The Britannia Lexicon

BACHELOR :
journeyman, or craftsman who has not yet achieved master status; the junior members of guilds or fraternities without their own businesses.

BAILEY (or ward):
courtyard within walls of a castle.

BALDECHINO :
canopy over altar, supported on columns.

BALLFLOWER :
petalled globelike ornament, used as decoration in early 14th century.

BALLISTA :
siege engine in the form of a large bow for shooting missiles, usually iron bolts

BALUSTER :
small column or pilaster used as a support to a rail.

BAN :
king's power to command and prohibit under pain of punishment or death, mainly used because of a break in the King's Peace. Also a royal proclamation, either of a call to arms, or a decree of outlawry. In clerical terms, an excommunication on condemnation by the church.

BANALITIES :
fees which a feudal lord imposes on his serfs for the use of his mill, oven, wine press, or similar facilities. It some times includes part of a fish catch or the proceeds from a rabbit warren.

BANNERET :
knightly rank often granted in the field for conspicuous valour: a knight fielding vassals under his own banner.

BARBICAN :
outward continuation of a gateway or entrance, erected to defend it, often in the form of a walled passage without roof.

BARBER-SURGEON :
monastic who shaves faces/heads and performs light surgery.

BARD :
minstrel or poet who glorifies the virtues of the people and chieftains.

BARMKIN :
outer defensive walling (generally Scottish).

BARON :
vassal who holds directly from the crown and serves as a member of the king's great council. It is not, of itself, a title, but rather a description of the Tenants in Chief class of nobility.

BARONS of the CINQ PORTS :
the civic officers of the jurisdictional liberty known as the Cinq Ports, who provided ships for the king's service in return for their privileges.

BAROQUE :
large-scale, forceful and original treatment of Renaissance architecture, associated with Vanbrugh, Hawksmoor and Archer.

BARREL VAULT :
semi-circular roof of stone, or timber.

BARROW :
ancient, earthen burial mound.

BARTIZAN :
small turret corbelled out from corner or flank of a tower or wall.

BASTION :
another word for tower or turret projecting from a wall length or at the junction of two walls.

BATTER :
sloping, or splayed, part of a wall, particularly of a great tower or an enclosing curtain.

BATTLEMENTS (or crenellation):
the parapet of a tower or wall with indentations, or openings (embrasures or crenelles) alternating with solid projections (merlons).

BEADSMAN :
petitioner, or a person who seeks a favour of some kind. Normally used of a social inferior, in relation to a superior.

BEAKHEAD :
Norman enrichment formed of crudely shaped heads having beaks.

BEARING SHEET :
the winding sheet, normally of woollen cloth, in which a corpse was wrapped in preparation for burial.

BELTANE EVE :
the night of April 30, one of the two times of the year when mortal rules are believed to be suspended and supernatural occurrences are most common. Sometimes called May Day Eve. See Samhain Eve.

BELFRY :
tall, moveable wooden tower on wheels, used in sieges.

BENEDICTINES :
monastic order founded by St. Benedictine. Monks take vows of personal poverty, chastity and obedience to their abbot and the Benedictine Rule.

BENEFICE (L. beneficium):
grant of land given to a member of the aristocracy, a Bishop, or a monastery, for limited or hereditary use in exchange for services. In ecclesiastic terms, a benefice is a church office that returns revenue. Also known as a the fee, feud, or fief coming from the Germanic feofum which comes from the Frankish "fehu" and "od" meaning live stock and movable possessions or property "chattel".

BENEFIT of CLERGY :
privilege enjoyed by members of the clergy, including tonsured clerks, placing them beyond the jurisdiction of secular courts.

BERM :
horizontal space between a curtain or tower and its moat.

BEZANT :
gold or silver coin or plain disk used on clothes or coats of arms.

BILLET :
Norman moulding formed by cutting a moulding in notches, resembling short wooden billets arranged in rows.

BLACK CANONS :
common name for Augustinian Canons, derived from the color of their robes.

BLACK MONKS :
common name for members of the Benedictine Order derived from the color of the habits.

BLIND ARCADE :
an arcade enriching a wall hut unpicreed.

BLIND TRACERY :
tracery sunk in the solid not perforated.

BONDING :
masonry effecting a union of walling either through or otherwise

BOROUGH (also burg, burgh and burh):
town with the right of self-government granted by royal charter.

BOROUGH-ENGLISH :
term which designates the custom of ultimogeniture (All lands inherited by the youngest son).

BOSS :
carved ornament placed at the intersections of ribs in a vault either in wood or Stone.

BOX PEW :
enclosed pew with door and high partitions, much favoured in 18th century.

BRACE :
in carpentry, any oblique piece used to brace or bind the principal timbers of a frame.

BRAGGET :
drink of honey and ale fermented together.

BRATTISHING :
carved openwork in a parapet, a crest or battlement.

BREHON LAWS (also called Feinechus):
ancient Gaelic legal system.

BRESSUMMER BEAM :
the lower beam of the front of a gallery upon which the frame of the floor is supported.

BROACH SPIRE :
earliest type of spire, where the tower rises direct into the spire without parapet or pinnacles; the broach' is the sloping triangular piece of masonry connecting the angle of the square tower with the adjacent face of the octagonal spire.

BULLNOSE MOULDING :
rounded or obtuse moulding.

BURGESS :
the holder of land or house within a borough.

BUTTRESS :
projecting pillar on wall added to strengthen it.




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