One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in a feudal society) money paid by a vassal to his lord in lieu of military service.
- ‘By the 13th cent. the arrangements were unravelling as lords increasingly paid scutage rather than perform knight service and vassals tried to commute their own obligations.’
- ‘It was normally possible to make a payment, known as scutage or shield money, in place of performing feudal military service.’
- ‘By that time too, inflation of around 50 percent had made scutage valueless, and it was no longer collected, although it was not abolished until 1660.’
- ‘Most of the head tenants and some of the under tenants held on condition of knight service, later commuted into a money payment in lieu of service called scutage.’
Late Middle English: from medieval Latin scutagium, from Latin scutum ‘shield’.
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