Iain Campbell

Wolves in Armour


Ballista- a siege or field weapon of Roman design, shooting a bolt similar to a small spear.

Barrels- Firkin (ale), 9 gallons. Kilderkin, 18 gallons. Barrel, 36 gallons. Hogshead, 52 gallons. Tun, 256 gallons.

Bot- compensation payable under the West Saxon legal system.

Byrnie- a sleeveless waist-length vest of armour, usually chain mail.

Chain-mail- a series of round links joined together, each riveted to four others, which when made into sections were sewn onto a leather undergarment. This provided good protection against cuts and reasonable protection against thrusts or arrows. Hauberk and coif weighed about 40 pounds.

Charger- a large and strong horse used in battle.

Church Services- Matins midnight; Lauds dawn; Prime 6.00am; Terce 9.00am; Sext 12.00noon; Nones 3.00pm; Vespers 6.00pm; Compline Sunset. Hours varied depending on season (ie the length of the day). Used as a standard statement of a specific time (eg ‘an hour before Vespers’).

Coif- a piece of chain mail that covered the neck and head, leaving the face clear.

Cog- a smallish single-masted merchant vessel- the standard marine transport of the Middle Ages.

Curia Regis- the Council advising the Norman kings, successor to the Witenagemot.

Destrier- large French-bred trained warhorse.

Ealdor- English word for chief.

Fyrd- English militia comprised of freemen who were not professional fighters.

Gambeson- quilted padded jacket worn under armour, to absorb the force of a blow. Frequently used without over-armour by archers.

Gebur- Generic term for English freeman/freewoman.

Hackney- a medium sized multi-purpose horse, usually a cheaper horse of lesser quality.

Hauberk- a sleeved or partially-sleeved chain mail garment of mid-thigh to knee length.

Heriot- a fee payable to secure the right of succession to land under English law. Similar charge under Norman law was a Relief.

Hide- an area of measurement of land (similar sized parcels were called carucates in some shires) comprised of 4 virgates. A hide theoretically comprised 120 acres although this was somewhat variable. 100 hides made up the shire division of 100, although again this was not immutable.

Huscarle- professional English warrior.

Landboc- the book of ownership that proved ownership of the land.

Laen- a form of land ownership by long-term lease on varying conditions. Usually for life, or ‘for three lives’ (that of the recipient, his widow and heir).

Longbow- a bow of Welsh derivation made of yew wood in a way that made it a naturally composite bow, providing greater power. Depending on the size of the archer, the longbow was usually 5–6 feet long and fired an arrow 39 inches long- a ‘cloth yard’.

Money. English. Pounds, shillings and pence. A gold Mark (not English currency) equaled ?12, or 240 shillings. French. The same system. The denier equaled a penny, 12 deniers to the sou, 20 sous to the livre.

Onager- a simple catapult of Roman design throwing rocks around the size of a man’s head. Used as a siege weapon.

Palfrey- a smallish horse suitable for riding by women.

Pontage- toll fee payable to use a bridge.

Rouncey- an all-round horse, suitable for many uses including general riding and also as light cavalry.

Scale-armour- small plates, usually metal, sewn in an overlapping fashion onto a leather jacket. Provided reasonable protection at lower cost than chain mail, due to the lower labour content.

Seax- English fighting knife, usually large, worn by freemen and freewomen as a sign of their status.

Snekke- Norse word for the normal-sized longship. A fast and maneuverable warship 60 feet long by 9 feet wide with a crew of about fifty, usually with 10 oars a side. Powered by a large square sail or oars.

Tabula- Roman board game similar to Backgammon.

Taxes amp; Charges. Danegeld, English tax levied to bribe the Danes and Norwegians not to attack- levied at two shillings per hide of land prior to 1051. Corvee- unpaid labour provided in lieu of payment. Banalities, fees charged by a lord for use facilities such as a mill. Estovers (the fee for the right to gather wood). Pannage (fee for the right to have pigs eat the acorns in the local forest).

Wergild- The value placed on a life for compensation purposes in England. 200 shillings for a freeman or freewoman, 1,200 shillings for a thegn. No wergild was paid for death of a slave, but compensation of value of the slave was paid.

Witenagemot- Council advising the English king.

Other English words used in this book.

cifes — whore

cifesboren — bastard/ whoreson

galdricge — immodest

grim — fierce

herer?swa — commander

Hlaford — gentlemen

Horsbealdor — Horse-master

nydh?mestre — mistress

scamleast — enchantress

unfrod — inexperienced

unges?lig — accursed

ungleaw — stupid

wealh — foreigner

English social classes. Slaves (theows) at the bottom of the ladder, somewhat less than ten percent of the rural population. Freemen, known collectively as geburs, comprised, in ascending order cottars (who held a cottage from the laenholder or bokholder, in return for 1–2 days a week of labour, and usually worked for pay for the rest of the week). No right of occupation passed on the death of the cottar. Sokemen, held the right to farm collectively-owned village land, and usually also land in his own right, and able to sell or pass

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