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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).

Vassal(l)age, Wasselag(e, n. Also: vassaleg(e, vassalledge, -adge, wassalag(e, -edge, wassallage, vasselage, vassolag(e, wassolage, vassyllage, wassillage, wassilaige, vasealage, wesselage, vaslage, waslage, waslege. [ME and e.m.E. vasshelage, vassalage (both Manning), vasselage (c1400), vassailage (1594), vassallage (1665), OF vassal(l)age, vas(s)elage, vessalaige.]

1. Bravery, valour, courageous or spirited action or behaviour such as befits a vassal or knight, esp. as displayed in warfare; military prowess. Also personified. Also const. to do and, once, pl. b. To win vassalage, to achieve honour in battle, to obtain the rewards deserved by such conduct. Also transf. c. transf. A wicked or shameful act of violence.(1) 1375 Barb. vi 22.
All forwonderyt was How ony man sa sodanly Mycht do so gret chewalry As did the king … War he nocht owtrageous hardy He had nocht wnabasytly Sa smertly sene his awantage. I drede that his gret wassalag [C. wassalage] And his trawaill may bring till end That at men quhile full litill wend
?1438 Alex. ii 9334.
Thare was sene … mony gude knicht douchty of deid, That war fulfilled of vassalage
a1500 Rauf C. 887.
The tane [sc. Rauf] is in power to mak that presoun For that war na wassalage, sum men wald say
1492 Myll Spect. 282/19.
This ȝung maid … saw the gret vassalege & semelynes of this king Mynos
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 109/10.
Welcum … incomparable knight, The fame of armys, and floure of vassalage
1531 Bell. Boece I 60.
Sum of his capitanis, for thair provin vassalage, war promovit to publik officis
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 135.
He … detestit thair slak corage and decaying fra the vassallage of thair eldaris
1533 Boece 295a.
Saxons ar nocht notit with sic vassalage that nane vthir dar recounter thame in feild
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 78.
He was bot twentie ȝeiris of age, Quhen he began his uassalage
1567 Sat. P. iv 141.
Deianira hir husband Hercules … Brocht to mischeif, for all his vassalage
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 26.
The erle of Argyl being lieutenant of the Queynis camp, shew nather curage nor vassalage at this conflict
c1650 Spalding I 182.
The barronis, seing thay culd not mend thame selffis, left the houss, thinking it no vassalage to stay whill thay war slayne
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 108.
The Mackdonells came no more here to trye their vassalage upon the Frasers
(b) 1375 Barb. x 270.
He knew his worthi wasselage … Tharfor in him affyit he And ryche maid him off land & fe
1375 Barb. xvi 4.
Quhen schyr Eduuard … Had discomfyt Richard of Clar And of Irland all the barnage Thris throw his worthi wasselag
1456 Hay I 280/4.
As gif a knycht of Almane wald cum to se nobles in Fraunce, as tournaymentis or othir wasselage
(c) 1375 Barb. i 290.
He wes off gret waslage. Hys fadyr dede he wengyt sua That in Ingland I wnderta Wes nane off lyve that hym ne dred
c1475 Wall. ii 3.
Ȝong Wallace … Thi waslage may neuir be forlorn Thi deidis are knawin
1533 Bell. Livy I 152/25 (B) (see (d) below). 1554 Misc. Bann. C. III 76.
He led lang lyfe, and was ane man of he waslege in feildis
(d) 1460 Hay Alex. 269.
Quha wald haue honour conquest or victorie Wirschip hie vassaleg or chaualrie Thame neidis nane vther teching … Bot this storie to be to thame mirrour
1460 Hay Alex. 844.
1533 Bell. Livy I 51/7.
His flurisant ȝouth, his mychty strenth of body, the glore of his vailȝeant antecessouris, enforcit him to wirk sum notabil and marciall vassalege
1533 Bell. Livy I 152/19, 25.
Off the hardy vassalege [B. vaslage] done be Chelia the Romane virgin … Becaus vertew was honorit in this wise it gaif occasioun to wemen to do gay vassalege [B. honest waslage] … This Chelia … come throw the army of Ethruschis [etc.]
a1585 Arbuthnot in Maitl. Q. 127/45.
Vaine braggis and boist is reknit vassalege And wode folie is hauldin hardines
(e) a1500 Lanc. 257.
The gret pasing vassolag He escheuit, throue the outragous curag, In conquiryng of the sorowful castell
a1500 Lanc. 2706.
Thar was the batell furyous … Thar schew the lord sir Ywan his curage, His manhed, & his noble wassolage
a1500 Lanc. 2722.
(f) 1513 Doug. v iv 131.
Or thai thar lawd suld loys or vassyllage [Ruddim. vassallage] Thai had far levir lay thar lyfe in wage
1531 Bell. Boece (M) II 39.
(g) 1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 182.
(h) a1578 Pitsc. I 153/1.
He was of tender aige and could not wse no wassaledge nor feit of weiris
(2) ?1438 Alex. i 2429.
The king and Tholomeir War reddy for to do vassalage
1456 Hay I 54/10.
Day was sett of bataill, in the quhilk to count all the vasselage that thare was done on ayther syde
c1475 Wall. i 158.
In armys syne did mony hie waslage
1531 Bell. Boece I 126.
The wiffis … wer set in cartis … to beir witnes quhay didde maist vassalage [M. wassallage]
1533 Bell. Livy I 158/24.
The consullis tryumphit mare for the scharpe revengeing of thare haitrent than for any grete vassalege [B. vaslage] be thame done
a1568 Bann. MS 48a/13.
Remembir als the strang & he vaslage He did for thé to bring thy saule to peis
1571 J. Maitland in Sat. P. xxvii 106.
Mark … The vertew, word, worschip, and wassilaige Of sic as dochtelie did … [Maitl. Q. 139/82, vassalledge] To keip this realme from thraldome and boundage
a1578 Pitsc. II 118/18.
The quein of Ingland send ane gret navie … quha landit in Orknay and thocht to haue done sum wassallage thair
a1605 Birrel Diary 37.
The laird of Buccleugh past to the castell of Carleill with 70 men … with shouting and crying, and sound of trumpet, puttand the said toune and countrie in sic ane fray, that the lyk of sic ane wassaledge wes nevir done since the memorie of man, no in Wallace dayis
c1650 Spalding I 23.
The earle of Murray … rejoyced … at this vassallage done be his men
pl. 1622-6 Bisset II 113/11.
Alane Stewarte … did mony vassalages against the Turkis
personified c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iv 567.
Scho callit hir knichtis befoir hir euer ilkane … Ȝouth, Wantones, Vassalage, and Blyithnes [etc.]
b. c1475 Wall. v 432.
The thrid scho held becaus he lakit age, In wer as than mycht nocht wyn wesselage
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 416.
Think weill, throw ȝour hie courage, This day ȝe sall wyn vassalage
a1586 Kamington 42.
Efter he had win monie wassalage, His fois, allace, ouercame him in the end
transf. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 2308.
Scho tuke in heid ane vther to assaill … ane man of tender age In lustis bour for to win vassalage
c. 1531 Bell. Boece II 274.
Edrik tuk purpos to attempt ane hardy vassalage to cum in favour … to ane of thir two princis. This Edrik … quhen king Edmond was sittand at his eis … [gaif him] ane straik [etc.] … Edrik efter this schamefull slauchter [etc.]
1570 Sat. P. xiii 132.
His fatheris murther also ȝe cleirly knew, Myschantly hangit, ane wickit vassalage

2. In legal usage: The duties or servitude required of one holding land as a vassal. Also attrib. 1654 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 141.
That all dominion of tenures and superiorities importing servitude and vassallage may lykwayes be abolishit in Scotland … that all heretors … shall … hold their … lands … vnder such yeerly rents, boones and annuall services as are … due by any deads [etc.] … without rendering … any other duetie, service, vassalladge or demand
attrib. 1652 Acts VI ii 800/2.
To certify vnto this committee the nature of the vassalage and bondage tenures and seruices of the people of Scotland, and what the same and the feu duties are in particuler

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"Vassalage n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2022 <>



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