suzerain

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suzerain

1. 
a. a state or sovereign exercising some degree of dominion over a dependent state, usually controlling its foreign affairs
b. (as modifier): a suzerain power
2. 
a. a feudal overlord
b. (as modifier): suzerain lord

Suzerain

 

in medieval Western Europe, a superior feudal lord, or seigneur, of a territory (for example, a king, duke, or prince) who is sovereign over the vassals in his domain (seeVASSALAGE). The authority of a suzerain derives from his power to grant fiefs to vassals.