Medieval vs. Modern English
The English language has considerably changed over the centuries. Many
words are not used any longer, whilst others have changed meaning. What
follows is my perception of some of these words in today's language,
followed by the actual meaning in Medieval English. Here we go:
ADULTERINE CASTLE ++
Modern: A slutty stone building.
Medieval: A castle build without a persons' liege lord's approval.
Modern: Aesthetic representation of backsides.
Medieval: To turn woodlands into pasture or cropland. To assart
lands within a forest without license is a grave offense.
Modern: (v.) To gauge the magnitude of somebody's backside.
Medieval: The meeting of feudal vassals with the king it also refers
to decrees issued by the king after such meetings.
Modern: Something lacking originality.
Medieval: 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.
Modern: A hairdresser who (illegally) performs surgery.
Medieval: Monastic who shaves faces/heads and performs light surgery.
Modern: A female hamburger.
Medieval: The holder of land or house within a borough.
CARDINAL VIRTUES +++
Modern: Money, Brains, Looks, Money.
Medieval: Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice.
Modern: A vigorous and dedicated action in favour of a cause.
Medieval: An exercise in Burning, Killing, Raping & Pillaging that
took place in Palestine.
DOUBLE MONASTERY +++
Modern: A place where monks lead a double life and worship two
Medieval: Combined monastery for men and women but sexually
Ruled by either an Abbot or Abbess.
Modern: To be a crook, in Spanish (e.g., Manuel es un cheat).
Medieval: 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.
Modern: Something that goes with gin.
Medieval: An Anglo-Norman prefix meaning son.
Modern: To be in favour of marriage. (Well, you know, De
Medieval: The sum commonly paid by a serf to his lord when the serf's
daughter marries a man from another manor.
FRANK PLEDGE +++++++
Modern: A solemn promise, made by someone called Frank.
Medieval: 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.
Modern: A Macho disturbance.
Medieval: A payment which a feudal lord may claim from the
of a dead serf or other tenant, essentially a death tax.
There are various forms of heriot. Generally, if a tenant
dies in battle the heriot is forgiven.
Modern: The skin of an animal. Also, the evil alter ego of
Medieval: A unit of 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 by one
eight ox plough in one year.
HUE AND CRY ++++++++
Modern: Paint yourself and weep.
Medieval: The requirement of all members of a village to pursue a
criminal with horn and voice. It is a duty of any person
discovering a felony to raise the hue and cry and his
neighbours are bound to assist him in pursuit and capture
of the offender.
Modern: Bo Derek x Bo Derek = 100.
Medieval: Anglo Saxon institution. Subdivision of a Shire.
Theoretically equals one hundred hides, but hardly
ever (You couldn't trust anybody in those days, could
Modern: Located in the interior of a country.
Medieval: Land exempt from tax.
KNIGHT'S FEE +++++++
Modern: A monetary reward for one-knight stand.
Medieval: A fief which provides sufficient revenue to equip and
support one knight. This is approximately twelve hides
or 1500 acres.
Modern: A carbon-based bipedal life form, that is not a woman.
Also, a dog's best friend.
Medieval: To be a lord's man, to owe obligations to, in the forms of
labour or service. A woman can be someone's man. (Say
Modern: Dog's best friend, with two upper limbs, that are used
to connect the shoulders to the wrists.
Medieval: A soldier holding his land, generally 60-120 acres,
specifically in exchange for military service.
MARCHER LORDS ++++++
Modern: Power walkers.
Medieval: The name commonly given to Norman landholders on the
Medieval: A measure of silver, generally eight ounces, accepted
throughout Western Europe. In England is worth thirteen
shillings and four pence, two thirds of one pound.
Modern: Forcing sexual intercourse against a person's will.
Medieval: The Sussex equivalent of a "hundred."
Modern: Feeling of well-being, following the removal of pain or
Medieval: The fee paid by the heir of a deceased person on securing
possession of a fief.
Modern: Non-commissioned officer of an army.
Medieval: A servant who accompanies his lord to battle.
THIRD PENNY ++++++++
Modern: What comes after the first and the second penny.
Medieval: The local earls' one third share of fines in shire or
hundred courts, often allocated afterwards to a
particular manor or church as income.
TOWN AIR IS FREE AIR
Modern: Yes, quite. Polluted, but free.
Medieval: Words used in many town charters to proclaim free any
serf who lives there for a year and a day without being
claimed by his lord. (Urbanization, finally explained).
Modern: A wicked person.
Medieval: The wealthiest class of peasant. They usually cultivated
20-40 acres of land, often in isolated strips.
Modern: A gate that has never been opened, a virgin gate.
Medieval: One quarter of a "hide."
Modern: The terrain on which you play Warcraft.
Medieval: Land liable for tax, as opposed to Inland, which is
generally exempt from tax. (Tell that to the Inland
Modern: A tremendously oppressive force (e.g., Wife, Teenage
Daughters, Mother-In-Law, Boss...)
Medieval: A measurement of land in Kent equal to half "hide."
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