Standard Article


  1. Rémy Ambühl

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444338232.wbeow511

The Encyclopedia of War

The Encyclopedia of War

How to Cite

Ambühl, R. 2011. Ransoms. The Encyclopedia of War. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011


In Middle English raunsom or raunson derives from the old French raencon (or raenson, rancon, ranson, ranchon, etc.) and from the Latin redemptio. Ransom is commonly defined as the price or sum paid or demanded for the release of a prisoner. However, it has not always been strictly financial. This nuance is highlighted by the medieval use of the term finance (fenaunce, fynance, financia), which seemed to designate a ransom that was paid in money, whereas ransom could also be partly or entirely paid in goods.


  • Law;
  • Military History;
  • violence