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The Engllish system of land tenure was much simpler than the French style Feudalism imposed by William the Conqueror. If I remember correctly the basic rank of nobility was "thane". Anybody who possessed, again if I remember right, 400 hides of land was, at least technically, a thane. I don't remember how much a hide actually was. Above the thanes were eorls or eorldermen. I forget how much land you had to have to be an eorl but it was quite a lot, there were very few of them. That was about it, thane, eorl, king. Michael Montagne

AnotherThe order of nobility in England today is a hybrid of English, Norse and Latin traditions. The Old English had a title called "Thane" which was essentially a knight or baron with sworn loyalty to the king. There were variou degrees of Thane's some ranking above others. The Thane would employ "Huscarls" - professional warriors - who would raise armies for the Thane when the need arose.

The land was administered in Wessex through the shire model. The shires were governed by a "Eorlderman". Eorldermen were often from an established royal dynasty that no longer enjoyed the status of "king". The Eorldermen ruled the shire through a "Shire Reeve", a sort of chief executive from which we get the word "Sheriff" and a "Shire Moot" - a sort of assembly. The shire's were divided into hundreds (like a district) which were themselves administered by a "Hundred Reeve" and a "Hundred Moot".

Above all of this were royalty who were afforded the title "Ætheling" - basically meaning "royal son". The Witan - a sort of parliament of leading nobles and clergy - chose or confirmed the next king from among the Æthelings.

The Norse Vikings introduced the term "Earl" which comes from "Yarl" and means "lord". The Norman French introduced, or re-introduced, latin terms such as Duke (from Dux), Baron and Marquess etc.

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Q: Did King Alfred have Lords and Earls and such?
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