While studying for a research paper about galley warfare I’ve come across a medley of interesting historical naval terms, all of which an author of realistic fantasy might find useful. The source for these terms is Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century by John Francis Guilmartin Jr, 1974, Great Britain, Cambridge University Press. Note: I have left out a host of terms for different cannons and seagoing vessels for these will be listed in upcoming posts. Here I define the meaning of: arraez, buenas boyas, presidio, azab, ciurmi, guerre de course, forzati, gente de cualidad, ghazi, scapoli, maryol, sipahi & timar.
From “deshaché” and “esteté” to “decressant” and “bretesse,” I imagine these heraldic terms from medieval coats of arms would be especially useful to the literary grimdark or litHEMA fantasy writer. Though these heraldic words were originally used by French-speaking nobility across Europe to describe the layout of coats of arms or the garnishes of achievements, it’s easy to recycle them to artistically augment today’s literary fiction. I’ve proven this by adding a fictional example to each definition, and while many of these words were originally used as adverbs, it’s easy to restylize them into adjectives, or, when full liberty’s permitted, even nouns. I believe these words would be especially useful in the grimdark or litHEMA genres, as they have the potential to add realism to medieval fantasy. They’d also be extremely useful in historical fiction, as they’d surely add a literary touch if used carefully in the right places (unlike I’ve done with my humorous examples LOL). Each word’s been patiently gleaned from A New Dictionary of Heraldry (1739).
Here’s yet another thing that proves medieval people were much more sophisticated than we give them credit for–a long list of materials used in clothing, bedding, napery and drapery (with pictures).
Welcome! Military words like danegeld and scutage have been reserved for an upcoming list about medieval laws and crimes. Similarly words like centenar, turcopole and mameluke, aside from a few favorite titles, have been saved for an upcoming list about medieval titles and peerages. Likewise for your patience words like portcullis, trebuchet, loophole and other obvious terms have been excluded. Also, terms like cri de coeur and coup de grâce which are brilliant for military applications have been reserved for a separate list about English terms that are clearly not English. I should also mention that words like caliver and baselard, not to mention many pieces of armor, have of course been reserved for future lists about ancient, medieval and renaissance arms and armor. Again, seafaring terms, castle terms and HEMA terms have all been for the most part excluded for the aforementioned reason.
Somewhere in the Caribbean a sword fight ensues between two exclamation- and interjection-loving roisterers.
See what kind of interesting and archaic words they use to express how they feel.
Adossé (from heraldry) “back to back” – Example: His coat-armor emblazoned two lions adossé. Affronté / Confronté (from heraldry) “facing one another” … More
Inspired by the 11th century coat of plates, a brigandine is a 12th to 16th century vest or jacket of armor. It consists of many metal plates held together by a sturdy textile. Many times in history the plates were small, overlapping and hidden under fabric. In movies and videogames today, however, the most popular version of a brigandine is a long coat of canvas covered with visible rectangular plates (somewhat similar to the Japanese kikko in appearance).
Whether you’re a poet looking for words that start with L or a student trying to understand what a lazarette … More
VINTENAR Vintenar means, in medieval England, a leader of a score of footmen, more specifically a leader of twenty draft … More
This is not a historical lesson with dates and events, but a mechanical lesson to explain the physical differences between … More
The other day I added guar to my Book of Words. Then I thought, wait … am I getting guar … More
Palfrey – a compliable horse for casual riding, especially by women. Mule, hinny – the offspring of a male donkey and a … More
An estoc, used from the 14th to the 17th century, is an edgeless two-handed sword designed specifically for fighting against … More
Worn over a skirt of maille, a fauld is a piece of armor that sits under a breastplate, corresponding to a ‘culet’ which sits under the backplate on the other side (although in early medieval times, culets were rarely worn as maille over the arse was deemed ‘good enough’). A fauld consists of steel lames connected by strips of leather, albeit other less popular methods were sometimes used to connect them. The leather strips allow expansion and contraction, which is absolutely necessary because the fauld needs to contract when the wearer mounts a horse. Oftimes, additional ‘tassets’ were hinged to the bottom of faulds to hang over the ‘cuisses’ and provide additional protection for thighs.
A swordbreaker is a dagger or shortsword with deep notches on one side of the blade, used for catching and grappling … More
Used historically by militia in the Franco-Flemish War of the 14th century, the goedendag is the combination of a club and a … More