Anglo-Saxon Society and Social Structure. 1. The Anglo-Saxon social structure consisted of tribal units led by KINGS who earned their respect from their warriors, called THANES . This grouping of king and thanes was called a COMITATUS . .
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1. The Anglo-Saxon social structure consisted of tribal units led by KINGS who earned their respect from their warriors, called THANES. This grouping of king and thanes was called a COMITATUS.
1. Kings should display the HEROIC ideal and be known for an extraordinary and courageous feat and/or for success in war. BOASTING was an important way to create a reputation for courage and bravery.
2. The king must be a generous “RING-GIVER” too -- that is, he must dish out the spoils of war to his thanes rather than hoard the treasures won in tribal warfare.
4. Although thanes freely agreed to join a king, it was nevertheless vital for one's IDENTITY to be part of a tribe.
5. A thane shouldn't survive the king, and the worst fate for these people was to be EXILED from the group or to OUTLIVE all one's fellow warriors. The sense of identity came from the warrior community.
6. FIGHTING was a way of life, and not to AVENGE the death of a family member was a social disgrace, so endlessly intricate blood-feuds generated perpetual excuses for going to war.
7. There were two alternatives for ending a blood-feud. The first was to pay a “WERGILD” or “man-price” to the family. The second alternative was to arrange a MARRIAGE between families.
8. Women were known as ‘CUP-BEARERS’, because they served the mead, and ‘PEACE-WEAVERS’, because of their potential to end feuds.
9. Averting war never really ever worked, however. The Germanic tribes hated PEACE; fighting was more honorable
10.Occasionally some tribes temporarily grouped together for a larger war task, like to fight the VIKING invaders, but there was no national unity in these early years.