One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person who holds land as the vassal of a person who himself or herself holds the land as a vassal; a subvassal.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in Ephraim Chambers (?1680–1740), encyclopaedist. From French arrière-vassal from arrière behind + vassal.
arrière vassal/ˌarɪɛː ˈvasl/
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