A sum of money paid for the release of a prisoner or for the restitution of property. The demanding and paying of ransoms formed an accepted part of medieval warfare and diplomacy. Knights who were vassals of a lord were obliged to pay for the release of their lord if he was captured in war, although in the late Middle Ages family and friends paid as well as a lord's estate. A suitable ransom would be negotiated and raised to secure eventual release. Needless massacre of prisoners, as after Agincourt, aroused resentment among would-be captors. Notable ransom victims include John II of France and Richard I of England.
Subjects: Religion — History.