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Home » Medieval Term of the Day: Heriot

Medieval Term of the Day: Heriot

Pronunciation:  \hare-E-et\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English heregeatwe, plural, military equipment, from here army (akin to Old High German heri army) + geatwe equipment

a) A payment which a feudal lord may claim from the possessions 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.
b) A death-duty to the lord; in the case of a villein on a manor, usually the best beast.

c) Obligation of unfree families to give up the best ox or livestock or cash equivalent on the death of the tenant.


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