In theory all freemen of Anglo‐Saxon England were under an obligation to serve in the fyrd (army) when called upon. In practice communications were so difficult, crises so sudden, piratical or Viking raids so mobile, that the national militia was rarely summoned. Local raids were dealt with normally by the fyrd in the shires concerned, led by their ealdormen. Though after the Conquest military provision was reorganized on the basis of knight service, the fyrd remained in existence and was called upon by William I and Rufus. The growing sophistication of weapons made local forces increasingly ineffective and it is perhaps fortunate that the fyrd's later manifestations, the trained bands, militia, or Home Guard, did not have to face a major invasion.
Subjects: British History.