Affinity (medieval)

In post-classical history, an affinity was a collective name for the group (retinue) of (usually) men whom a lord gathered around himself in his service; it has been described by one modern historian as "the servants, retainers, and other followers of a lord",[1] and as "part of the normal fabric of society".[2] It is considered a fundamental aspect of bastard feudalism,[3] and acted as a means of tying magnates to the lower nobility, just as feudalism had done in a different way.[4]

The Dunstable Swan Jewel, a livery badge, from ca. 1400 (British Museum)

One form of the relationship was known as livery and maintenance. The lord provided livery badges to be worn by the retainer and "maintenance" or his support in their disputes, which often constituted obstruction of judicial processes.