Medieval Lesson 102 Herberger
In Medieval times, a herberger was the official responsible for the allocation of lodging to members of the Royal household (the Familia Regis ). Herbergage meant lodging or accommodation.
The origin of the word is from the Old High German, heriberga which meant “shelter for an army”. It was formed from heri meaning “host, army” and berga meaning “protections, shelter”.
In the 12th century, with the Germanic influence, the word moved into the French language. The Old French herbergere, meant “one who provides shelter or lodgings. The Old French herberge meant “lodging quarters for an army”.
From the Old French, the word evolved into the English language where a herberger was “one who provides lodgings”.
Over the years, the word transformed to “herbenger” similar to the path of the word “messenger”. The meaning of the word was “one sent before to purvey lodgings for an army”. Over many more years the word “herbenger” developed to mean “one that goes before and announces the approach of someone”.
Today the word “harbinger” means “one that announces of foretells the approach of something or someone”.
So when we call someone a harbinger of bad news, we can thinketh back to the Middle Ages, where harbinger was born.
With Great Respect,
Your Teacher Merlin,
Magister of U of C
Camelot and The Knights of the Pain Table