I was recently reading an historical novel. In it, a commoner performed an uncommon act of intelligence and bravery. As a reward for this selfless act, the Grand Panjandrum – or Grand Poobah – they both indicate a pretentious or self-important official, like a High Muckedy-Muck, bestowed upon him the reward of a
Because I was reading a dead-tree book, I couldn’t just tap the Kindle screen to find out what a carucate was. I had to play Twenty Questions until I got upstairs to the computer. Was it a gem – a jewel, like the Blue Carbuncle in the Sherlock Holmes novel? Was it a lavish dinner in his honor? Was it a warm, if not willing, bed-companion? Was it a mani-pedi down at Omar’s Tent and Sail Shop, and Spa? Don’t ask – don’t tell. 😉
It turns out that it’s another archaic measurement quantity, equal to 40 acres of land, or a quarter-section – one quarter of a square mile. It was the amount of land that a team of oxen could plow, and the amount of tilled land that it took to produce enough food for a farm family.
While the measurement is described as square, especially those with water frontage, were a mile long, and a quarter-mile wide, farming spaghetti, or rhubarb. It was hard to turn an ox-team and unwieldy plow around. It was easier to let the team catch their breath, and just start another furrow in a straight line, for eight furlongs, and this gave more tenants shipping/travel access . Quebec’s Eastern Townships, in Canada are like this, only larger, all fronting on the St. Lawrence River, and looking like a bowling alley on a map.
Was it possible that this Grand Vizier – Why do all these $3 potentates describe their titles as Grand??! – wanted this potter…. or leather-worker…. to leave the city, and become just another subsistence farmer?? He could sell it, or lease it to a share-cropper. At least he took his dictionary along, and I learned a new old word. 😀