A word used in Magna Charta, meaning the lands and chattels connected with a tenement; also whatever befits the social position of a person, as the arms of a gentleman, the merchandise of a trader, the ploughs and wagons of a peasant, etc.
“In every case the contenement (a word expressive of chattels necessary to each man's station) was exempted from seizure.”— Hallam: Middle Ages, part ii. chap. viii. p. 342.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894