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Household men, mercenaries and vikings in anglo-saxon England

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Chapter Summary

Mercenary soldiers played a crucial role in both the birth and death of Anglo-Saxon England. This chapter draws a distinction between, on the one hand, mercenaries, that is, soldiers who lacked political or social ties to those who employed them, and, on the other, salaried household men and paid expeditionary soldiers whose duty to serve arose, at least in part, from the demands of lordship. It explains why paid military service was ubiquitous throughout the Anglo-Saxon era, while true mercenaries for whom military service was a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder were rare before the eleventh century. The chapter then examines the interrelated political, social, and economic factors that account for this apparent paradox.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon England; household men; mercenary



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