ABBEY (see MONASTERY)
remission of and forgiveness for sins, granted by a priest through the sacrament of penance. Some sins or penalties for sins (Excommunication) could not be absolved by just any priest. A bishop or the pope might reserve the power to absolve someone from a sin or its engendered penalty to himself or a superior.
ADVOWSON (see PRESENTATION)
ALBIGENSIANS (see CATHARS)
land held outside of feudal tenure, i.e., land which was owned rather than land which was simply possessed. By the eleventh century, it was commonly held that there were no allodial lands in the French Kingdom. After the Norman conquest, allodial lands in England were all declared to be held in feudal tenure so that, apart from some lands held by the Church, the crown was the "owner" of all land. Allodial lands have a much greater role in Germany where, during the chaos of the late ninth and early tenth centuries the five great Dukes and a number of other powerful families were successful in asserting allodial right over a significant portion of their lands.
A financial penalty inflicted at the mercy of the king or his justices for various minor offenses. The offender is said to be amerced and the monies paid to the crown to settle the matter are called an amercement (See also FINE).
ANAGOGY (adjective: ANAGOGICAL)
A condemnation of heretics, similar in effect to major excommunication. Anathema engenders complete exclusion from Christian society.
The term used to describe one who leaves religious orders after making solemn profession. Apostasy was considered a serious crime in the eyes of the church, being not only a breach of faith with God but also with the founders and benefactors of their religious house.
the theory that every bishop of the catholic church derives his authority from one of the twelve apostles.
ARCHBISHOP (in the Early Middle Ages, aka Metropolitan)
an ecclesiastical official having the same sacramental powers of any BISHOP but greater jurisdiction. The Archbishop's SEE encompasses the sees of a number of bishops, though he would also have an episcopal SEE unto himself.
a heretical teaching concerning the nature of Christ invented by Arius of Alexandria in the early fourth century. Arianism held that Christ was not divine, but was a supremely powerful created being. Arianism was condemned at the council of Nicaea (325) but was not finally defeated in the east until the end of the century. Arianism lingered in the West for some time beyond this.
term for a faction of the French nobility led by the house of Orleans during the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.
The ruling family in Hungary prior to 1301. When their family failed to have a son sit on the Hungarian throne, a new family was sought. The Arpads ruled for three hundred years.
A measure of land roughly equal to a modern acre; often used to measure vinelands.
English term for turning woodlands into pasture or cropland. To assart without license was a serious offense.
a word with several meanings, usually refers to a meeting of feudal vassals with the king or the decree(s) issued by the king after such a meeting. Assize could also refer to a legal action or remedy. King Henry II (d.1189) created a series of assizes for settling disputes concerning possessory rights which were invoked by writs of the same name (see WRIT). Henry also issued the Grand Assize which created an alternate mechanism of settling disputes through judgment by peers rather than trial by combat. The Assizes of Clarendon (1166) established juries of presentment as a mechanism for applying Royal jurisdiction to criminal law (see JURY).
The right for a Bishop to protect an fugitive from justice or to intercede on his behalf. Once asylum is granted the fugitive cannot be removed, until after a months time. Fugitives who find Asylum must pledge an oath of abjuration never to return to the realm, after which they are free to find passage to the borders of the realm by the fastest way. If found within the borders after a months time they may be hunted down as before with no right of asylum to be granted ever again.
The period between 1305 and 1378 when the papal court resided in Avignon. The influence of the French monarchy on the papacy was resented by other nations and papal power declined throughout the rest of Europe during this time.
title of a royal administrative official in Norman lands in the eleventh century and in Northern France from the twelfth century on. The French Baille was at first a special delegate -- essentially an itinerant judge -- acting under the authority of the SENESCHAL. But by the thirteenth century, the Baille was a territorial administrator with authority over the PREVOTS in his territory.
A King's power to command and prohibit under pain of punishment or death, mainly used because of a break in the King's Peace. Also a royal proclamation, either of a call to arms, or a decree of outlawry. In clerical terms, an excommunication on condemnation by the church.
Fees which a feudal lord imposes on his serfs for the use of his mill, oven, wine press, or similar facilities. It some times includes part of a fish catch or the proceeds from a rabbit warren.
A vassal who holds directly from the crown and serves as a member of the king's great council. It is not a title per se, but rather a description of the Tenants in Chief class of nobility.
BEGHARDS & BEGUINES
Terms for male and female lay-religious associations connected with the mendicant FRIARS of the Later Middle Ages. Although B&B's did not take vows, they did endeavor to live a communal, apostolic life and they engaged in various charitable acts. The B&B's
were subject to persecution for their involvement with various heretical groups such as the FRATICELLI and the Free Spirit movement.
The largest of the monastic orders; founded by St. Benedict (d.547) and regulated by the rule he wrote (see MONKS).
BENEFICE (lat. beneficium)
A general term for grant of land or a stipend given to a member of the aristocracy, a Bishop, or a monastery, for limited or hereditary use in exchange for services. In ecclesiastic terms, a benefice is a church office that returns revenue. A prebend, for example, is a modest benefice given a priest or other member of the parish clergy. The papacy assumed ever greater control over the distribution (collatio
) of ecclesiastical benefices from the late twelfth to the early fourteenth century. See also FIEF.
BENEFIT OF CLERGY
A privilege enjoyed by members of the clergy, including tonsured clerks, placing them beyond the jurisdiction of secular courts. Any cleric was entitled to have any legal proceeding involving himself to be heard in a Church court. This was good for the cleric because he might expect a more favorable result in disputes against lay-persons in a church court and because the penalties which church courts could impose were usually far lighter than those of the civil courts. Over the High and Later Middle Ages, this situation changed.
higher ecclesiastical order, the bishops were the teachers of doctrine. Bishops held jurisdiction over a SEE or diocese encompassing a number of Parishes. Within his SEE a bishop ordains priests, is judge over his flock and his priests, confirms christians into the faith, and holds all the other sacramental powers of any priest. In the early Church, bishops were chosen "by clergy and people". Through the Early Middle Ages, secular lords in Western Europe gained the power of naming and even investing bishops. The Investiture Contest re-established the principle of the election of bishops, although participation was limited to the clergy of the cathedral chapter. During the Later Middle Ages, the papacy arrogated to itself the power to name almost all the bishops in Christendom.
refers to the initial, devastating outbreak of bubonic plague which swept across Europe like a wave moving from south to north from 1348-50. This wave caused the death of around one-third of the population over that time, though effects in particular localities varied considerably. The bubonic plague became generally known as the black plague.
BRETHREN OF THE COMMON LIFE
A lay religious organization founded by Gerhard Groote in the Netherlands in the fourteenth century. Originally organized to remedy the lack of Scriptural writings in local languages, the Brethren set out to translate Greek and Latin sources, following the monastic rule of Saint Augustine of Hippo. They placed all their personal goods into a common holding and lived simple lives of everyday piety devoted to translation and teaching. Their ideas of individual spirituality and the sanctity of daily life were encompassed in the devotio moderna.
an important letter or decree determining some issue, so-named for the heavy leaden seal affixed at the bottom (lat. bullus
A modern term for the notion that the emperor holds supreme spiritual as well as temporal power. The Byzantine Empire was Caesaropapist. Caesaropapism was a rare position in the Medieval West, although some scholars believe that Charlemagne acted as a Caesaropapist, even though he never enunciated a theoretical justification for doing so.
1) an enactment by an ecclesiastical council; or 2) member of the chapter of a cathedral, collegiate church, or of certain religious orders. Just as with MONKS and FRIARS, some canons were identified by distinctive habit; for example, the Augustinian canons were known as the Black Canons.
originally, a term applied to the CLERGY in and around Rome. By the mid-eleventh century, reforming popes appointed like-minded colleagues to these positions and relied upon their counsel and assistance in carrying out reform. By the late eleventh century, the cardinals gained the exclusive right in canon law of electing the Pope. Thereafter, the "College of Cardinals" became an ever more prestigious body of administrators and counselors that supervised the administration of the papal CURIA and from which popes were chosen.
CATHARS (aka Albigensians)
a heretical group that flourished from the mid-twelfth to the mid-thirteenth century in Southern France and Northern Italy. The Cathars believed in a form of MANICHEANISM, holding that there were two supreme powers corresponding to Good and Evil, Light and Dark, Spirit and Matter. The Cathars were highly critical of the Church, among other reasons because it appeared to them to have sold out to Materialism. The Cathars were divided into believers and the perfecti, a sort of clergy whose status was granted by a laying-on of hands ritual after a period of prayer and fasting. By the end of the thirteenth century, the perfecti had developed a hierarchical organization; however, the Cathars as a whole began to splinter into various factions. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) encouraged efforts at reconversion of the Cathars to orthodox Christianity, above all by the Franciscans and Dominicans. He also attempted to induce French Nobles and the King of France to conquer the lords of Southern France who tolerated and protected the Cathars. From 1209-1228, crusade privileges were offered to knights who followed up on this policy. This "Albigensian Crusade" resulted in the expansion of French Royal power into Southern France. Thereafter, for several decades inquisitors endeavored to ferret out and "re-educate" Cathars from Languedoc west into the Pyrenees.
A bishop's church, named for his chair (from the Greek word for "chair," latinized as "cathedra")
An officer of the royal household. He is responsible for the Chamber, meaning that he controls access to the person of the King. He is also responsible for administration of the household and the privates estates of the king. The Chamberlain is one of the four main officers of the court, the others being the CHANCELLOR, the JUSTICIAR, and the TREASURER.
The officer of the English royal household who supervised the monarch's secretarial or notarial service. The chancellor was responsible for the Chancery, the arm of the royal government dealing with legal and foreign affairs. Usually the person filling this office was a Bishop chosen for his knowledge of the law.
the term for a military raid of destruction such as was commonly launched by the the English during the Hundred Years' War.
literally the code of behavior of knights (Fr. chevalier). Twelfth-century romance-writers (esp. French) posited a moral and social code of conduct of knights based on piety, courage, honor, and service. The spread of chivalry was concomitant with the conscious professionalization of knighthood from the late eleventh century. One can view the development of chivalry as the civilizing aspect of this process (see COURTLY LOVE). The civilizing features of chivalry were more celebrated, but more slowly realized than chivalric concepts respecting performance on the battlefield.
CIOMPI REBELLION (1378)
The Ciompi Rebellion in Florence in 1378 was an attempt by day-labourers and shop owners, mostly in the textile trades, and others of the popolo minuto to achieve a political voice. The goal of the uprising was to address inequalities rather than a complete upheaval of the constitution and the new regime was successful for three years. Three new guilds were created and the committee of priors was adjusted. Although the popolo grosso eventually regained power in 1381, Florentine politics would continue to be influenced by the idea of popular uprisings.
the people who hold positions in the Church. According to the traditions of the Catholic Church the clergy are a visible order, distinguished from the rest of society by their appearance and their lifestyle (see TONSURE). The clergy enjoyed a variety of privileges and immunities dating from the later Roman empire, but some of these were contested by secular rulers; this basic tension between the secular and the ecclesiastical was a fundamental theme of medieval thought and politics. The clergy may roughly be divided into two groups: the secular clergy are made up of the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, parish Priests and many other, lesser officers whose function is to minister to the laity and to coordinate the operation of that ministry, and the regular clergy who have decided to devote their lives to religious works by living according to a certain rule (regular means "ruled" in Latin). Regular clergy include MONKS and FRIARS. Most monks were not priests.The principal benefit of clerical status was immunity from civil jurisdiction. (See BENEFIT OF CLERGY)
By the twelfth century some hybrid clerics began to appear. regular canons, for example were canons (that means they were the clerics of a cathedral church) who decided to adopt a rule like monks. By the mid-twelfth century, it was also established that scholars and students were part of the clergy, entitled to the same privileges and immunities as all other clergymen.
term for municipal governments which asserted autonomy from feudal lords and even regional powers in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The communes were representative bodies, but usually of a limited segment of the population. The struggle of the Communes for autonomy was riven by internal conflicts between clan groups and social classes. Venice, Pisa, and Genoa formed the first Communes in the later twelfth century. Thereafter, Communes appeared in Southern France, Flanders, and Northern Germany.
CONCILIARISM (The Conciliar Movement or Theory)
Although not a new concept, the idea of an ecclesiastical council being the ultimate Church authority, instead of the pope, reached its zenith at the Councils of Constance and Basel. The successful resolution of the Great Schism at Constance encouraged many ecclesiastical and lay reformers to consider that the process should continue as a check on papal abuse of power. Pope Martin V, who had supported conciliarism as a cardinal, was nevertheless firmly against any intrusion into his authority once he had been elected pope. He quickly entered into treaties with secular rulers that effectively removed royal support from the conciliarists and the dissension between radical reformers and those desiring a more moderate approach signalled the failure of the Conciliar Movement. The attempt to depose Pope Eugenius IV (1431-1447) and elect a new anti-pope, Felix V (1439-1449) reeked of the Great Schism and the conciliarist cause was abandoned.
CONDEMNATIONS OF 1277
Stephen, the bishop of Paris, issued a list of question that were forbidden as topics of educational debate at the University of Paris. Most of the questions reflected on the omnipotence of God.
The condottieri were the commanders or captains of mercenary troops hired by cities and towns to provide military support during times of war. Often, after the conflict had been resolved, these troops themselves could become a problem as frightened citizens tried to appease their appetites until another war and lucrative wages called them away.
The public or private acknowledgment of sinfulness regarded as necessary to obtain remission and forgiveness through the sacrament of Penance.
Devotional organizations formed by lay members as a response to the crises encountered in the late Middle Ages. The hardships caused by persistent warfare, plagues and famines were thought to be divine retribution for the sinfulness of mankind. There were two main types of confraternity although the many groups displayed characteristics of both. One type, the laudesi, sought to assuage the wrath of God by praise and worship through songs and hymns. The other type of confraternity, the disciplinati, was more dramatic, engaging in public and private demonstrations of penance such as flagellation in an endeavour to pay for the sins of all.
The title of an officer given command of an army or an important garrison. Also the officer who commands in the king's absence.
The rural nobility of the countryside (contado) in Italy.
The countryside surrounding an urban centre in Italy.
the stubborn or willful disobedience of one's lord. The guilty party would forfeit their fief and, at times, even be excommunicated.
a term used for the majority of Franciscan FRIARS who accepted a compromise over St. Francis's injunctions against wealth. The conventuals lived in convents and possessed (though they claimed not to own) property which they could use.
The representational assemblies of Portugal and Spain composed of the aristocracy, the Church, and the common people. Similar to the English Parliament, the weakness of the Iberian monarchies allowed the Cortes to exercise a significant degree of power until the late Middle Ages.
labor service which could be attached to land or to a person. In feudal terms, corvee could apply to the requirement that a serf work on his lord's DEMESNE, clear forest land, or maintain the roads. The royal corvee, which was a source of irritation in the eighteenth century originated in the seventeenth century.
The study ot the origins of the universe. The theories of earlier pagan philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, stood in opposition to the Creationist theory of the Christian Church and posed problems for medieval philosophers attempting to study the universe. Although many aspects of pagan philosophy were utilized, medieval scholars had to exercise caution that their work with these aspects did not bring them into conflict with established Christian doctrine.
Council of Basel
Called by Pope Martin V in 1431, the council deteriorated when Martin's successor, Pope Eugenius IV, moved it to Ferrara in 1437. Radical conciliarists remained in Basel and their attempt to depose Eugenius and elect an anti-pope, Felix V, spelled the end of the conciliarist movement.
Council of Constance
Summoned in 1414 to end the Great Schism, the Council of Constance concluded in 1418, having selected a single pope and deposed the antipopes, confirmed conciliar supremacy, set the date for the next great Church council and condemned and burned Jan Hus as a heretic.
The continental equivalent of the English Earl. Ranks second only to Duke.
a nineteenth-century term for the some of the love-relationships treated in medieval Romance literature. The sources for Courtly Love are above all the Lancelot of Chretien des Troyes and a work titled De amore by Andreas Capellanus, both from the late twelfth century. The English scholar C.S. Lewis noted four defining features of Courtly Love: Courtesy, Adultery, Humility, and the Religion of Love. There is a serious question as to whether Courtly Love was more than a literary topos. Courtly love would have been contrary to the accepted norms of medieval society. Given that there was no substantive discussion of Courtly Love in legal or theological texts, it seems difficult to suport the notion that it was more than a Literary theme.
a court: either a judicial body or simply an entourage about a ruler.
CUSTOM (lat. Consuetudo, Mos)
In medieval law, custom held an important albeit amorphous place. Germanic legal traditions held that custom was the vehicle for the expression of law. Later Roman law accepted that custom was an interpreter of law and might be able to abrogate law through non-observance. As positive legal ideas became more important from the twelfth century, custom was gradually degraded in fact in favor of legislation. Nevertheless jurists continued to enunciate the old platitudes about the legal efficacy of custom.
A tax collected first at the end of the tenth century by the Anglo-Saxon monarch to provide tribute for the Danes (Dane Gold). Anglo-Saxon and Norman kings continued to levy the Danegeld occasionally until the mid-twelfth century.
about half of England, northeast of a line from the Thames to Chester that was conceded to Danish authority and Danish law by Alfred the Great of Wessex in a treaty with Guthram of Denmark signed in 885. Alfred's heirs completed the conquest of the Danelaw in the mid-tenth century.
The period in western Europe between the fall of the Roman Empire and the high Middle Ages, c. ad 5001100, during which Germanic tribes swept through Europe and North Africa, often attacking and destroying towns and settlements.
The French term given to the heir apparent to the throne.
DECLARATION OF RENSE (1338)
A formal declaration by the German princes that proclaimed that the German king would be elected by the princes and did not require papal sanction for validity.
A papal letter written to resolve a legal issue. By the mid-twelfth century it was accepted that decretals made law. Papal legislation in canon law in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was embodied in a series of decretal compilations.
common name for Gratian's, Concordance of Discordant Canons, a private collection of texts (extracts from conciliar canons, papal letters, patristic writings, etc.) with comments on reconciling conflicts of interpretation by Gratian himself. The Decretum was the first enduring work of Medieval Canon Law (1140).
The part of the lord's manorial lands reserved for his own use and not allocated to his SERFS or freehold tenants. Serfs work the demesne for a specified numbers of days per week. The demesne could either be scattered among the serf's land, or a separate area, the latter being more common for meadow and orchard lands.
In Platonism, the demiurge was the creator of the universe. Although Plato did not see the demiurge as a specific deity, Medieval Christian scholars equated the demiurge with God.
The English silver penny, hence the abbreviation d and the coin most common circulation.
The style of everyday piety, charity and scriptural study practised by the Brethren of the Common Life.
DIALECTIC (or logic)
one of the three subjects of the Trivium (see LIBERAL ARTS, SEVEN). This discipline was essentially a prescribed form of reasoning. Dialectic was developed into a formulaic method of academic inquiry first by Peter Abelard in the early twelfth century. This was called SCHOLASTICISM or the scholastic method.
DIOCESE (see SEE)
DISSEISEN (See SEISEN)
a heresy of the fourth century principally, although donatist ideas recurred in the Later Middle Ages. Donatus was a North African priest who condemned christians for minimally cooperating with Roman authorities. Essentially, Donatus asserted that a morally unfit priest could not perform his office and deliver grace through the sacraments. This heresy was attacked by Augustine among others who argued that the office and the person could be distinguished. Donatist ideas recurred in the Later Middle Ages when the moral character of the clergy was increasingly criticized.
Combined monastery for men and women separated by gender. Ruled by either an abbot or abbess.
DOUBLE TRUTH (see LATIN AVVERROISTS)
DROIT DE SEIGNEUR (see IUS PRIMAE NOCTE)
In the realm of political theory, dualism is a modern label applied to many medieval thinkers in regard to their view of the relationship of secular (temporal) and spiritual power. The "original" dualist was Pope Gelasius who first divided authority between the spiritual and the secular. Almost all medieval "political" thinkers were dualist in some degree, at the least by separating the ordinary exercise of the two powers. In the realm of theology, dualism is a belief in the existence of two supreme powers. Manicheanism was the first important dualist faith of the ancient world. The CATHARS of the High Middle Ages were also dualists.
A title from the Roman Dux, which has been held over from roman time by the ruler of a district called a duchy. In England the title is reserved for members of the royal family.
The highest title attainable by an English nobleman who is not of royal blood. Also known in earlier times as Ealdorman. Word related to Jarl.
ENGLISH PEASANTS' WAR [aka Wat Tyler's Rebellion] (1381)
in England was a full-scale rebellion that occurred in reaction to the corruption of the regency government that followed the death of Edward III. The government's ineffectiveness in curbing the more extreme excesses of the merchants and nobles against the peasants during the Black Death also contributed to the revolt. The rebels called on the young king, Richard II, to take control of the government and protect the lower classes from the nobility and from the selfish rule of the regency. Some aristocrats were murdered and there was widespread destruction of property, particularly that belonging to the nobility. When a mob marched on London, King Richard courageously went into its midst in order to hear the people's complaints. One of the rebel leaders, Wat Tyler, tried to kill the king, but was himself slain. Shortly thereafter, the rebels dispersed and the nobles joined the other propertied classes in brutal retaliation against the rebels.
The right of a feudal lord to the return of lands held by his vassal, or the holding of a serf, should either die with out lawful heirs or suffer outlawry.
The national representative body in France, its members were from the three classes, or estates: the clergy, the nobility, and the so-called working class. First convened by Philip IV in 1302, its basic function was to confirm tax levies. At its most powerful in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, its authority declined as the crown developed independent sources of revenue. The Estates General never met on a regular basis and it did not meet at all between 1614 and 1789, when it reconvened on the eve of the French Revolution.
The financial department of the English royal government from the reign of Henry I onwards. The chief officers of the Exchequer was the TREASURER. SHERIFFS, in their role as regional chief accountants, present reports to the exchequer at Easter and Michaelmas. An upper exchequer made up of the TREASURER, CHANCELLOR, JUSTICIAR, and several important barons met occasionally to audit the activities of the lower exchequer or exchequer of receipt. The name, exchequer, derives from the checked cloth which covered the desk of the Treasurer of the Exchequer when he received monies from the SHERIFFS and other officials.
Exclusion from the membership of the church or from communion with faithful Christians. Those judged "tolerati" (subject to minor excommunication) could still mingle with the faithful, but those judged "vitandi" (subject to major excommunication) were to be utterly shunned.
EYRE, JUSTICES IN
Itinerant Justices who journeyed around England to hear various cases under Royal jurisdiction from the reign of Henry I well into the Plantagenet period.
A market held at regular intervals, usually once to twice a year. Fairs tend to offer a wider range of goods than normal markets. They are generally licensed by either the king, a local lord, or a chartered town.
A fixed sum, usually paid annually, for the right to collect all revenues from land; in effect, rent. Lords may farm land to vassals, receiving a fixed annual rent in place of the normal feudal obligation. Many sheriffs farm out their shires, contracting in advance to pay a fixed annual sum to the crown, thus obtaining the right to collect any additional royal revenues for their own profit.
FEALTY (See HOMAGE AND FEALTY)
monetary payments which VASSALs were often required to make to their lord under certain circumstances. The most common of these were, the knighting of the lord's son, the marriage of his daughter, ransom for a captive lord, and -- later -- the lord going on crusade when the VASSAL did not.
FEUDALISM (the F-word)
A political system defined by the decentralization of governmental responsibilities into the hands of individuals who are bound to the center by personal commitments (the oaths of HOMAGE AND FEALTY). Over the course of the European Middle Ages, Feudalism took many forms. A simple or flat form of feudalism existed in the Carolingian period where all lands were held by the VASSALS of the King/Emperor. In the wake of the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire, power coalesced at many more levels so that an individual knight might be three or four lords removed from the King.
FIEF (lat. feudum )
a term for lands possessed under feudal tenure; normally held by the VASSAL of a lord in return for stipulated obligations, esp. military service. A fief could also be a monetary stipend (see FIEF-RENTE) or even an office. By the eleventh century, fiefs were held to be heritable, although the inheritor was obligated to pay RELIEF to the lord in exchange for his recognition of the succession. The vassal and fief-holder held varied jurisdictional rights in his fief, from simple police power to full responsibility to see that justice was done. The precise nature of obligations and jurisdictional rights pertaining to a fief varied from region to region and over time. A fief could be called a holding. In English parlance, a fief that was expected to support one knight was called a Knight's Fee.
French term for FIEFs granted in money -- a specified revenue source or sum -- rather than in land. The number of Fiefs-Rente grew in the twelfth and early-thirteenth centuries. It declined just as rapidly thereafter in favor of contracts for military service without feudal bonds.
A sum of money paid to the Crown to obtain some grant, concession, or privilege. Unlike AMERCEMENT, a fine is not a monetary penalty, although failure to offer and pay a customary fine for some right, will undoubtedly lead to an amercement.
FORMARRIAGE (aka merchet)
The sum commonly paid by a serf to his lord when the serf's daughter marries a man from another manor.
FOUAGE (see TAILLE/TALLAGE)
The legal condition under which each male member of a tithing (district) over the age of twelve is responsible for the good conduct of all other members of the tithing.
a name given to the radical, spiritual Franciscans (see CONVENTUAL, FRIARS) who refused to accept Pope John XXII's repudiation of the doctrine of poverty and the usus facti. The Fraticelli attacked this pope as a heretic, but were themselves branded as heretics. Many of the Fraticelli were imprisoned and perhaps a hundred of the Fraticelli were burned to death.
literally "brothers." The term friar refers to a number of new religious orders founded in the thirteenth century which emphasized poverty and an apostolic lifestyle. The friars were unlike MONKS in that they did not seek escape from the corruption of the world by retreat into a MONASTERY, but resided in cities and engaged the world on its own terms. Some friars engaged in (moral) preaching, teaching, and undertook other service functions. The papacy employed friars, esp. Dominicans, as inquisitors over the course of the Later Middle Ages. The most important friars were the Grey Friars (Franciscans), the Black Friars (Dominicans), and the White Friars (Carmelites).
taxes imposed by the French Monarchy first in the late thirteenth century on the sale of a variety of goods. The most lucrative of these was the gabelle on salt instituted in the mid-fourteenth century. This gabelle was the only one which continued past the fourteenth century and up to the French Revolution.
A title given to Islamic warriors who distinguished themselves as conquerors of unbelievers, the gazis acquired wealth and property on the frontiers of Islam, becoming the local nobility.
a genre of scholarly writing which originated in the late eleventh century. The gloss was a comment on a word or a phrase: it might merely offer a reference or a definition, or it could include a lengthy discussion. Over the course of the twelfth and early thirteenth century, the number and length of glosses in the margins of books of law, theology, and other disciplines grew substantially. The method of gloss-writing was closely tied to pedagogical methods at the emergent UNIVERSITIES by which scholars would read the text aloud to a class and then offer observations, written as glosses, on the words of the text. By the mid-thirteenth century, standard glosses for the books of civil law, canon law, the bible and so on were well established (each called the Ordinary Gloss to the respective work). Accursius wrote the Ordinary Gloss on the Corpus iuris civilis, the great codification of Roman law made at the direction of Justinian. Johannes Teutonicus and Bartholomeus Brixiensis wrote the Ordinary Gloss to Gratian's Decretum. Bernardus Parmensis wrote the Ordinary Gloss to the Decretals of Gregory IX.
A term for the medieval jurists who wrote glosses on the Roman law up to the completion of the Ordinary Gloss by Accursius. These include Irnerius, the Four Doctors (Martinus, Bulgarus, Jacobus, and Ugo), Rogerius, Placentinus, Johannes Bassianus, and Azo.
GOLDEN BULL OF 1356
Prior to 1356, the rules governing the election of Holy Roman Emperors had not been clearly defined. Disputes over electoral rights increased as princely houses were divided among heirs. The Golden Bull, issued by Charles IV in 1356, stated that henceforth only seven electors were to choose the emperor: the archbishops of Cologne, Trier and Mainz, the king of Bohemia, the duke of Saxony, the margrave of Brandenburg and the count Palatine of the Rhine. In this electoral process, the pope was totally ignored. The Bull did not increase the existing independence of the electoral princes, but merely recognized it. It was a very important factor in preventing German decentralization in those German territories it directly affected, as electoral principalities were made indivisible and succession was strictly by primogeniture, unlike other German principalities.
THE GREAT ORDINANCE
The decree imposed by the Estates General in 1357 on the dauphin Charles when his father, John II of France, was in captivity. The Great Ordinance granted major financial and judicial powers to the Estates General and instituted a constitutional government. It was revoked in 1358 when the dauphin Charles overthrew the leaders of the government and resumed the regency.
A term for trade associations, the aims of which were to protect members from excessive competition and maintain commercial standards. The first guilds were merchant guilds; later came craft guilds as industry became more specialized. Guilds maintained a system of education wherein apprentices served a master for five to seven years before becoming journeymen at about age nineteen. A journeyman worked in the shop of a master until he could demonstrate to the leaders of his guild that he was ready for master status. Guilds also served as political organizations which endeavored to influence or control the policies of town and city governments in the High and Later Middle Ages.
The writing of the lives of saints, frequently idealized and embellished to present moral lessons and extremely popular throughout the Middle Ages. Although the biographies of the saints themselves are often suspect, background details of hagiographies often reveal aspects of everyday life to modern scholars.
The Hanseatic League was an association of German cities, originally established solely for economic reasons. These cities primarily wished to increase and protect their commerce and, where possible, secure a monopoly of trade in foreign ports. The League's members combined their naval and miltary powers to rid the Baltic and North Seas of pirates, and to protect their merchants who travelled by road or river. In the fourteenth century, after earlier occasional co-operation, the Hanseatic League became a permanent federation of towns with an assembly that formulated a common policy. A critical struggle for the League was the war from 1367 to 1370 with one of its chief rivals, Denmark. In this war, the League was victorious and gained extensive privileges maintaining the supremacy of its merchants over those of Scandinavia. The League eventually declined because of the contradictory interests of its members and because of the rise of English, Swedish, and Dutch trade and naval power.
Based on the spurious writings of Hermes Trismegister (three-times master), a supposed contemporary of Moses, hermeticism developed into a search for God and the secrets of the cosmos through magical and mystical means. Alchemy, numerology and the Cabbala (magical powers of the letteres of the Hebrew alphabet) were major components of hermeticism. Mathematics was extremely important to hermeticists, in contrast to Aristotelians who considered mathematics of little importance.
Names given to the seven pre-Viking Kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria, Kent, East Anglia, Essex and Sussex.
Any religious doctrine inconsistent with, or inimical to, the orthodox beliefs of the church.
A payment which a feudal lord could claim from the possessions of a dead serf or other tenant, essentially a death tax. There were various forms of heriot. In parts of Germany, the lord might be entitled to the serf's best animal (besthaupt), or best article of clothing (bestkleid) as heriot. Generally if a tenant died in battle the heriot was forgiven.
Anglo-Saxon unit of land-measurement for assessment of tax, theoretically 120 acres, although it may vary between 60 and 240 acres. It is by custom the land that can be cultivated with one eight-ox team in one year.
A modern term applied (often crudely or inappropriately) to medieval thinkers who believed that the pope held ultimate temporal as well as spiritual power.
HOMAGE AND FEALTY
The ceremony by which a VASSAL pledges himself to his lord and vice-versa. The Homage part refers to the ceremonial placement of the VASSALs hands within the hands of his lord (lat. immixtio manum ). The Fealty part refers to the oath in which the VASSAL acknowledges all his obligations in return for the grant of a FIEF.
A holding or group of holdings forming a large estate, such as the land held by an Earl.
HOSPITALLERS (See MILITARY ORDERS)
a word with many shades of meaning. At the heart, Humanism is an intellectual method based on the first two disciplines of the Trivium, grammar and rhetoric (see LIBERAL ARTS, SEVEN). Essentially a humanist aims to develop skill with the Latin language and to reassert the Classical Latin style of Ancient Rome. The genres of humanist writing also follow those of Classical Latin works, epic and lyric poetry, letter writing, history, treatises, biographies, etc. In a more general sense, however, Humanism came also to mean an interest in human things - in beauty, emotion, virtue and so on. Many works of the twelfth century exemplify these aspects of humanism and it is this, Classical Latin Language and Style which was reborn as it were in the Twelfth Century Renaissance. Humanism however was pushed out as the principal academic movement of the High and Later Middle Ages by an invention of the Twelfth Century, SCHOLASTICISM. Humanism faded so completely into the background that at the end of the Middle Ages, the Humanists of Renaissance Italy had no idea their tradition had been practiced in the Middle Ages at all. They believed that Classical Latin had been dead since the end of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century.
HUNDRED YEARS' WAR
A war fought on French soil between England and France. It was a war initiated by the French monarchy's expansionist policy and by the English king's resentment of having to recognise the King of France as his superior with regards to England's territory in France. The war was fought off and on between the years 1337-1453 and resulted in the loss of the majority of the English territory in France.
Inspired by the preachings of Jan Hus, whose own ideas were based on the teachings of John Wycklif, the Hussites demanded radical Church reforms, speaking out against simony, the sale of indulgences, and various other abuses of the clergy. Hus' martyrdom at the Council of Constance in 1415 provided a focal point for Czech nationalist feelings and led to armed revolt in Bohemia.
a unit of time of fifteen-years' duration, introduced by the Roman Emperor Constantine as a cycle for tax assessments, it was still used as a way of determining dates into the High Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, forgiveness for sin could be purchased from the Church as indulgences, removing the burden of penance for the commission of sins. A lucrative source of income for the Church, the practice was condemned by most reformers.
A non-believer (one who is "not faithful"). A pejorative label applied by christians to moslems and vice-versa.
popularly (and somewhat unfairly) known as an instrument for rooting out and punishing heretics and non-believers. The word means "asking into" something, carrying the sense of an investigation or inquiry. In canon law, inquisitio referred to a procedure developed out of the cognitio extraordinaria of Roman law. This procedure was promoted by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) as an alternative to accusatio and denunciatio , procedures which were customarily used in connection with the ORDEAL. After clerical participation in ORDEALs was banned by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the inquisitio quickly became the most commonly used procedure for ecclesiastical crimes. Rather quickly, the inquisitorial procedure became standard in civil as well as canon law. In English Law, the inquest was the venue in which the JURY operated, at first called to answer questions concerning local law and custom and matters of landholding. Just as on the continent, when the ordeal was rendered non-viable by the Fourth Lateran Council, the inquest became the standard legal procedure. As an instrument against heresy, the medieval inquisitio was more of a method than an institution. Until at least the thirteenth century, perhaps later, inquisitions were ad hoc affairs created to ask into a particular case and then disbanded. The large-scale employment of inquisitors for longer periods of time only began in the fourteenth century. The scandalous horrors of the "Roman Inquisition" and above all the "Spanish Inquisition" were products of the Early-Modern Period, not the Middle Ages!
The suspension in an area of all sacraments except for baptism and extreme unction. In general it does not ban high feast days. Used to force persons/institution/community or secular lords to a view dictated by the church/pope.
Frustrated by plague, famine and mercenaries, the peasants of northern France rebelled in 1358. As violent as the Jacquerie was reported to be, the revolt was quashed by the aristocracy with greater savagery. One repercussion of the Jacquerie was the return of royalist ideals that were being threatened by constitutional movements in the Estates General.
A new military force intially created by Orhan (d. 1359) in 1330, Murad I (1319-1389) re-organised the force into the standing paid army of the Ottoman Empire. Composed of Christian captives, the janissaries were educated in the Islamic faith and trained as soldiers. Under the direct command of the sultan, the janissaries countered the gazi nobility and were rewarded with land and administrative promotion, eventually occupying some of the highest positions in the Ottoman Empire.
JONGLEUR (see MINSTREL)
members of a community called by an official to give answer to a question under oath. In English law, an accusing jury dates to around A.D. 1000, but was prescribed and established by King Henry II in the Assize of Clarendon (1166). When the ORDEAL was rendered non-viable in 1215, juries began to be used by justices to determine guilt or innocence.
IUS PRIMAE NOCTIS (aka droit de seigneur)
the putative right of a lord to sleep the first night with the bride of a newly-married serf. No medieval jurist ever recognized or would ever have affirmed such a right; but what unscrupulous lords were able to demand under the color of a ius could indeed encompass the darkest of human wishes.
The head of the royal judicial system in England and the king's deputy when the king is absent from the country.
A new military force organised by Murat I (1360-1389), made up of captives from conquered lands and placed directly under his own command. They countered the gazi tradition and were rewarded with land to ensure their loyalty to him and successive Sultans.
The retainer of a feudal lord who owes military service for his FIEF, usually the service of one fully-equipped, mounted warrior. The ideals to which a knight may aspire were prowess and CHIVALRY.
KNIGHT'S FEE (see FIEF)
a group of thirteenth-century philosophers including Siger of Brabant (d.1284) who held that Avverroes's commentary on Aristotle was valid and embraced its conclusions. Because some of these conclusions contradicted the teachings of the church (for example the eternity of the world and the unity of the intellect) these philosophers held to the principle (or paradox) of "double-truth", i.e., that there could be truths in philosophy which were not valid in theology and vice-versa.
a special representative "sent" by the Pope. A legate could be given very limited or very broad powers by the pope. There was a lively discussion among jurists as to the limits of legatine authority and how legatine authority compared to the authority of a bishop or archbishop within his own SEE.
LIBERAL ARTS, SEVEN
The basic curriculum for education as established in the Carolingian Age. The Seven Liberal Arts included three disciplines at the primary level (the Trivium): Grammar, Rhetoric and Dialectic, and four disciplines at the secondary level (the Quadrivium): arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. In the Twelfth Century Renaissance the Quadrivium was largely passed over and emphasis was placed on the disciplines of the Trivium. Grammar and Rhetoric were the basis of the Humanistic stream of thought, while Dialectic was the basis of the Scholastic stream. Education in the Liberal Arts, or in some of them was the essential precursor to study in the higher disciplines of Theology, Philosophy, and Law. After the twelfth century, the dialectical, Scholastic Method, reinforced and further developed by Aristotle's works, somewhat marginalized the humanist genres.
Members of the religious sect of fourteenth and fifteenth century England based on the teachings of John Wyclif. Considering the Bible to be the only rule of faith, Lollards urged a return to the simple life of the early Church and opposed many doctrines of the Church. The Lollards were fairly numerous in the late fourteenth century but their relentless condemnation of high-ranking members of the clergy and the aristocracy decreased their popularity and they became the targets of merciless persecution. Although greatly reduced in number, the Lollards still existed in the time of Henry VIII. Members of the religious sect of fourteenth and fifteenth century England based on the teachings of John Wyclif. Considering the Bible to be the only rule of faith, Lollards urged a return to the simple life of the early Church and opposed many doctrines of the Church. The Lollards were fairly numerous in the late fourteenth century but their relentless condemnation of high-ranking members of the clergy and the aristocracy decreased their popularity and they became the targets of merciless persecution. Although greatly reduced in number, the Lollards still existed in the time of Henry VIII.
MAN-AT-ARMS (aka Yeoman)
A soldier holding his land in exchange for military service.
MAINMORTE (see MORTMAIN)
a belief dating back to the ancient world which survived through the Middle Ages. Manichees held that there were two divine forces, one of goodness and light, the other of evil and darkness. Manicheanism was also an ASCETIC belief, holding that material existence, that matter itself is evil while spiritual existence is good. The CATHARS were essentially Manichees.
A small holding, typically 1200-1800 acres, with its own court and probably its own hall, but not necessarily having a manor house. The manor as a unit of land is generally held by a knight (KNIGHT'S FEE) or managed by a bailiff for some other holder.
The agricultural system of personal relationships that organized a labour population around the estate of a noble lord. It has been defined as economic feudalism.
A measure of silver, generally eight ounces, accepted throughout western Europe. In England a Mark was worth thirteen shillings and four pence, two thirds of one pound.
A place where goods may be bought and sold, established in a village or town with the authorization of a king or lord, secular or ecclesiastical. The lord extends his protection to the market for a fee, and allows its merchants various economic and judicial privileges. See also FAIR.
A Florentine familiy of bankers and businessmen, the Medici influenced religious, political, cultural and economic development in Italy through the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the fifteenth century, under the leadership of Cosimo, Piero, and Lorenzo the Magnificent respectively, the Medici family was at the peak of its power. They and their supporters effectively ruled Florence, and they were among the most powerful of the Italian city-state rulers. They were generous in their patronage of authors, artists, and philosophers. Many of the brilliant figures of the Italian Renaissance were financially supported in their endeavours by members of the Medici family.
MERCHET (see FORMARRIAGE)
METROPOLITAN (see ARCHBISHOP)
Special orders of chivalric knighthood organized in connection with the crusades. Military orders fused elements of monastic life with soldiery. The first such order, the Knights of St.John of the Hospital of Jerusalem originated in 1070 with the aim of protecting a hospital for Christian Pilgrims to the Holy Land. Commonly called the Hospitallers, the Knights of St. John flourished during the crusades and acquired various lands in the Mediterranean including the islands of Rhodes and Malta. As the Knights of Malta, the order endures to this day. The second of the military orders and the most famous was first called the Poor Knights of Christ, but quickly became known as the Templars because they had a house on the site of the Temple of Solomon soon after their foundation in 1119. The Templars quickly became so rich that they served as repositors and disbursers of a portion of the French Royal Treasury. This incited jealous opposition and, in 1307, the direct action of the French Monarchy. King Philip IV's men arrested all the Templars in France for heresy, idolatry, and for various obscene practices. Although many French Templars confessed under torture, investigations of the Order in other countries produced no evidence in support of the charges. Pope Clement V was compelled to sanction the dissolution of the order (at the Council of Vienne, 1312) and to permit the execution of the Grand Master of the Order and others. The Templars' wealth was transferred to the Hospitallers. Some believe the order has continued to exist in secret from then till today and this has been grist for conspiracy theorists. The third of the major military orders was the Order of Teutonic Knights. Founded in Jerusalem in 1190, this order became focused on conquest and conversion in the Baltic region by the thirteenth century. The order built an Ordenstaat with considerable power by the late thirteenth century. There were two, much smaller military orders founded in Spain.
Originally, this term applied to the unfree servant of ecclesiastical and secular lords in Germany. The Salian monarchs began to give feudal positions to their ministeriales and to implant them in the lands of their German opponents so as to de-stabilize their opponents in their own homes, so to speak. This was a further development of Ottonian practice, different in the very low social status of Ministeriales. Unlike the Ottonian families so favored, Ministeriales were despised by the German Aristocracy. Since the Ministeriales were thus foreclosed from alliance with the opponents of the monarchy, they were bound to support the Monarch.
MINSTREL (aka jongleur)
A poet and singer who lived and traveled off of the largess of the aristocracy. see also TROUBADOUR/TROUVERE
MONASTERY (aka abbey)
general term for a place where MONKS or Nuns live removed from the corrupting influence of the secular world under the regulation of a monastic rule, sometimes referred to as a "spiritual fortress". A monastery governed by an Abbot or Abbess (sometimes called an abbey) were essentially autonomous. Monastic houses administered by a prior or prioress (called a priory) were subject to supervision by a superior at another monastery. This was the rule for Cluniac monasteries which were all under the supervision of the Abbot of Cluny.
A person licensed by the crown to strike coins, receiving the dies from the crown, and keeping 1/240 of the money coined for himself.
The Mongolian-speaking nomadic tribes that ruled most of western and eastern Asia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Mongols established control in modern-day Russia and continued to expand whenever a strong ruler acquired leadership. The conversion of many of their subjects to Islam diminished the authority of the Buddhist Mongols and, despite some attempts by their leader Tamerlane (d.1405) to re-establish control in the late fourteenth century, the Mongolian Empire turned its attention eastward and away from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East.
men who have abandoned the secular world for a common life of prayer and labor with other like-minded men. Monasticism originated in fourth-century Egypt and spread across the Mediterranean quickly. Monks live in a MONASTERY. The lives of most monks is regulated by a monastic rule, such as that of St. Benedict, which regulates their lives to a schedule of prayer, work, reflection, and perhaps learning. Monks took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Monastic orders wear distinctive habits and could be identified by these: the Black Monks were Benedictines, the White Monks were Cistercians. The major monastic orders of Western Europe during the High Middle Ages were: Benedictines, Carthusians, Cistercians, Cluniacs, and Premonstratensians.
MORTMAIN (aka main mort)
an English term for conveyance to the Church, either charitable donation or bequest. From the reign of Edward I, the English Monarchy attempted to prevent the permanent alienation of land to the "dead hand" of the church (and so beyond royal taxation and jurisdiction).
a compilation of Platonic, Aristotelian and Stoic ideas that experienced a strong revival during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Central to the philosophy is the notion that spiritual things are real and that material things are not. The freeing of the spiritual element, the soul, from the material element, the body, should be the ultimate goal of all of mankind and could be achieved through knowledge and contemplation.
NOMINALISM (see UNIVERSAL)
ORDINARY GLOSS (see GLOSS)
The mode of proof in judicial procedures in Western Europe until the early thirteenth century. An ordeal was a test given to the accused (and sometimes the accuser as well) which determined guilt or innocence definitively. The theory of the ordeal was that God himself intervened in human affairs and through the ordeal would give judgment. The most common ordeal was the ordeal by oath, called Compurgation. The accused would have to pronounce an oath declaring his innocence. If he were to falter in the pronunciation of the words, this would indicate that the accused was guilty. More serious offenses might require that the accused produce a number of supporters who would also have to take and pass the oath test. A slip by one of these "oath-helpers" was as determinative as by the accused himself. Very serious crimes required far more serious ordeals. The two most renowned such ordeals were the ordeals by hot iron and the ordeal by cold water. In the former, the accused was required to pick up a piece of red hot iron, carry it in his hands a prescribed number of steps and set it down again. The hands would then be carefully bandaged. After several days, the bandages would be removed and the hands examined. if they were healing normally, the person was judged innocent, but if they were festering, the judgment was guilty. The Cold water ordeal is well known for its application in the Early-Modern period in the witch-craze. The accused would be bound tightly and thrown into a body of water. If the accused sank and was thus received by the water, the judgment was innocent, but if he floated and was thus rejected by the water, the judgment was guilty. Presumably, the accused would be taken from the water before drowning.
Although the Ordeal is commonly regarded as thoroughly irrational, it was used within a quite rational tradition of negotiation, based upon a principle of reciprocity. If the accuser and the accused could not agree to settle the dispute and it proceeded to law, the accused would have to vindicate himself by the prescribed ordeal. If the accused made his ordeal, the accuser would then be required to make the same ordeal in order to vindicate himself against the charge of bringing a false accusation. In such cases, the accuser was then subject to the same penalty as that which would have applied to the accused. Like the present system of English civil law which requires the loser to pay all the legal costs of the case in addition to any damages, this system provided a tremendous incentive to settlement and a discouragement to weak suits.
There were other ordeals used in different regions such as walking on hot coals or pulling stones from the bottom of a pot of boiling water. One other sort of ordeal which was resorted to by members of the aristocracy was trial by combat. Parties to a dispute could fight themselves, or they could put up a champion to fight in their place. Combat could be to the first blood or to the death. The use of champions in trial by combat is a sort of anthropological origin of the Common law reliance upon lawyers in a trial.
The political and geographical entity governed by the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Their empire was centered in present-day Turkey, and extended its influence into southeastern Europe as well as the Middle East. Europe was only temporarily able to resist their advance: the turning point came at the Battle of Varna in 1444 when a European coalition army failed to stop the Turkish advance. Only Constantinople remained in Byzantine hands and its fall in 1453 seemed inevitable after Varna. The Turks subsequently established an empire in Anatolia and southeastern Europe which lasted until the early twentieth century.
Driven from their Asiatic homelands by the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks pressed into the Balkan provinces of the Byzantine Empire. In the fourteenth century, they began their conquest of Byzantine territory.
PARLEMENT (OF PARIS)
French Royal court established by King Louis IX (d.1270). By the mid-fourteenth century, the Parlement began to oppose Royal decisions.
English legislative and judicial body which evolved from the King's Great Council. The crucial period for the expansion of this body to include both common people and nobles was from the late-thirteenth to the late fourteenth century. The English kings needed monies to prosecute its wars and summoned larger and larger numbers to council. These members made grants to the crown contingent upon having their complaints heard and generally being paid attention to.
A heretical teaching of a certain Pelagius (d.418 or later) who held that a person could earn grace by good works apart from the sacraments. Although Pelagianism was repudiated in the Early Middle Ages, it indicated a tension in catholic thought on Free Will.
a theory which was advanced by Pope Leo I (d.461) to enhance the position of the bishop of Rome within the Church. The Petrine Theory was a development of the theory of APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION which asserted that because the bishop of Rome was the successor of Peter who was specially marked by Christ, he inherited Peter's special authority.
the study of language, especially in relation to its historical and contextual setting. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the recovery of many texts from the Near east created contradictions with known sources and led scholars to search for the original versions of documents. Numerous forgeries were discovered, most notably the Donation of Constantine, which supposedly granted rule of Western Christendom to the pope, and the Hermetic Writings, which had given rise to an entire system of thought.
The podest was the executive officer that held full and complete administrative powers on a temporary basis. Typically an educated citizen or noble brought in from another city as a temporary subsitute for the civic councils during times of crisis, many were highly effective civic administrators that moved from town to town as their services were required.
POPOLO (primo popolo)
The popolo grasso was composed of wealthy and influential professionals and guild members who controlled trade and civic administration. The popolo grasso eventually developed its own aristocracy as the nouveau riche became established and the old feudal nobility died out or became impoverished.
The popolo minuto were the craftsmen and labourers who were forbidden to organize into guilds. Since, in many communes, guild membership was a prerequisite for political office, the popolo minuto were effectively excluded from involvement in civic government. This discrimination generated much of the civic restlessness that characterized Italian politics in the late Middle Ages and beyond.
A term for Roman-law jurists who wrote after the completion of Accursius's Ordinary GLOSS to Justinian's Corpus Iuris Civilis.
PRAGMATIC SANCTION OF BOURGES (1438)
A decree that is accepted as fundamental law. The Pragmatic Sanction of 1438 issued by Charles VII reaffirmed the authority of the French king over the income and personnel of the French church and limited papal influences in France."
PREBEND (see BENEFICE)
PRESENTATION (in English law aka Advowson)
in the canon law of patronage, the right of a patron to nominate a candidate for a benefice. It was expected that a "suitable" nominee would receive the benefice, but from the late-twelfth century, the papacy tried to weaken this presumption and to undermine this right.
French royal administrative official (form of the Latin praepositus ) subordinated to the BAILLE and the SENESCHAL by the thirteenth century.
The right of the eldest son to inherit the estate or office of his father.
PRIORY (see MONASTERY)
REALISM (see UNIVERSAL)
Originally, and Anglo-Saxon royal administrator responsible for justice. This office evolved into the SHERIFF. The title Reeve also applied to the supervisor or the foreman of a manor -- the manor Reeve could be appointed or elected.
the name given to the lands attached to an ecclesiastical office by a secular ruler to be administered for the secular state. This contrasts with the SPIRITUALIA, which is the term for lands which are the property of the Church. The dispute over Regalia was at the heart of the Investiture Contest; Henry IV of Germany relied upon the major Clerics of Germany to manage lands for him, and naturally enough wanted to ensure that these clerics were competent and loyal. The separation of Ecclesiastical and Temporal powers called the Regalia into question: some reformers claimed that the Regalia itself was the Church's, not the Crown's. The latent threat that the King might be suddenly deprived of the loyalty of some of his most important administrators and the control over the lands they administered was a knife at the throat of the Salian monarchy.
The fee paid by the heir of a deceased person on securing possession of a FIEF. The amount of relief was normally set by CUSTOM, but circumstances such as the strength or weakness of the lord could well affect this. A lord in a particularly strong position might demand a much larger sum in relief, but demands for very high relief might well drive a lord's VASSALs into rebellion.
The intellectual method and culture of the schoolmen of the High and Later Middle Ages. Scholasticism was a dialectical method of academic discourse pioneered by Peter Abelard (d.1122) in his "Sic et Non", and then applied to many fields of knowledge, such as law (Gratian's DECRETUM) and Theology (Peter Lombard's Sentences).
literally, "shield money." This is a term used in England for monetary payments made to the King by KNIGHTS in lieu of military service. In the twelfth century, as military professionalism grew and a commercial economy developed in Western Europe, King Henry II realized that he could fight more efficiently with paid troops rather than feudal levies which were bound to include many soldiers of little skill. Thus he began the practice of commuting knight service for cash payments. In the early thirteenth century, King John tried to collect scutage more than once per year which helped to drive his BARONS into a major rebellion.
SEE (pronounced, zay)
a general term for the geographical extent of the jurisdiction of any bishop. Any bishopric is a See, as is any archbishopric, as is the "universal" jurisdiction of the papacy. One refers to an episcopal see, or to the Apostolic see (i.e. the papal jurisdiction over the whole Church).
A term used in the feudal system of England after the Norman conquest. Seisen is the right to possess a piece of land. In theory, the crown in England owned all the land in the realm except for some which was owned by the Church. But even though the Lords and Vassals beneath the King owned no land, they possessed a lot of it and that right of possession, called Seisen, was given a considerable degree of protection in law. (Disseisen is the term used for the seizure of a piece of land, the taking away of another's seisen.)
In the eleventh and the twelfth centuries, the seneschal was the highest administrative officer in the Royal household of the French King. The seneschal was the supervisor of the PREVOTS. The BAILLE were first adapted from the Normans as special delegates of the seneschal to monitor and supervise the PREVOTS. In 1191, King Philip Augustus allowed the office of seneschal to become vacant and to remain so for the rest of his life. Over that time, the office of BAILLE was expanded and made territorial. In the thirteenth century, seneschals were appointed to administrative districts in the south of France, paralleling the BAILLE in the North.
has both a general and a specific meaning; in general the term serf means any unfree person. The term applies to those agricultural workers who bind themselves to landholders by oath or are born in such a status. The serf exchanges aspects of his freedom for protection and a measure of security. In most cases this entailed the obligation of the serf either to do agricultural labor on the lord's fields, or to provide a portion of the produce from land which the lord would permit him to farm, or both. in a more narrow, legal sense serfs were the most unfree of the unfree: a true serf was bound to a plot of land and could not move or marry or make a number of other such life decisions without the consent of his lord. Usually, such permission had a price. Villein, by contrast, is a term which refers to agricultural workers in a feudal system who are basically free, having only the obligation to do labor for the lord on a defined number of days. Serfdom was an advantageous condition in times of chaos, such as the late ninth and early tenth century when a variety of invading people's made life extremely dangerous in Western Europe. Furthermore, because true serfs were, in effect, completely under the jurisdiction of their lords, they were not subject to the legal power of anyone else, and anyone who harmed a serf would have to answer to his lord who was obligated to protect the serf (and his own honor).
A servant who accompanies his lord to battle, or a horseman of lower status used as light cavalry. Also means a type of tenure in service of a non-knightly character is owed a lord. Such persons might carry the lords banner, serve in the wine cellar, make bows/arrows or any other dozen occupations. Sergeants pay the feudal dues of WARDSHIP, FORMARRIAGE, and RELIEF but are exempt from SCUTAGE (non-knightly).
(From Shire Reeve) The official who is the chief administrative and judicial officer of a shire. Many of its jobs where taken over by the itinerant justice, coroner, and justice of the peace. The Sheriff collected taxes and forwarded them on to the EXCHEQUER, after taking his share.
Measure of money used only for accounting purposes and equal to 12 pennies.
English county. The shire court conducted the administrative, judicial and financial business of people living in the county.
This charming name is given to the bloody war that began when, on Easter Monday in 1282, a French soldier assaulted a young married woman on her way to vespers in Palermo. The surrounding mob attacked the soldier and raised the cry, "Death to the French!" The ensuing riot massacred virtually every Frenchman in the city and the violence swiftly spread across the entire island. When the French sent a retaliatory force, the Sicilians called on Peter III of Aragon to aid them. The war ended indecisively two decades later, the Angevins in Naples, the Aragonese in Sicily and the economy and people of Sicily spent.
Siege of Belgrade (mid-June-22 July 1456)
a large Ottoman force was held off by an army of Hungarian peasants led by Jan Hunyadi. The victory was touted across Europe as the turning point in the war against the Ottoman Turks but it proved to be little more than a respite in the Turkish advance.
Siege (conquest) of Constantinople (February-30 May, 1453)
The Signoria was composed of the doge, six councilors and the three chief judicial magistrates. It held both ceremonial and executive powers.
The buying or selling of spiritual things, particularly church offices and benefices. The word derives from the biblical story of Simon Magus who tried to buy from the apostles the power to perform miracles.
Begun in 1478 to enforce religious conformity in Spain, the papacy soon relinquished control to the Spanish monarchs and the Inquisition became an instrument of state operated by the clergy, especially the Dominicans. The zealous persecution by the early inquisitors, notably Isabella's confessor, Tomas de Torquemada, led to the execution of thousands accused of heresy. The Inquisition had a major impact on the religious, political, and cultural development of Spain and her colonies, persisting until the nineteenth century. Other similar institutions occurred throughout Europe.
TAILLE (aka tallage)
a word with several meanings: literally, "an exaction ", a taille can refer to an irregular tax imposed on peasants by a lord at his will. Such taille could be both arbitrary and onerous. Taille can also refer to a tax imposed on a town as a price for liberties such as a market, again imposed arbitrarily. In France, the taille refers to emergency taxes imposed by the king on households. Such taxes were called "fouages" until the late fourteenth century when that term was replaced by the more general, taille. By the fifteenth century, this taille became an annualized tax collected by region.
TEMPLARS (See MILITARY ORDERS)
English nomenclature for a VASSAL holding FIEF directly from the king. All Earls are Tenants in Chief.
The branch of religious orders composed of lay men and women living in the community. Often living under rules similar to those of regular monastics, tertiaries did not take vows of Holy Orders.
TEUTONIC KNIGHTS (See MILITARY ORDERS)
THANE (aka Thegn)
a term used in Northern Europe and the British Isles during the Early Middle Ages meaning a Military Companion to the King. It came to mean a land-holding administrative office.
The rite of shaving the crown of the head of the person joining a monastic order or the secular clergy. It is a visible sign of admission to the CLERGY.
Practice combat for knights.
the miraculous transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ during the Catholic Mass, leaving only a remnant of the original substances. This doctrine was discussed by theologians in the twelfth century, but only defined officially in 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council.
In the English Monarchy, the chief financial officer of the realm and senior officer of the EXCHEQUER.
TRIVIUM (see LIBERAL ARTS, SEVEN)
composers and singers of lyric songs in France of the twelfth through thirteenth centuries (Troubadours in the South, Trouveres in the North). The subjects of their songs were CHIVALRY and COURTLY LOVE. The troubadours used the Occitan tongue (the langue d'oc), while the trouveres used old French.
A free man who holds a FIEF from a lord to whom he swears HOMAGE AND FEALTY. He owes various obligations, primarily military. But he is also required to advise his lord and pay 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.
The least unfree of the unfree (see SERF).
the term for the perfect idea of a thing. According to the Neoplatonic thought system of the Middle Ages up to the mid-thirteenth century, only ideas truly exist. Matter, considered in the abstract, does not exist. The material things of this world therefore exist insofar as they reflect universals such as chair, pen, horse etc. Among medieval philosophers, those who held that Universals exist and that material things exist only insofar as they reflect the universal are called realists (because they hold that Universals are real). Those Philosophers who do not adhere to this position were called nominalists (because they hold that Universals are names [nomen in Latin]). In fact, the opponents of Realism held a broad range of views on the status of Universals.
excessive interest on money loaned. Usury was forbidden by canon law based upon biblical injunctions. There was an intense debate among theologians and jurists as to how much interest was excessive and what was a "just price".
USUS PAUPER (aka usus facti)
The Latin translation of the Bible made by Jerome (ca. A.D. 400), the Vulgate was the only legitimate text of scripture through the High and Later Middle Ages. The term can also be used generally for the "common" form of a work.
A dissenting religious movement begun by Peter Waldo, a merchant of Lyon, in the later twelfth century. Like the later mendicant FRIARS, Waldo and his followers emphasized poverty and preaching. The Waldensians were refused approval as an order by Pope Alexander III because they insisted on their right to preach, even on theological points, without the consent of local bishops and because they used French translations of passages of the VULGATE in their preaching. Thereafter, the Waldensians became defiantly heretical and adopted elements of DONATISM in attacking the orthodox church. The Waldensians created a modest but quite vital opposition church in Northern Italy. Though they were harmed by the pursuit of the CATHARS in the mid-thirteenth century, a small number of Waldensian churches have survived to the present day.
WAR OF THE EIGHT SAINTS
Desire for the wealthy papal town of Bologna led Florence away from her normally pro-papal stance and into armed conflict with the papacy. The papacy countered the attacks by placing the entire community under interdict and the conditions of the working classes deterioriated until they rebelled in 1378 in the Ciompi Rebellion. The "Eight Saints" were the eight priors of the city.
THE WARS OF THE ROSES
A series of civil wars in England fought between the rival houses of Lancaster and York from 1455 to 1485.
The right of a feudal lord to the income of a fief during the minority of its heir. The lord is required to maintain the fief and to take care of the material needs of the ward. When the ward come of age, the lord is required to release the fief to him in the same condition in which it was received.
The term generally given to land which is unusable or uncultivated within a holding. It is not taxed. It is sometimes referred to land destroyed by war or raids, which is likewise not subject to tax.
WITAN (aka Witanagemot)
Council composed of nobles and churchmen which advised the Anglo Saxon Kings of England and chose the successor to the throne of the Anglo-Saxon realm.
most broadly, an English word for an official document produced by the chancery from the time of the Anglo-Saxon monarchs on. King Henry II (d.1189) greatly reformed the operation of legal and judicial institutions in England so that writs became the principal mechanism for invoking Royal jurisdiction in various legal disputes. Henry devised four specific actions (called ASSIZEs in this context) concerning possessory rights which were initiated by writs of the same name: 1) novel disseisen: designed to compel the return of seisen of land to the rightful holder; 2) mort d'ancestor: designed to assist heirs who have not been allowed to take possession of lands which should have come to them; 3) darrein presentment: designed to settle disputes over advowson, a right to present candidates for an ecclesiastical benefice (see PRESENTATION); and 4) utrum: designed to determine whether a particular holding was secular or ecclesiastical. A bit later was developed the assize and writ praecipe, designed to enforce a conveyance of land by fine.
This glossary in its various incarnations is one of the unique, collaborative creations of the internet.
Originated in 1988 by Michael Adams. Many entries have been added since, and will be revised over the years.