Definition of vassal in English:


Line breaks: vas¦sal
Pronunciation: /ˈvas(ə)l


  • 1A holder of land by feudal tenure on conditions of homage and allegiance.
    More example sentences
    • Liege homage involved the vassal admitting his obligation to pay all services, including the provision of military assistance.
    • These oath-takings are critical to Tolkien's mythologising of the past because they reproduce the feudal bonds that a vassal pays to his liege lord.
    • In the feudal relationship, a vassal owed loyalty and service to a lord according to the terms of their personal agreement.
    villein, liege, liegeman, man, bondsman, vavasour, serf, helot, slave, thrall, subject
  • 1.1A person or country in a subordinate position to another: [as modifier]: a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire
    More example sentences
    • The last king, who possessed only the land on the right bank of the Bosna, sought to strengthen his position by becoming a vassal of the pope.
    • About 800 years ago it was also the site of the legendary vassal state, the Western Xia Kingdom, which was finally conquered by Genghis Khan.
    • A restored Stuart monarchy would have made Britain a vassal state of France.



More example sentences
  • The fief overshadowed fealty, the benefice became more important than vassalage, and freemen began to swear allegiance to the highest bidder only.
  • In 1163, he attempted to firmly define his rights as feudal overlord of the Welsh princes by demanding oaths of vassalage from them at the Council of Woodstock.
  • He understood the practice of European vassalage and the importance attached to an oath taken to an lord.


late Middle English: via Old French from medieval Latin vassallus 'retainer', of Celtic origin; compare with vavasour.

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