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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘In the great medieval households of bygone days the Seneschal was in charge of the castle, estate or home.’
2A governor or other administrative or judicial officer.
- ‘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.’
- ‘‘Death by hanging, your Majesty,’ the seneschal immediately responded, a grave tone to his rich voice.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
Middle English: from Old French, from medieval Latin seniscalus, from a Germanic compound of words meaning ‘old’ and ‘servant’.
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