- (in the feudal system) a person granted the use of land, in return for rendering homage, fealty, and usually military service or its equivalent to a lord or other superior; feudal tenant.
- a person holding some similar relation to a superior; a subject, subordinate, follower, or retainer.
- a servant or slave.
- of, relating to, or characteristic of a vassal.
- having the status or position of a vassal.
Origin of vassal
Examples from the Web for vassals
The kiss also served as a sign of trust between feudal lords and vassals.The History of Kissing
February 13, 2011
When he ceased, all the vassals showed their approval of this speech.Welsh Fairy Tales
William Elliott Griffis
The sons of vassals were sent to the castle of the suzerain to be brought up with his sons.English Villages
P. H. Ditchfield
We are the tools or vassals of the rich men behind the scenes.Commercialism and Journalism
With two sons, however, who are about to enter the Guards, I am afraid we must be your vassals.Vivian Grey
Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
Ma foi, you and yours do not deserve to be treated as anything but vassals.The Trampling of the Lilies
- (in feudal society) a man who entered into a personal relationship with a lord to whom he paid homage and fealty in return for protection and often a fief. A great vassal was in vassalage to a king and a rear vassal to a great vassal
- a person, nation, etc, in a subordinate, suppliant, or dependent position relative to another
- (as modifier)vassal status
- of or relating to a vassal
Word Origin and History for vassals
mid-15c. (c.1200 as a surname) "tenant who pledges fealty to a lord," from Old French vassal, from Medieval Latin vassallus "manservant, domestic, retainer," from vassus "servant," from Old Celtic *wasso- "young man, squire" (cf. Welsh gwas "youth, servant," Breton goaz "servant, vassal, man," Irish foss "servant"). The adjective is recorded from 1590s.
Under feudalism, a subordinate who placed himself in service to a lord in return for the lord's protection.