Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2009-05 > 1241595402

From: "M.Sjostrom" <>
Subject: Armiger means Esquire
Date: Wed, 6 May 2009 00:36:42 -0700 (PDT)

Will and Renia, your understanding of what esquire and armiger meant in *middle ages*, is flawed. I recommend you not to continue to utter unwarranted stupidities about that.


In high and late middle ages: armiger = esquire = squire.

In high and late middle ages, armiger = squire was one who had right to bear those arms you might understand as weapons. To have a right to bear heraldry was a part of THEIR rights.

All armigers (= esquires) were not owners of manor. Nobody should allege that.
There existed 'poor' squires = armigers, however eligible to bear arms (= weapons), and who consequently had heraldic 'logos' rightfully of theirs. A ready example of 'poor' squires are those boys, sons of a living manor-owning squire father, who had not yet inherited or received a manor of their own [and, there were always branches of armigerous families who did not have enough to have their own manor].

Whereas, quite typically, an owner of manor in late middle ages was regarded as armiger.
Exceptions are relatively rare. [on top of my head, I would think of the exception that ecclesiastical institutions owned some manors.]
This point, that typically any owner of manor, was squire (at least), comes from the fact that in middle ages, it was a privileged thing to have a full ownership of a manor. Practically no one else than 'nobles' had ever the possibility to own a manor [remember: in high- and late-medieval England, all land was theiretically owned by the king, and all holdings of manors were theiretically derived from a grant originally from the king...]. [ecclesiastical institutions, in this regard, of course enjoyed pretty much the privileges of 'nobility']
* In this context, where typically any possibility to legitimately own a manor was dependent on being part of the privileged class, the evolution of the term esquire was that although it basically did NOT mean a manor-owner, it became a thing which practically all manor-owners shared. And thusly, afterwards, practically all manor-owners started to be called as esquires = squires.

It has been a distinctly post-medieval development that someones NOT members of armigerous families, were becoming owners of manors.

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