Full Glossary of The Once and Future King
Agincourt a village in Northern France where King Henry V defeated the French in 1415.
alaunts, gaze-hounds, lymers and braches different kinds of hounds.
Alderbaran, Betelgeuse, and Sirius three stars.
Aldermen members of an English borough council.
Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher and pupil of Plato, noted for works on logic, metaphysics, ethics, politics, and so on.
assonances rhymes ("what" and "wat").
astrolabe an instrument used to find the altitudes of stars.
atomy a tiny being.
austringers people who train and fly hawks.
baldrick a belt worn over one shoulder and across the chest to the hip, used to support a sword or horn.
barbican a defensive tower or similar fortification at a gate or bridge leading into a town or castle.
bartizans a small, overhanging turret on a tower or a castle.
beasts of venery animals pursued in hunting.
beys a Turkish title of respect and former title of rank.
blue-stocking a learned, bookish, or pedantic woman.
the book of Sir John de Mandeville (1371) a famous book of travels that also describes fantastic people and creatures that the author claims to have seen in Africa and the Orient.
bosses ornamental projecting pieces, as at the intersection of the ribs of an arched roof.
Boxing Day the first weekday after Christmas, when gifts or "boxes" are given to employees, postmen, and so on.
brachet a hunting dog.
bracken large, coarse, weedy ferns, occurring in meadows, woods, and especially wastelands.
brambles and bindweed and honeysuckle and convolvulus and teazles and the stuff which country people call sweethearts various types of wild plants.
burghers inhabitants of a borough or town.
byres cow barns.
cabalistic pertaining to signs and symbols of secret societies or factions.
canary a fortified wine similar to Madeira, made in the Canary Islands.
cardamom a spice from the seeds of various East Indian plants.
catechism a handbook of questions and answers for teaching the principles of a religion.
chaffinch a small European finch that has a white patch on each shoulder.
char-a-banc a coach.
chine a cut of meat containing part of the backbone.
chitterlings the small intestines of pigs, used for food, usually fried in deep fat.
cigarette cards trading cards that used to be given out in cigarette packs.
Circe the ancient Greek goddess of witchcraft; in The Odyssey, she turns unwitting sailors into swine.
cloisonne pottery and china in which colored enamels are kept separate by thin metal strips.
coney a rabbit.
corkindrill a mythological beast.
the cows were on their gad The cows were wandering aimlessly.
crofter one who rents and works on a small farm.
Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), British Puritan general and Lord Protector of England from 1653-58.
curlew a large, brownish shorebird.
deep in the moult a hawk at a stage of advanced moulting, or shedding its feathers.
dree enduring, suffering.
the drouthy antipodes a group of cold, drafty ("drouthy") islands belonging to New Zealand.
"D'ye ken William Twyti?" "Do you recognize William Twyti?" spoken in a Northern English dialect.
Erasmus Erasmus Desiderius (about 1466-1536), Dutch humanist, scholar, and theologian.
ewers pitchers with wide mouths.
falchion a medieval sword with a short, broad, slightly curved blade.
feudal system the economic, political, and social system in medieval Europe, in which land, worked by serfs who were bound to it, was held by vassals in exchange for military and other services given to overlords.
fewmets the droppings of the prey, used by the hunter to track it.
four long notes of the mort the song played on a hunting horn to announce the death of the prey.
fritillaries butterflies, usually having brownish wings with silver spots on the undersides.
from crupper to poll from the horse's rear to its head.
frumenty a English dish of hulled wheat boiled in milk, sweetened, and flavored with spice.
Gaels the race of Gaelic-speaking Celts, displaced by the Anglo-Saxon invasions in the 5th and 6th centuries.
Gilbert White a minister and observer of nature (1720-1793).
given an angel each an "angel" is a medieval coin bearing a figure of the archangel Michael piercing a dragon.
goshawk a large, swift, powerful hawk with short wings and a long, rounded tail.
greaves pieces of armor that cover the shins.
griffin a mythical monster with the body and hind legs of a lion and the head, wings, and claws of an eagle.
guillemot a shorebird.
heather a type of heath-grass with small purple flowers.
Hecate a goddess of the moon, earth, and underground realm of the dead, later regarded as the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft.
helot one of a class of serfs in ancient Sparta.
Hic, Haec, Hoc a joke by Sir Ector, who is pretending to offer the declension (or breakup of verb tenses) for his drunken hiccup.
hummocks low, rounded hills.
hurdy-gurdy an early instrument shaped like a lute or violin but played by turning a crank attached to a rosined wheel that causes the strings to vibrate.
jerkins a short, closefitting jacket, often sleeveless, or a vest.
jesses straps for fastening around a falcon's leg, with a ring at one end for attaching a leash.
joie de vivre French for "joy of living."
just been taken up from hacking If a hawk is "in hacking," he is not yet allowed to hunt food for itself.
kestrel a small, reddish-gray European falcon.
kestrel a small, reddish-gray falcon, noted for its ability to hover in the air with its head to the wind.
kittiwake a small gull.
a knight errant a knight who wanders in search of adventure.
libbard a mispronunciation of "leopard."
lignum vitae Latin for "wood of life;" a type of tree used to make various medicines.
Linnaeus Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist.
the Little Bear a constellation, also known as the Little Dipper.
lollards any of the followers of John Wycliffe in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England.
Lord Baden-Powell British general (1857-1941), founder of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
the lower strata the lower layer of the atmosphere.
M.F.H. Master of Foxhounds.
mahatmas in India, those of a class of wise and holy persons held in special regard or reverence.
the Marches the borderlands of England and Scotland.
maritime of or relating to sea navigation.
Master of Trinity Dean of Trinity College, Oxford.
mead an alcoholic liquor made of fermented honey and water.
merlins small European or North American falcons with a striped, brownish-red breast.
Metheglyn a spiced or medicated kind of mead (a liquor made from fermented honey and water).
mews cages for hawks.
mews cages for hawks.
midden a dunghill or refuse heap.
milliard a billion.
Miss Edith Cavell (1865-1915); an English nurse executed by the Germans in World War I.
mnemonic a short phrase or sentence used to jog one's memory, such as Every Good Boy Does Fine to recall the five notes (E, G, B, D, F) on the musical scale.
morris dances old folk dances formerly common in England, especially on May Day, in which fancy costumes were worn, often those associated with characters in the Robin Hood legends.
the mort the note sounded on a hunting horn when the quarry is killed.
mullions slender, vertical dividing bars between the lights of windows, doors, and so on.
mutes here, feces.
nigromant a magician.
nob the head.
Norman pertaining to the victors of the Norman Invasion of England (1066); the British kings from William the Conqueror (ruled 1066-1087) to Stephen (ruled 1135-1154) were Norman kings.
oleander a poisonous evergreen shrub.
Organon the title of Aristotle's (384-322 BC) writings on logic and thought.
Orion a constellation named after a mythical hunter.
palfrey a saddle horse.
panoply a complete suit of armor.
partisan a member of an organized civilian force fighting covertly to drive out occupying enemy troops; here, a term used to describe Robin Wood.
Pax a "kiss of peace" in which the combatant surrenders to his opponent.
peregrine a kind of falcon often used for hawking.
peregrines falcons used for hawking.
phoenix a mythological bird that bursts into flame and then rises from its own ashes.
pike a type of freshwater bony fish.
pommel the knob on the end of the hilt of some swords and daggers.
port a strong, sweet wine from Portugal.
portcullis a heavy iron grating suspended by chains and lowered between grooves to bar the gateway of a castle or fortified town.
portent a supernatural warning or hint of danger.
Proserpine the mythical daughter of Zeus, abducted by Pluto to be the Queen of Hades, but allowed to return to the earth for part of the year. She is sometimes used as a personification of Spring.
protista kingdom of organisms including bacteria and protozoa.
Punch and Judy English puppets known for slapstick humor.
purgatory a place of limbo, traditionally believed to be located between Heaven and Hell.
Quaker a member of the Society of Friends, a Christian movement noted for plain dress and simple living.
quintain an object supported by a crosspiece on a post, used by knights as a target in tilting.
redshanks and dunlin types of European sandpipers.
regulars common soldiers.
the richesses of martens, the bevies of roes, the cetes of badgers and the routs of wolves "richesses," "bevies," "cetes," and "routs" are all names for groups of the animals with which they are listed (as in "a school of fish").
rick a stack of hay.
saracen an Arab or Muslim of the time of the Crusades.
satsuma a variety of Japanese pottery.
Saxons a tribe of Germanic warriors who (with the Angles, another Germanic tribe) invaded parts of Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries; here, the word is used by Robin Wood to denote those British people who resisted the Norman invasion of 1066.
sciatica any painful condition in the region of the hip and thigh.
seneschal a steward or major-domo in the household of a medieval noble.
sherries sack or malmsey wine two types of sweet wine.
shrikes predatory, shrill-voiced passerine birds with hooked beaks, gray, black, and white plumage, and long tails.
solar a private or upper chamber.
Some red propaganda "Some communist propaganda."
Spartan military mess Sparta was a city in ancient Greece, famous for the strict discipline of its soldiers. A "mess" is a mess hall, where soldiers eat.
standards, banners, pennons, pennoncells, banderolls, guidons, streamers and cognizances different decorative flags and ribbons used to adorn the castle.
stoat a kind of ermine, or weasel, whose fur is often used for coats and robes.
stridulation the sound made by a grasshopper.
subaltern in the British military, holding an army commission below that of captain.
Summulae Logicales a treatise on logic by Pope John XXI, written in the thirteenth century.
sward grass-covered soil.
tack gear; equipment.
tiercels male hawks.
tilting the sport of jousting, whereby two riders attempted to unhorse each other by charging at each other and hitting their opponents with lances.
Timor Mortis Conturbant Me Latin, "The fear of death disturbs me."
Timor Mortis Exultat Me Latin, "The fear of death overjoys me."
tippet a scarf-like garment of fur, wool, etc. for the neck and shoulders, hanging down in front; historically worn by judges or religious officials.
tracery stone ornamental open-work found in castle windows.
truncheon a short, thick club used by policemen.
tumulus an artificial mound.
tussocks thick tufts or clumps of grass.
twenty-two stone 308 pounds (a British "stone" equals 14 pounds).
the undoing in hunting, the removal of one's arrows from the prey.
vespers the sixth of the seven canonical hours, or the service for it occurring in the late afternoon or early evening.
villein any of a class of feudal serfs who by the thirteenth century had become freemen in their legal relations to all except their lord, to whom they remained subject as slaves.
W. H. Hudson English naturalist and writer (1841-1922).
wattle and daub interlaced twigs and rods, plastered with mud or clay to make walls or roofs.
a wattling of tripe a roof made of tripe, or cow's stomach.
Weyve a female outlaw.
widgeon a freshwater duck.
yarak a state of prime fitness in a hawk.