was defeated by William in October 1066 is nearly always referred to as ‘earl’ Harold in Domesday – his reign being airbrushed out of history by the scribe.
An unfree peasant who owed his lord labour services (two or three days per week) but who also farmed land for himself. Villans were the wealthiest and most numerous of unfree peasants. Also called villains or villeins.
A virgate was a measure of land used in medieval England. It was held to be the amount of land that a team of two oxen could plough in a single annual season. It was equivalent to a quarter of a hide, so was nominally thirty acres.
The writ is a document which starts a claim in the Kings Courts.