Elizabethan Dictionary

Atteint: a French word used to award points during a joust

Azure: in heraldry, a rich colour blue.

Bear and Ragged Staff: the Dudley family heraldry device.

Berfrois: a viewing stand for Jousting Tournaments.

The Brays: a series of fields surrounded by the outer curtain wall of the Castle. Usually it was used to graze sheep and horses, thus keeping them safe.

Castle constable: the man responsible for Castle security and in charge of the Castle when the lord was away.

Charger: a lighter, more manoeuvrable type of warhorse.

Chevauchée: a type of guerrilla warfare that included pillaging, burning and plundering a region in order to weaken it. Popular in medieval times, it was used by Will the Conqueror as well as in the Hundred Years war.

Dais: from Middle English deis. A raised platform in a large room or hall. Typically, a monarch or lord would put a throne or chair on the platform to make it easier to speak to the entire audience.

Destrier: a very heavy type of warhorse.

Dissolution of the Monestaries: After breaking away from the Catholic church in Rome, King Henry VIII confiscated many Catholic monasteries and their lands for the crown.

Doublet: a man’s snug-fitting, waist-length, buttoned jacket.

Excommunication: banishment from the Catholic church.

Favourite: the intimate companion of a ruler or noble. As Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, Robert Dudley was given considerable power, lands and titles.

Farthing: a coin valued at one quarter of a penny.

Fie: a Middle English exclamation of dismay.

Fletcher: a craftsman who makes arrows.

Fool: a person who provides entertainment in the house of a noble or for the Monarch acting as a jester, clown or buffoon.

Fustian: a coarse cloth woven of cotton.

Groat: an old English coin worth four pennies.

Hart: a male deer, especially the red deer.

Kirtle: an outer garment worn over a smock. Looks like a dress.

Lintel: a load-bearing block found over doors and windows.

Lute: a stringed instrument with a neck that looks somewhat like a mandolin or small guitar.

Marshal or stable master: the man responsible for the stables.

Master of Horse: an important official of the Queen’s household; in charge of the Queen’s horses and hounds. As part of this position, Dudley also spent much time with the Queen planning her entertainments, travel, events, and progresses.

Mayblossom: an old word for the hawthorn tree.

Mere: a lake or body of fresh water.

Page: the first stage in a boy’s training to become a knight, commonly beginning at age 7 or so. A young boy attended a knight or noble running messages, serving at the table, cleaning, studying religion and learning to read and write. Physical activity was also important. They were taught swimming, wrestling, dancing and some basic weapons training. But when training on the quintain to learn jousting, they used a wooden horse on wheels, only using a real horse when they were older.

Palfrey: a saddle-horse for day-to-day riding.

Papist: someone who follows the Catholic faith.

Pilloried: to tie to a post and whip in public.

Pomander: a tiny ball or case which held perfume or fragrant herbs or musk or spice which the Elizabethans held to their nose to cover noxious odours or ward off infection.

Portcullis: a heavy gate of metal and wood lowered to bar entry to a Castle.

Pottage: a thick soup or stew.

Primero: a card game a lot like poker

Privy garden: a private garden planted by Dudley for the sole use of the Queen when she visited.

Progress: a popular way for Kings and Queens to get away from the heat and plague that often found its way to London in the summer. The monarch took the entire court and went on a tour of the countryside, staying with their favourite nobles along the way.

Quillons: a cross-guard on a sword that protects the hand is a bar of metal at right angles to the blade, placed between the blade and the hilt.

Small ale: in Elizabethan times, water was unsafe to drink. Water was made safe to drink by the fermentation process of making alcoholic drinks. In their day-to-day lives, most people drank a low (‘small’) alcohol fraction of ale.

Soutane: a black cassock worn by Jesuit priests.

Squire: the second stage in a boy’s training to be a knight, commonly beginning around age 14 or 15. A squire cared for the knight’s horse, armour, and weapons but also acted as a servant and errand runner. Often the squire would accompany his knight into battle giving him the chance to prove himself.

Tabor: a type of snare drum.

The Pleasance: an ancient palace on the north western edge of the great mere built by King Henry V.

Tilting: another word for jousting. Knights use lances to try knocking each other off their horses.

Tiltyard: an enclosed courtyard for jousting.

Vespers Tournament: a joust between squires. Usually held the day before a jousting tournament proper.

Wyvern: a mythical creature with a dragon’s head, two legs and a barbed tail. Used in heraldry by the Borough of Leicester in the 1600s.


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