What does gages and safety pledges mean in this old passage, and when is the Octave of St. Michael?

The King to the Sheriff of Notthinghamshire: greeting. If John Smith shall make you secure to prosecute his claim, then put by gages and safe pledges Richard Jones that he be brought before us on the Octave of St. Michael, wheresoever we shall then be in England, to shew wherefore, whereas the same John had delivered a certain horse to the same Richard, at Notthingham, well and sufficiently to shew, the same Richard fixed a certain nail in the quick of the foot aforesaid horse in such a manner that the horse was in many ways made worse, to the damage of him the said John one hundred shillings, as he saith.



The oldest sense of gage given by the OED is the one that applies here:

  1. Something of value deposited to ensure the performance of some action, and liable to forfeiture in case of non-performance; a pawn, pledge, security.

Similarly, the oldest sense the OED gives for octave is the one that you want:

  1. Eccl. (Formerly always in pl.: so med.L. octavæ, OF. huitieves.) a. The eighth day after a festival (both days being counted, and so always falling on the same day of the week as the festival itself). b. (In later use.) The period of eight days beginning with the day of a festival.
  • 1
    Basically, bail. Aug 30 '15 at 20:10
  • @StoneyB Thanks. And this explains how the English courts worked for the four terms that the court sat at Westminster. It looks like the octave of St Michaelmas was a week from that feast and a quindene two weeks from it.
    – tchrist
    Aug 30 '15 at 20:19
  • and pledges mean people who "pledge" the defendant will appear Aug 30 '15 at 21:19
  • 1
    @IsaacPounder Or as Blind Willie Johnson put it, You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond. Aug 30 '15 at 21:35

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