Æthelstan or Athelstan was King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and King of the English from 927 to 939 when he died. He was his first wife, Ecgwynn. Modern historians regard him as one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings, he never had no children. He was succeeded by Edmund; when Edward died in July 924, Æthelstan was accepted by the Mercians as king. His half-brother Ælfweard may have been recognised as king in Wessex, but died within three weeks of their father's death. Æthelstan encountered resistance in Wessex for several months, was not crowned until September 925. In 927 he conquered the last remaining Viking kingdom, making him the first Anglo-Saxon ruler of the whole of England. In 934 he invaded Scotland and forced Constantine II to submit to him, but Æthelstan's rule was resented by the Scots and Vikings, in 937 they invaded England. Æthelstan defeated them at the Battle of Brunanburh, a victory which gave him great prestige both in the British Isles and on the Continent. After his death in 939 the Vikings seized back control of York, it was not reconquered until 954.
Æthelstan centralised government. These meetings were attended by rulers from outside his territory Welsh kings, who thus acknowledged his overlordship. More legal texts survive from his reign than from any other 10th-century English king, they show his concern about widespread robberies, the threat they posed to social order. His legal reforms built on those of Alfred the Great. Æthelstan was one of the most pious West Saxon kings, was known for collecting relics and founding churches. His household was the centre of English learning during his reign, it laid the foundation for the Benedictine monastic reform in the century. No other West Saxon king played as important a role in European politics as Æthelstan, he arranged the marriages of several of his sisters to continental rulers. By the ninth century the many kingdoms of the early Anglo-Saxon period had been consolidated into four: Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. In the eighth century, Mercia had been the most powerful kingdom in southern England, but in the early ninth, Wessex became dominant under Æthelstan's great-great-grandfather, Egbert.
In the middle of the century, England came under increasing attack from Viking raids, culminating in invasion by the Great Heathen Army in 865. By 878, the Vikings had overrun East Anglia and Mercia, nearly conquered Wessex; the West Saxons fought back under Alfred the Great, achieved a decisive victory at the Battle of Edington. Alfred and the Viking leader Guthrum agreed on a division that gave Alfred western Mercia, while eastern Mercia was incorporated into Viking East Anglia. In the 890s, renewed Viking attacks were fought off by Alfred, assisted by his son Edward and Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians. Æthelred was married to his daughter Æthelflæd. Alfred was succeeded by Edward. Æthelwold, the son of Æthelred, King Alfred's older brother and predecessor as king, made a bid for power, but was killed at the Battle of the Holme in 902. Little is known of warfare between the English and the Danes over the next few years, but in 909, Edward sent a West Saxon and Mercian army to ravage Northumbria.
The following year the Northumbrian Danes attacked Mercia, but suffered a decisive defeat at the Battle of Tettenhall. Æthelred was succeeded as ruler of Mercia by his widow Æthelflæd. Over the next decade, Edward and Æthelflæd conquered East Anglia. Æthelflæd died in 918 and was succeeded by her daughter Ælfwynn, but in the same year Edward deposed her and took direct control of Mercia. When Edward died in 924, he controlled all of England south of the Humber; the Viking king Sihtric ruled the Kingdom of York in southern Northumbria, but Ealdred maintained Anglo-Saxon rule in at least part of the former kingdom of Bernicia from his base in Bamburgh in northern Northumbria. Constantine II ruled Scotland, apart from the southwest, the British Kingdom of Strathclyde. Wales was divided into a number of small kingdoms, including Deheubarth in the southwest, Gwent in the southeast, Brycheiniog north of Gwent, Gwynedd in the north. According to William of Malmesbury, Æthelstan was thirty years old when he came to the throne in 924, which would mean that he was born around 894.
He was the oldest son of Edward the Elder and the tallest. He was Edward's only son by Ecgwynn. Little is known about Ecgwynn, she is not named in any pre-Conquest source. Medieval chroniclers gave varying descriptions of her rank: one described her as an ignoble consort of inferior birth, while others described her birth as noble. Modern historians disagree about her status. Simon Keynes and Richard Abels believe that leading figures in Wessex were unwilling to accept Æthelstan as king in 924 because his mother had been Edward the Elder's concubine. However, Barbara Yorke and Sarah Foot argue that allegations that Æthelstan was illegitimate were a product of the dispute over the succession, that there is no reason to doubt that she was Edward's legitimate wife, she may have been related to St Dunstan. William of Malmesbury wrote that Alfred the Great honoured his young grandson with a ceremony in which he gave him a scarlet cloak, a belt set with gems, a sword with a gilded scabbard. Medieval Latin scholar Michael Lapid
Beowulf is an Old English epic poem consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines. It is arguably one of the most important works of Old English literature; the date of composition is a matter of contention among scholars. The author was an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, referred to by scholars as the "Beowulf poet"; the story is set in Scandinavia. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall and is also defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland and becomes king of the Geats. After a period of fifty years has passed, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is mortally wounded in the battle. After his death, his attendants erect a tower on a headland in his memory; the full story survives in the manuscript known as the Nowell Codex. It has no title in the original manuscript, but has become known by the name of the story's protagonist.
In 1731, the manuscript was badly damaged by a fire that swept through Ashburnham House in London that had a collection of medieval manuscripts assembled by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton. The Nowell Codex is housed in the British Library; the events in the poem take place over most of the sixth century, after the Anglo-Saxons had started migrating to England and before the beginning of the seventh century, a time when the Anglo-Saxons were either newly arrived or were still in close contact with their Germanic kinsmen in Northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The poem may have been brought to England by people of Geatish origins. Many suggest that Beowulf was first composed in the 7th century at Rendlesham in East Anglia, that the Sutton Hoo ship-burial shows close connections with Scandinavia, that the East Anglian royal dynasty, the Wuffingas, may have been descendants of the Geatish Wulfings. Others have associated this poem with the court of King Alfred the Great or with the court of King Cnut the Great.
The poem deals with legends, was composed for entertainment, does not separate between fictional elements and historic events, such as the raid by King Hygelac into Frisia. Though Beowulf himself is not mentioned in any other Anglo-Saxon manuscript, scholars agree that many of the other figures referred to in Beowulf appear in Scandinavian sources.. This concerns not only individuals, but clans and certain events. In Denmark, recent archaeological excavations at Lejre, where Scandinavian tradition located the seat of the Scyldings, i.e. Heorot, have revealed that a hall was built in the mid-6th century the time period of Beowulf. Three halls, each about 50 metres long, were found during the excavation; the majority view appears to be that people such as King Hroðgar and the Scyldings in Beowulf are based on historical people from 6th-century Scandinavia. Like the Finnesburg Fragment and several shorter surviving poems, Beowulf has been used as a source of information about Scandinavian figures such as Eadgils and Hygelac, about continental Germanic figures such as Offa, king of the continental Angles.
19th-century archaeological evidence may confirm elements of the Beowulf story. Eadgils was buried at Uppsala according to Snorri Sturluson; when the western mound was excavated in 1874, the finds showed that a powerful man was buried in a large barrow, c. 575, on a bear skin with two dogs and rich grave offerings. The eastern mound was excavated in 1854, contained the remains of a woman, or a woman and a young man; the middle barrow has not been excavated. The protagonist Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, king of the Danes, whose great hall, Heorot, is plagued by the monster Grendel. Beowulf kills Grendel with his bare hands and Grendel's mother with a giant's sword that he found in her lair. In his life, Beowulf becomes king of the Geats, finds his realm terrorized by a dragon, some of whose treasure had been stolen from his hoard in a burial mound, he attacks the dragon with the help of his thegns or servants. Beowulf decides to follow the dragon to its lair at Earnanæs, but only his young Swedish relative Wiglaf, whose name means "remnant of valour", dares to join him.
Beowulf slays the dragon, but is mortally wounded in the struggle. He is cremated and a burial mound by the sea is erected in his honour. Beowulf is considered an epic poem in that the main character is a hero who travels great distances to prove his strength at impossible odds against supernatural demons and beasts; the poem begins in medias res or "in the middle of things,", a characteristic of the epics of antiquity. Although the poem begins with Beowulf's arrival, Grendel's attacks have been an ongoing event. An elaborate history of characters and their lineages is spoken of, as well as their interactions with each other, debts owed and repaid, deeds of valour; the warriors form a kind of brotherhood linked by loyalty to their lord. What is unique about "Beowulf" is that the poem begins and ends with a funeral. At the beginning of the poem, the king, Shield Shiefson dies and there is a huge funeral for him. At the end of the poem when Beowulf dies, there is a massive funeral for Beowulf. Beowulf begins with the story of Hrothgar, who constructed the great hall Heorot for himself and his warriors.
The British Museum, in the Bloomsbury area of London, United Kingdom, is a public institution dedicated to human history and culture. Its permanent collection of some eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence, having been sourced during the era of the British Empire, it documents the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. It was the first public national museum in the world; the British Museum was established in 1753 based on the collections of the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. It first opened in Montagu House, on the site of the current building, its expansion over the following 250 years was a result of expanding British colonisation and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the Natural History Museum in 1881. In 1973, the British Library Act 1972 detached the library department from the British Museum, but it continued to host the now separated British Library in the same Reading Room and building as the museum until 1997.
The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture and Sport, as with all national museums in the UK it charges no admission fee, except for loan exhibitions. Its ownership of some of its most famous objects originating in other countries is disputed and remains the subject of international controversy, most notably in the case of the Parthenon Marbles. Although today principally a museum of cultural art objects and antiquities, the British Museum was founded as a "universal museum", its foundations lie in the will of the Irish physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane, a London-based doctor and scientist from Ulster. During the course of his lifetime, after he married the widow of a wealthy Jamaican planter, Sloane gathered a large collection of curiosities and, not wishing to see his collection broken up after death, he bequeathed it to King George II, for the nation, for a sum of £20,000. At that time, Sloane's collection consisted of around 71,000 objects of all kinds including some 40,000 printed books, 7,000 manuscripts, extensive natural history specimens including 337 volumes of dried plants and drawings including those by Albrecht Dürer and antiquities from Sudan, Greece, the Ancient Near and Far East and the Americas.
On 7 June 1753, King George II gave his Royal Assent to the Act of Parliament which established the British Museum. The British Museum Act 1753 added two other libraries to the Sloane collection, namely the Cottonian Library, assembled by Sir Robert Cotton, dating back to Elizabethan times, the Harleian Library, the collection of the Earls of Oxford, they were joined in 1757 by the "Old Royal Library", now the Royal manuscripts, assembled by various British monarchs. Together these four "foundation collections" included many of the most treasured books now in the British Library including the Lindisfarne Gospels and the sole surviving manuscript of Beowulf; the British Museum was the first of a new kind of museum – national, belonging to neither church nor king open to the public and aiming to collect everything. Sloane's collection, while including a vast miscellany of objects, tended to reflect his scientific interests; the addition of the Cotton and Harley manuscripts introduced a literary and antiquarian element and meant that the British Museum now became both National Museum and library.
The body of trustees decided on a converted 17th-century mansion, Montagu House, as a location for the museum, which it bought from the Montagu family for £20,000. The trustees rejected Buckingham House, on the site now occupied by Buckingham Palace, on the grounds of cost and the unsuitability of its location. With the acquisition of Montagu House, the first exhibition galleries and reading room for scholars opened on 15 January 1759. At this time, the largest parts of collection were the library, which took up the majority of the rooms on the ground floor of Montagu House and the natural history objects, which took up an entire wing on the second state storey of the building. In 1763, the trustees of the British Museum, under the influence of Peter Collinson and William Watson, employed the former student of Carl Linnaeus, Daniel Solander to reclassify the natural history collection according to the Linnaean system, thereby making the Museum a public centre of learning accessible to the full range of European natural historians.
In 1823, King George IV gave the King's Library assembled by George III, Parliament gave the right to a copy of every book published in the country, thereby ensuring that the museum's library would expand indefinitely. During the few years after its foundation the British Museum received several further gifts, including the Thomason Collection of Civil War Tracts and David Garrick's library of 1,000 printed plays; the predominance of natural history and manuscripts began to lessen when in 1772 the museum acquired for £8,410 its first significant antiquities in Sir William Hamilton's "first" collection of Greek vases. From 1778, a display of objects from the South Seas brought back from the round-the-world voyages of Captain James Cook and the travels of other explorers fascinated visitors with a glimpse of unknown lands; the bequest of a collection of books, engraved gems, coins and drawings by Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode in 1800 did much to raise the museum's reputation. The museum's first notable addition towards its collection of antiquities, since its foundation, was by Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador to Naples, who sold his collection of Greek and Roman artefacts to
A knight is a man granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch, bishop or other political or religious leader for service to the monarch or a Christian church in a military capacity. In Europe, knighthood was conferred upon mounted warriors. During the High Middle Ages, knighthood was considered a class of lower nobility. By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior. A knight was a vassal who served as an elite fighter, a bodyguard or a mercenary for a lord, with payment in the form of land holdings; the lords trusted the knights. Knighthood in the Middle Ages was linked with horsemanship from its origins in the 12th century until its final flowering as a fashion among the high nobility in the Duchy of Burgundy in the 15th century; this linkage is reflected in the etymology of chivalry and related terms. The special prestige accorded to mounted warriors in Christendom finds a parallel in the furusiyya in the Muslim world, the Greek hippeis and Roman eques of classical antiquity.
In the late medieval period, new methods of warfare began to render classical knights in armour obsolete, but the titles remained in many nations. The ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature the literary cycles known as the Matter of France, relating to the legendary companions of Charlemagne and his men-at-arms, the paladins, the Matter of Britain, relating to the legend of King Arthur and his Round Table. Today, a number of orders of knighthood continue to exist in Christian Churches, as well as in several Christian countries and their former territories, such as the Roman Catholic Order of the Holy Sepulchre and Order of Malta, the Protestant Order of Saint John, as well as the English Order of the Garter, the Swedish Royal Order of the Seraphim, the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav; each of these orders has its own criteria for eligibility, but knighthood is granted by a head of state, monarch, or prelate to selected persons to recognise some meritorious achievement, as in the British honours system for service to the Church or country.
The modern female equivalent in the United Kingdom is Dame. The word knight, from Old English cniht, is a cognate of the German word Knecht; this meaning, of unknown origin, is common among West Germanic languages. Middle High German had the phrase guoter kneht, which meant knight; the meaning of cniht changed over time from its original meaning of "boy" to "household retainer". Ælfric's homily of St. Swithun describes a mounted retainer as a cniht. While cnihtas might have fought alongside their lords, their role as household servants features more prominently in the Anglo-Saxon texts. In several Anglo-Saxon wills cnihtas are left either money or lands. In his will, King Æthelstan leaves his cniht, eight hides of land. A rādcniht, "riding-servant", was a servant on horseback. A narrowing of the generic meaning "servant" to "military follower of a king or other superior" is visible by 1100; the specific military sense of a knight as a mounted warrior in the heavy cavalry emerges only in the Hundred Years' War.
The verb "to knight" appears around 1300. An Equestrian was a member of the second highest social class in the Roman Republic and early Roman Empire; this class is translated as "knight". In the Roman Empire, the classical Latin word for horse, was replaced in common parlance by the vulgar Latin caballus, sometimes thought to derive from Gaulish caballos. From caballus arose terms in the various Romance languages cognate with the English cavalier: Italian cavaliere, Spanish caballero, French chevalier, Portuguese cavaleiro, Romanian cavaler; the Germanic languages have terms cognate with the English rider: German Ritter, Dutch and Scandinavian ridder. These words are derived from Germanic rīdan, "to ride", in turn derived from the Proto-Indo-European root reidh-. In ancient Rome there was a knightly class Ordo Equestris; some portions of the armies of Germanic peoples who occupied Europe from the 3rd century AD onward had been mounted, some armies, such as those of the Ostrogoths, were cavalry.
However, it was the Franks who fielded armies composed of large masses of infantry, with an infantry elite, the comitatus, which rode to battle on horseback rather than marching on foot. When the armies of the Frankish ruler Charles Martel defeated the Umayyad Arab invasion at the Battle of Tours in 732, the Frankish forces were still infantry armies, with elites riding to battle but dismounting to fight. In the Early Medieval period any well-equipped horseman could be described as a knight, or miles in Latin; the first knights appeared during the reign of Charlemagne in the 8th century. As the Carolingian Age progressed, the Franks were on the attack, larger numbers of warriors took to their horses to ride with the Emperor in his wide-ranging campaigns of conquest. At about this time the Franks remained on horseback to fight on the battlefield as true cavalry rather than mounted in
Cotter, cottar, Kosatter or Kötter is the German or Scots term for a peasant farmer. Cotters occupied cultivated small plots of land; the word cotter is employed to translate the cotarius recorded in the Domesday Book, a class whose exact status has been the subject of some discussion among historians, is still a matter of doubt. According to Domesday, the cotarii were comparatively few, numbering fewer than seven thousand, were scattered unevenly throughout England, being principally in the southern counties, they either worked on the holdings of the villani. Like the villani, among whom they were classed, their economic condition may be described as free in relation to every one except their lord. A cottar or cottier is a term for a tenant renting land from a farmer or landlord. Cottars were between a third and a half of the rural population of Lowland Scotland for the 17th and most of the 18th century, they held small amounts of land from lease-holding farming tenants of the traditional fermetouns.
They provided labour at the peak times of ploughing and harvest, in lieu of monetary rent. Many were engaged in trades, such as weaving, or blacksmithing; the agricultural improvement that transformed the rural economy of the Lowlands in the 18th century created larger farms with fewer tenants. From the 1770s onwards, this left no place for the cottar: many migrated to the nearby developing industrial towns, others became farm servants or day labourers for the new larger farms. Highland Cottars were affected by the Industrial Revolution. Landowners realized they could make more money from sheep, whose wool was spun and processed into textiles for export, than crops; the landowners forcibly evicted entire villages. This resulted in the mass exodus of peasants and cotters, leading to an influx of former cotters into industrial centers, such as a burgeoning Glasgow. A Kötter, Köter, Köthner, Kötner, Kätner or Kotsassen, in Prussia and Mecklenburg Kossaten, Kossater or Kossäten, was a villager in medieval Europe who lived in a simple dwelling known as a Kotten or Kate.
The plural form is the same. The term Kötter is recorded in Germany from the 14th century; the term Kossäte is derived from Low German and translates "who sits in a cottage". Cotter houses were detached houses near German villages, used as workshops. Many of these Kotten/Cotter houses still remain; the farmsteads of Kötter were sited on the edge of a village or were sub-divisions of an old farm. Because the return on their land was insufficient to sustain their livelihood, they supplemented their income with a craft or trade, or by working as day labourers on bigger farms or at manor houses, they had a plot of land of between an eighth and a half an oxgang. In return for the grant of a house and a plot of land for his own use, a Kossät not only had to pay interest in cash or in kind, but had to render services in the form of manual labour or provision of draught animals and harnesses, i.e. to assist with the harvest, etc. In most cases the cottage or Kate had a small vegetable garten that provided a secondary source of income.
Most Kätner had another main occupation. They craftsmen or, if their land was sufficient, farmers, their land was beyond the fields allocated to Hufnern. The Kötter had a small share in the common land. In the social agricultural hierarchy a Kötter ranked below the full-time farmer or Vollbauer, but above the Büdner, who just owned a house and garden and earned his living as a tradesman, above the various categories of day labourer. Around the middle of the 15th century, encouraged by a form of primogeniture known as the Anerbenrecht and by the rapid population growth, the Kötter were divided into Erbkötter and Markkötter; the former, who arose as a result of the division of land, always had a house and garden within the village, or within a farming community, something, considered essential for reasons of protection and mutual assistance. Now, land that could be farmed, no matter how poor, was cleared elsewhere in the parish; the Markkötter was not given an inheritance proper and he ranked below the Erbkötter.
Unlike the heirs or old farmers, none of this group inherited the family farm. Both groups of Kötter - the Erbkötter and Markkötter - were still higher in the social hierarchy than the Heuerling, who were and economically, more dependant on the owners of their cottages; the Polish equivalent of the cotter was the Pachciarz krów. The term translates as "Cow tenant". One of the functions of the Pachciarz krów was to supply the landowner with milk and other bovine produce. A cottier in Ireland was a person who rented a simple cabin and between one and one and a half acres of land upon which to grow potatoes and flax; the ground was held on a year-to-year basis and rent was paid in labour. The land available to the cottier class was land that the owners considered unprofitable for any other use; the cottier existed at subsistence level because of high rents and the competition for land and labour. The more prosperous cottier worked for his landlord and received cash after rent and
In post-classical history, an affinity was a collective name for the group of men whom a lord gathered around himself in his service. It is considered a fundamental aspect of bastard feudalism, acted as a means of tying magnates to the lower nobility, just as feudalism had done in a different way. One form of the relationship was known as maintenance; the lord provided livery badges to be worn by the retainer and "maintenance" or his support in their disputes, which might constitute obstruction of judicial processes. One of the earliest identifiable feudal affinities was that of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, who by 1190 had gathered a force around him consisting of men without any strong tenurial connection to him. Rather than receiving land, these men received grants of office and the security of Pembroke's proximity to the king. Historian Michael Hicks has described it as a "personal, not feudal" connection, which David Crouch called an early example of a bastard feudal relationship.
On the other hand, a hundred years the earl of Lincoln gathered bodies of men—often from among his tenants—from his estates in Lincoln, who were still linked to the earl feudally through their tenure of his land. Central to a noble affinity was the lord's indentured retainers, beyond them was a more amorphous group of general supporters and contacts; the difference, K. B. McFarlane wrote, was that the former did the lord "exclusive service" but the latter received his good lordship "in ways both more and less permanent" than the retainers. Christine Carpenter has described the structure of the earl of Warwick's affinity as "a series of concentric circles" with him at the centre, it has been noted that a lord only had to gather a small number of people around in areas where he was strong, as members of his affinity supported not only him but each other. These were men the lord trusted: for example, in 1459, on the verge of the Wars of the Roses, the earl of Salisbury gathered the closest members of his affinity to him in Middleham Castle and took their advice before publicly coming out in support of the rebellious duke of York.
The lord would include men in positions of local authority, for example Justices of the peace, within his affinity. On the other hand, he might, as John of Gaunt did in the fourteenth century, recruit people into his affinity regardless of their social weight, as an expression of his "courtly and chivalric ambitions", as Anthony Goodman said. A contemporary described these as "kin, friendis and parttakaris" to the lord. Members of the affinity could be identified by the livery the lord would distribute for their identification with him; the members of the affinity closest to the lord were those of most use: the estate officials, treasurer and more than one lawyer. By the late Middle Ages, kings such as Richard II and Henry IV had created their own affinities within the regional gentry, for political as well as martial motives, they were therefore at a greater distance from the royal court, but they were more numerous than the household knights of earlier kings. By the fifteenth century, most regional agents of the crown were considered to be in the king's affinity, as they had a closer connection to the crown than ordinary subjects.
By the reign of Henry VI, E. F. Jacob estimated that the number of squires employed by the king in the localities increased from 150 to over 300. In Richard's case, it has been suggested it was for the purpose of building up royal power to counteract the pre-existing affinities of the nobility and strengthen his own power. Indeed, they were at the heart of the army Richard took to Ireland on his 1399 campaign, prior to his deposition; this esquires, retained with hard cash. In fact, the amounts the crown spent on its regional affinity were the cause of much of the discontent over royal expenditure that Richard II, for example, faced in 1397. John of Gaunt's affinity increased by half between 1381 and the early 1390s and cost him far greater sums than the 10% of income that magnates expended on their retinues. Gaunt used it to defend his position against the crown as Richard II's reign became erratic, his son, Henry of Bolingbroke, inherited it in 1399, found it a ready-made army that allowed him to overthrow Richard.
In similar circumstances, in 1471, Edward IV, returning from exile to reclaim his throne, gathered his affinity with him as he marched south, it has been said that "it was as master of such an affinity that at Barnet and Tewkesbury King Edward won a wider mastery". The earl of Salisbury using his affinity as a show of strength in 1458, attended a royal council meeting with an affinity of about 400 horsemen and eighty knights and squires. Affinities were not confined to magnates, they were not confined to men: Edward II's consort, had an affinity whose "collective influence was as powerful as the most powerful lords" if with less of a military
In medieval Scandinavia, husmän were either non-servile manservants or household troops in personal service of someone, equivalent to a bodyguard to Scandinavian lords and kings. This institution existed in Anglo-Saxon England after its conquest by the kingdom of Denmark in the 11th century. In England, the royal housecarls had a number of roles, both administrative; the original Old Norse term, húskarl means "house man". These were well trained men; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle uses hiredmenn as a term for all paid warriors and thus is applied to housecarl, but it refers to butsecarls and lithsmen. It is not clear whether these were types of different altogether; the Old Norse word húskarl had a general sense of "manservant", as opposed to the húsbóndi, the "master of the house". In that sense, the word had several synonyms: griðmenn in Iceland, innæsmæn in Denmark. Housecarls were free men. Both terms emphasise. With time, the term "housecarls" came to acquire a specific sense of "retainers", in the service of a lord, in his hirð, lid or drótt.
In Denmark, this was the sense of the word himthige, a variant of húskarl. This meaning can be seen, for instance, on the Turinge stone: Ketill and Bjôrn, they raised this stone in memory of Þorsteinn, their father; these brothers were the best of men in the land and abroad in the retinue, held their housecarls well. He fell in battle in the east in Garðar, commander of the best of landholders. According to Omeljan Pritsak, this Þorsteinn may have commanded the retinue of king Yaroslav I the Wise. Thus, the housecarls mentioned here would be royal bodyguards. In Norway, housecarls were members of the king's or another powerful man's hirð; the institution of the hirð in Norway can be traced back to the 9th century. The texts dealing with royal power in medieval Norway, the Heimskringla and the Konungs skuggsjá, make explicit the link between a king or leader and his retainers. There was a special fine for the killing of a king's man, which in Konungs skuggsjá is underlined as an advantage of entering the king's service.
Conversely, retainers were expected to avenge their leader. Sigvatr Þórðarson, a court poet to two kings of Norway, Olaf II of Norway and Magnus the Good, called the retainers of Olaf II of Norway heiðþegar, meaning "gift- receivers". More Snorri Sturluson explained that "heið-money is the name of the wages or gift which chieftains give". Thus, Sigvat referred to an institution similar to the Danish heimþegar or to the housecarls of Cnut the Great: free men in the service of a king or lord, who gave them gifts as payment of said service, it is known from Icelandic sources that in the 1060s, the royal housecarls were paid with Norwegian coins. Six runestones in Denmark, DR 1, DR 3, DR 154, DR 155, DR 296, DR 297, use the term heimþegi, meaning "home-receiver"; the use of the term in the inscriptions suggest a strong similarity between heimþegar and housecarls: like housecarls, heimþegar are in the service of a king or lord, of whom they receive gifts for their service. Johannes Brøndsted interpreted heimþegi as nothing more than a local variant of húskarl.
Johannes Brøndsted suggested that the garrison of the Danish fort of Trelleborg may have consisted of royal housecarls, that kings Svein Forkbeard and Cnut the Great may have "safeguarded the country by a network of forts manned by the royal housecarls, the mercenaries, the hird". Among the Hedeby stones, the Stone of Eric is dedicated by a royal retainer to one of his companions: Thurlf, Sven's retainer erected this stone after Erik his fellow, who died when the warriors sat around [i.e. besieged Hedeby, but he was a commander, a brave warrior. "Sven" is king Svein Forkbeard, as elsewhere on the Hedeby stones. Another runestone there, the Skarthi stone, was personally raised by king Svein: King Sveinn placed the stone in memory of Skarði, his retainer, who has sailed in the west, but who died at Hedeby. Under Svein Forkbeard and Cnut the Great, when the Danish kings came to rule England, a body of royal housecarls was developed there, with institutions that were of Norse inspiration, inspired by canon law.
But after the Danish kings had lost England, housecarls continued to exist in Denmark. Such a group of royal retaine