ETYM French, from Late Lat. vassallus, vassus; of Celtic origin; cf. W. and Corn. gwas a youth, page, servant, Arm. gwaz a man, a male. Related to Valet, Varlet, Vavasor.
A person holding a fief; SYN. liege, liegeman, liege subject, feudatory.
In medieval Europe, a person who paid feudal homage to a superior lord (see feudalism), and who promised military service and advice in return for a grant of land. The term was used from the 9th century.
The relationship of vassalage was the mainstay of the feudal system and declined along with it during the transition to bastard feudalism.