Vassal

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VASSAL, feudal law. This was the name given to the holder of a fief, bound to perform feudal service; this word was then always correlative to that of lord, entitled to such service.
     2. The vassal himself might be lord of some other vassal.
     3. In aftertimes, this word was used to signify a species of slave who owed servitude, and was in a state of dependency on a superior lord. 2 Bl. Com. 53; Merl. Repert. h.t.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.