One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The steward or major-domo of a medieval great house.
attendant, retainerView synonyms
- ‘The seneschal began presumably by being the major-domo of the German barbarian princes who settled in the empire, and was therefore the predecessor of the mayors of the palace of the Merovingian kings.’
- ‘In the great medieval households of bygone days the Seneschal was in charge of the castle, estate or home.’
- ‘Originally purely a household officer, the task of the steward, or seneschal, was to place dishes on the royal table, but like many comparable offices it gathered other duties and rose in prestige.’
2A governor or other administrative or judicial officer.
- ‘To oversee his baillis and seneschals, Louis instituted enquêteurs, travelling inspectors-general who were authorized to investigate abuses by royal officials and redress grievances.’
- ‘The seneschals were much like baillis but they were given border territories that required frequent military action.’
- ‘‘Death by hanging, your Majesty,’ the seneschal immediately responded, a grave tone to his rich voice.’
- ‘A quick visit to the King's seneschal confirmed that he could indeed reclaim his men, and that they would be dispatched to the manor at Cosh that afternoon.’
- ‘First, her identity as a knight is determined by her relation to Amoret, which has been secured by her martial victory over her rival and affirmed by the court's seneschal.’
Middle English: from Old French, from medieval Latin seniscalus, from a Germanic compound of words meaning ‘old’ and ‘servant’.
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