seneschal(redirected from Dapifer)
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(1) The administrator of the royal palace in the Frankish state of the fifth through eighth centuries. In the eighth century the seneschal also came to have judicial and military responsibilities. Great seigniors also had seneschals.
(2) In southern and western France, beginning in the 13th century, a royal official in charge of a judicial and administrative district known as a seneschalsy. Seneschals, who had broad judicial, administrative, financial, and military authority, were chosen mainly from among the local feudal nobility. In the 16th century, the seneschals lost all but their military responsibilities. The post was abolished during the French Revolution. In the northern part of France the seneschal’s functions were performed by the bailli.