comitatus

Main Entry:  comitatus1
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  a body of companions, esp. a military retinue with its leader
Etymology:  Latin comitatus 'count'
Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  comitatus2
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  a county in the UK
Etymology:  Latin comitatus 'count'
Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

comitatus
1875, from L. collective of comes, comitem "companion" (see count (n.)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

comitatus

(Latin: "retinue"), in ancient Republican Rome, an elite company of one of the army commanders. A comitatus was formed in the assembly when one of the leading men announced that he needed followers to accompany him on a foray into enemy territory. Those who were attracted by the proposal, usually the more well-to-do warriors, would volunteer their services. At that time the relationship between leader and followers, who were called comites ("companions"), was a temporary one, lasting only for the duration of the raid. Later, the arrangement became permanent; the leader fed the comitatus and kept the company about him in peace as well as in war. He supplied the members with their weapons and horses and shared with them the spoils of war. A military force was thus established over which the other warriors had little or no control. Members of the comitatus were willing to fight to the death for their leader; it was a disgrace for them to survive him.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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