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A misericord (ledge on folding church seat)
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From 1200–50, from Middle English misericorde (an act of clemency) from Middle French from Latin misericordia (pity).


misericord (countable and uncountable, plural misericords)

  1. Relaxation of monastic rules.
  2. The room in a monastery for monks granted such relaxation.
  3. A ledge, sometimes ornately carved, attached to a folding church seat to provide support for a person standing for long periods; a subsellium.
    • 1969, M. D. Anderson, The Iconography of British Misericords, G. L. Remnant, A Catalogue of Misericords in Great Britain, page xxiii,
      Misericords are a very humble form of medieval art and it is unlikely that the most distinguished carvers of any period were employed in making them, except, perhaps, during their apprentice years.
    • 1999, Mariko Miyazaki, Misericord Owls and Medieval Anti-semitism, Debra Hassig, Debra Higgs Strickland (editors), The Mark of the Beast: The Medieval Bestiary in Art, Life, and Literature, page 23,
      In this essay I will focus primarily on the subject of the owl in order to illustrate how bestiary imagery was modified and developed in late medieval public church decoration, primarily in the form of the sculpted choir-seats known as misericords. The owl provides a good case study of this process as it was an especially popular misericord motif and its artistic and literary characterizations are largely informed by—but not limited to—the bestiaries.
    • 2007, F. E. Howard, F. H. Crossley, English Church Woodwork, page 155,
      The construction of a misericord stall is very peculiar. The shaped standards or elbows are cut out of wide planks. They are notched over a deep and massive bottom rail (to which the misericords are hinged in many cases), and are housed into the massive capping, which is very wide and hollowed out with semicircular recesses to form curved backs for the stalls.
  4. A medieval dagger, used for the mercy stroke to a wounded foe.