retinue n : the group following and attending to some important person [syn: cortege, suite, entourage]
EtymologyFrom retenue, from retenue, past participle of retenir
group of servants
- Dutch: gevolg, hofhouding, hofstoet
- Polish: świta
A retinue is a body of persons "retained" in the service of a noble or royal personage, a suite (literal French meanings: what follows) of "retainers."
EtymologyThe word, recorded in English since circa 1375, stems from Old French retenue, itself from retenir also meaning 'to employ', from Latin retenere, hold back, retain.
EmploymentSuch retainers were not necessarily in the domestic service or otherwise normally close to the presence of their lord, but also include others who wore his livery (a kind of uniform, in distinctive colours) and claimed his protection, such as musicians and private teachers.
Some were a source of trouble and abuse in the 15th and early 16th century. Often their real importance was very different from their rank: on one hand, sinecures and supernumerary appointments allowed enjoying benefits without performing full service. On the other hand, 'having the ear' of the master can allow one to act as a confidant in an informal capacity; or in some cases, even as a spy under the guise of an innocent musician.
ContrastA retinue is sometimes confused with an entourage, which is the far less stable body of people that followed whether or not they were - or claimed to be - retained or protected by the prominent person they served.
For example, a prince's entourage would not only include professional courtiers, but also various bishops, clerics and other clerks, senior members of the aristocracy and other more occasional advisers, translators etcetera, who would often not be part of a sovereign's (more permanent) retinue, even though that could comprise a surprising variety of functions, from menial to lofty.
retinue in German: Gefolge
retinue in Serbo-Croatian: Svita