Medieval Glossary


In a feudal sense one of the two main obligations of a vassal to his lord. The primary implication of aid was military service or help. A vassal might have to fight for the lord when summoned. Often, however, the vassal would instead have to appear with certain military arms to serve for a specified period of time, usually forty days, after which he would have to be compensated. Vassals could also be required to defend the lord's castle or possibly to allow the lord to use his own castle in times of war. A powerful vassal might be required to provide a certain number of soldiers or knights to the lord. Whenever the vassal was unable to serve, he would either need to find a substitute or pay a special tax.

Aid also required that a vassal make a payment to his lord on certain occasions. Aid was automatically required when the lord's eldest son was knighted, when the lord's eldest daughter was married, and in the case that the lord should need to be ransomed at any point in time. An aid might also be collected in certain emergency situations.

Finally, a lord was also entitled to visit and be fed by his vassal because of his right to entertainment (droit de gîte). During the later parts of the Middle Ages, the allowances of the visit (such as the visit's length and the number of visitors) became specifically defined.

The other main obligation of a vassal to his lord is counsel.

Related term(s): Counsel; Feudal Obligation; Feudalism; Vassal; Lord; Ransom
Category: Feudalism
Added: 12.03.04
Last modified: 12.31.04
Source information: Herlihy, David, ed. The History of Feudalism. New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1970. 72-3.


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