Definition of amercement in English:



English Law
  • A fine:

    ‘courts continued to impose small amercements’
    [mass noun] ‘default resulted in heavy amercement’
    • ‘Each is to levy and collect all fines, rents, farms and amercements due from his ward and execute, diligently and without fraud or negligence, all commands and instructions occurring in relation to his ward.’
    • ‘In 1464 the Colchester bailiffs dismissed one of their sergeants for concealing private quarrels from the court, settling them himself, and pocketing the amercements, as well as for refusing to obey the orders of the bailiffs.’
    • ‘In other actions the unsuccessful party has to pay an amercement for making an unjust, or resisting a just claim; the defendant found guilty of trespass is fined and imprisoned.’
    • ‘The tenant is also to receive a serious amercement for his trespass in disobeying the bailiffs.’
    • ‘Justice, for example, a major source of royal income by the end of the twelfth century, could be exploited in this way because a large number of people existed to pay fines and amercements.’


Late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French amerciment, based on estre amercie be at the mercy of another (with respect to the amount of a fine), from a merci at (the) mercy.