The fyrds were a form of militia used in early medieval England. They were made up of free, landowning men who were obligated to serve their king or lord in times of war. The word “fyrds” is derived from the Old English word “fyrd,” which means “military expedition” or “campaign.”
The fyrds were organized at a local level, with each community responsible for providing a certain number of soldiers based on its population and wealth. These soldiers were typically equipped with simple weapons, such as spears or bows, and were trained to fight in a shield wall formation.
The fyrds played an important role in English history, particularly during the period of Viking invasions in the 9th and 10th centuries. They were also used in conflicts between English kingdoms, such as during the reign of King Alfred the Great. However, as England became more centralized under the Norman kings, the use of fyrds declined in favor of a professional standing army.
Despite their eventual obsolescence, the fyrds represented an important element of early English society. They reflected the close ties between land ownership and military service, and served as a way for communities to defend themselves against external threats.