Above the ceorls, the peasants of the Anglo-
Theigns were appointed by the king initially and they did service to him accordingly, if they failed in this respect they could lose their lands and be demoted to the peasant classes or even suffer execution if their transgression was considered serious enough. In the begin it seems that theigns were warriors who took on the more common duties of management and they were made responsible for overseeing the building and maintaining of defences, bridges, and the organisation of the fyrd; the Saxon army. They were expected to give military service for which they would supply their own equipment; horses, servants, arms and armour. Later, the theigns also took on a more administrative role in ensuring that the peasant classes obeyed the king’s law and fulfilled their duties.
As with the peasants the theigns had within their class further sub-
As with huscarls the king was not alone in enjoying the service of theigns, particularly
rich eoldermen also appointed their own theigns. Indeed, it was even possible for
In many respects the theigns were the backbone of the fyrd. They could be expected to be reasonably well equipped and they had the wealth to allow them the time to practice the martial arts needed by a Saxon warrior. Although not as numerous as the coerls the theigns were a more capable body of fighting men and would have formed the front line of a shield wall; most certainly they would be in the second line. Battle gave the theigns a chance to prove their bravery and prowess, and many a many enjoyed the boon of a new grant of land or pieces of gold given by whichever lord they owed allegiance to after such a display. This would make them eager warriors and, therefore, dangerous men when swords were drawn and battle joined.
The Sorrow Song Trilogy © 2013 Peter C. Whitaker. All Rights Reserved.