Glossary: Terms used in Anglo-Norman Royal Charters

Based primarily on Webb, Records, v I pg. 63ff. I have modernized his language in some cases, and added more information when I didn't have his level of familiarity with Anglo-Norman property rights.


a local court, composed of landowners (at least at the time of the charter)


a fine paid to the alderman or king, as punishment for the shedding of blood

-bryce (or -briche) 

generic term for a violation or breech


a fine paid to a lord, as punishment for impregnating one of the lord's bondwomen


an annual tax imposed for the first time in the 10th or 11th centuries, to raise funds for protection from the Danes; continued after the Conquest as a generic land tax


feudal land reserved by the lord of the manor for his own use, as opposed to that property granted to serfs or tenants; in the charter, St. Bartholomew the Great is designated a demesne chapel of the Crown, exempt from many forms of taxation and public service


a fine paid for the crime of avoiding a military expedition; also defined as a release from murder committed in the army


a fine paid for disturbing the peace

Flemenfred (also flymanfyrmth)

sheltering a fugitive or outlaw


apparently at this time period, the king had the right to select provender from the markets before anyone else. This fine was paid if the guilty party selected the food required by the king.


the right to grant sanctuary (asylum) to accused criminals

Gridbriche (also Gridbrice)

breach of the peace


tax paid to the crown

Hamesucken (Hamsocn)

burglary or other attack on a man's house; also the fine charged for such a crime


money contributed towards the payment of a royal customs charge or other duty on goods


a fine paid for hanging a thief without due process; or for hanging a thief who escaped from custody


an "extraordinary" tax (one charged in times of unusual need), assessed by the king based on the amount of land held by a property owner. A hide is a unit of tax assessment (not land measurement in the modern sense) dating back to the Anglo-Saxons.

Hundred Court

In Anglo-Saxon times, shires (roughly equivalent to local counties) were divided into hundreds for ease of government and administration. The Hundred Court was comprised of local "substantial men," able to resolve pleas and disputes.


a tax levied within a hundred


the right of a local lord to judge a thief captured on his property


a payment made to the holder of a fair or market, allowing goods to be carried freely

Leergwite (Leirwite)

a fine paid to a lord, in punishment for having sex with the lord's bondwoman


an error or change in testimony before a court; also the fine charged for making such an error (I don't know if this is equivalent to the modern crime of perjury). Related to Miskenynge, the changing of speech in court.


violation of anything taken under royal guardianship or wardship; Webb says his definition is speculative.


the right of a local lord to pursue a thief outside the boundaries of his own property (an early version of extradition?)


food eaten by pigs, from forests (acorns and truffles, maybe); therefore the right to keep herds of swine in a particular forest


fee paid for transport across a river or an ocean [does not appear in Webb's translation of the charter, although term is implied in the clause "in all passing of roads or bridges"]


contribution paid for a road or highway to be paved; therefore the right to collect such fees


contribution paid for the construction and maintenance of a bridge

Sac and soc

explicit right of jurisdiction granted to the lord of a manor, by the Crown or its representative; gives the lord the right to try cases and to collect fees imposed based on the court's decision


(early: showing?) Webb says "identification," but use of this word in other places suggests "demonstrating" might be more accurate. Maybe the right to validate identity, or the accuracy of a document? [Also note: at this point in transcribing Webb's wordlist, I've noticed that some of the words are spelled differently in the charter text than they are in the glossary.]


generic term for a fee or tax


cash payment to a lord, in exchange for the military service incurred as part of the feudal relationship

Shire Courts

the county court held by the sheriff; the court of appeals for disputed decisions by the hundred court (but no formalized appeal process existed, at least not in the modern sense)


suffix indicating the right to collect fees; may also indicate the right to grant sanctuary or protect


fee paid for the right to hold a stall at a fair or market

Thol and Theam

a court's jurisdiction over "foreigners," any person not resident in the locality (judging by this discussion, the definition is not as universally accepted as Webb implies)


taxes paid to a town or market [included in Webb's glossary, but not used in translation of charter]

Utlepe (Uthleap)

fine paid as punishment for letting a captured criminal escape

Wapentake Courts

"wapentake" is a northern synonym for "hundred," so these are the local courts in the northern parts of England


exempted from the payment normally required in lieu of service as a guard


money paid in exchange for service as a guard (also guard-penny)


punishment without the benefit of trial in the King's Court. Webb states this is probably equivalent to Theftbote, which is defined as "compensation for the loss of stolen goods."


Webb says "Wyta was a fine or punishment for slight offences; Wera for graver offences."

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