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The Golden Gloss

The medieval glossary of English (old/middle/modern) words as used in the middle ages. Of highlight are words misunderstood or unknown to the general public (or newer participants.)

UPDATED 09/01/2023

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There are currently 4 terms in this directory beginning with the letter M.
When the battlements are build so they overhand the structure they are atop, such as a wall or the edge of a tower, and frequently including gaps or slits along the base which serve a similar purpose to crenellations, allowing the defenders a protected place from which to attack the enemy by dropping objects or with projectile weapons.

Mail (armor)
Often erroneously referred to as "chainmail," a form of armor consisting of interlocking metal rings which were riveted closed and woven into garments similar in shame to many garments made from fabric, such as shirts and skirts. The name is derived from the French maille, which mean net.

Messuage [13th/14th c.]
In the feudal context it is a measure of land adjacent to a residence for agricultural and outbuilding purposes and is referenced in legal records when accounting for the land holdings of freemen and tenants (such as "Joe Serf, one half virgate and messuage.") It is unclear as to whether the size of a messuage was regulated in any way, but as records are specific to the acre in places, it is believes the messuage was an area less than an acre. The messuage was for personal use, such as a garden, small husbandry like chickens, and outbuildings. A modern equivalent would be the curtilage of a small single family home on a .5 - 1 acre city lot. The messuage would sometimes be enclosed with a fence, hedge, or small wall.

Messuage [post 15th c.]
Over time, and as feudalism declined, the term began to associate more strongly with the dwelling itself than with the land adjacent to it (see above.) Later uses of the word are more accurately akin to a small "farmstead" than a unit of land measure.


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