Home         Presentations Notebook History Contact Us
Aristocratic Households * The Household proper * Tenants * Officers and counselors * Extraordinary retainers * Liveried retainers * Servants and well wishers

The Aristocratic Household: Extraordinary Retainers

Extraordinary retainers were almost always aristocrats. These were men did not continuously reside in the household, and were neither officials nor counselors. They received an annuity in cash, usually for life. Grants of land sometimes occurred, again for life, but were infrequent.

These men were retained by indenture, usually specifying a military service. The resource they provide could be more than the service of the single individual. These men had their own households and estates and could call on their own servants and tenants for military purposes. Sometimes indentures of retainer specified how many attendants the aristocrats should bring with him for service. The higher the status of the retainer, the more men he was likely to bring.

Annuities were not used exclusively for military service. Such payments could be arranged for cooks, huntsmen, falconers, minstrels, physicians, and gunners (presumably master artillerymen).

Fees were sometimes granted to royal retainers or other influential persons as a way of securing their agreement to use their influence advantageously for the retaining lord.

There are other indentured contracts. Priests, building craftsmen, and laborers were commonly hired by the day, and servants in husbandry by the year. Soldiers were recruited under indentures of war for service in particular campaigns. Indentures could be used to add to the obligations of a retainer or to make a more precise definition of military arrangements. In short, many contracts were made for a particular purpose and for a particular term, without permanently extending the ranks of a lord’s connection.