Glossary

The purpose of this page is provide a handy reference for the many Latin terms that readers will encounter when reviewing the literature and sources of the period. Some scholars provide translations, some do not (usually depending on their audience). Some translate terms that others leave untranslated (particularly in ‘popular’ history), and it is handy to recognize some common English terms so that you can know what the actual Latin must have been.

aidents those who would support the partant's farm while he was at war
ancilla female servus
annona an Aquitainian fodder tax, prone to abuse; mentioned in the Vita Pardulfi, Charlemagne's capitulary of 769, and the Astronomer's Life of Louis
antisties "he who stands before", a priest, usually bishop or pope
apostolicus "the apostolic one", the pope
bannum call to military service for all free men
bannus power of authoritative command; the command itself, or the fine for infringement of the command
basileus Greek term for "emperor"
benefice a grant or reward from the crown or church for services rendered; particularly military service
brunia body armor; scales or mail?
candidatus high ranking imperial bodyguard
carnaticus obligation to provide the army with livestock
casata landholding of a peasant?
castellum fortress
castra (castrum) castle or fortress
chausses mail that protected the leg and thigh
civitas city, or perhaps fortified city
civitates region led by a comes/count. Walled and fortified
colona unfree woman but not a slave
confessio shrine (with crypt in St Peter’s) containing a saint’s tomb
custodes garrison troops
denarius see solidus
domesticus notable? Title of a court figure?
ducatum a dukedom?
dux (duces) duke, the leader of several civitates – also a duke brought in for a one-time command for a campaign. Could also be a "leader" where duke is not appropriate
dux et princeps Francorum "commander of the armies of the kingdom, in addition to his administrative duties as mayor of the palace, and specifically commander of the standing guard which Charles Martel had begun maintaining year-round since the Battle of Toulouse in 721"
exercitus socii that made up the army of the Mayor
exercitus generalis army of a magnate made up of socii
fidelis "the faithful one" loyal subject, of God or ruler
fidelissimi superlative fidelis
fransiska Frankish throwing axe
hauberk mail coat
haribannus (heribannum) crippling fine for not attending the bannum
homo (homines) man or person; could mean retainer or vassal
honor (honores) honor; can also mean "special character or status" (of church, cleric, etc.), office, dignity, benefice, etc.
hostilense obligation to provide the army with carts and oxen
indiction fifteen year Roman tax cycle, still used as a method of dating in some parts of Europe
judex (judices) judge, leading man, officer of any sort
khanjar Saracen short-bladed weapon
languets short crossbar that protected the spear shaft below the blade; using for parrying during spear fighting
lantweri general mobilization in a limited area. More serious than a bannum. Punishable by death for failure to attend
leudes leading men under Martel
liberi some kind of free status, better than laeti or milites
litus unfree man, not a slave
mancipium unfree man, usually a slave
manse (mansus) rural household and holding; the amount of land for one household to live on
mansioniles a manor, smaller than a villa; 200 – 300 hectares
milites garrisons or levies of the civitates, serving under the command of a tribunus. In defense, protected their area from attack and police duty. Made up of rich men, whose land was worked by slaves or serfs. Also, mounted warriors
missus "the sent one," legate, envoy, commissioner
modius measure of capacity, like peck or bushel, but not those
naves something naval or waterborne
nomenculator papal dignitary responsible for dealing with petitions, visitors, etc.
ocreis greaves
oppida something to do with fortifications?
optimates “the best ones,” magnates, leading men
partants those men who would actually go to war; see aidents
peregrinus pilgrim, voluntary exile in God’s service, stranger
praesul (praesules) "he who presides," pope, bishop
precaria, precarial conditional grant of land or the document witnessing this; a religious benefice
primates, primati, primi, priores, proceres "the first ones," leading men, magnates
primicerius papal or imperial government dignitary, head of the scrinium
princeps (principes) prince, or "leading man" when appropriate
protospatharius captain of spatharii
rector (rectores) governor, ruler
referendarius referendary, one who reviewed documents prior to the king’s signature
regulus "little king"; prince or chieftain
res publica polity or commonwealth; the Byzantine empire
rex (reges) king; otherwise ruler
saccellarius finance minister, treasurer
sacerdos (sacerdotes) cleric or any rank, but usually priest or bishop
sarabaitae unruly, vagrant monks
scabini jurymen elected for life
scara military unit used for swift strikes, garrisons, frontier duty, etc. Originally the standing army of the Merovingian king; later any group of armed men; fought as "close packed armored cavalry"? There were three ranks of seniority
scramasax dagger, shorter than a seax
scriniarius official in charge of a scrinium
scrinium writing office and archives
seax single-edged short sword or dagger
secundicerius deputy to the primicerius
servi (servus) unfree person, whether slave, serf, or something else. "Servant" in ecclesiastical sense
socii professional warrior
solidus, solidi, solidii money of account representing twelve silver denarii (actual coins). Twenty solidi were reckoned to the pound (money of account), as were twelve unciae. Two or three solidii bought a cow; twelve bought a war horse
spatharius high ranking bodyguard
strategus Byzantine military (and civil) governor
superista head of the military forces of the papal household
triclinium reception hall at the Lateran
uncial Twelve to the pound. See solidus.
vicus settlement of some size, large village or small town
villa large estate or manor; 1000 – 2000 hectares

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