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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Fyrd \Fyrd\, Fyrdung \Fyr"dung\, n. [AS.; akin to E. fare, v. i.] (Old. Eng. Hist.) The military force of the whole nation, consisting of all men able to bear arms.

The national fyrd or militia.
--J. R. Green.


n. (cx historical English) In early Anglo-Saxon times, an army that was mobilized from freemen to defend their shire, or from select representatives to join a royal expedition.


A fyrd was a type of early Anglo-Saxon army that was mobilized from freemen to defend their shire, or from selected representatives to join a royal expedition. Service in the fyrd was usually of short duration and participants were expected to provide their own arms and provisions. The composition of the fyrd evolved over the years, particularly as a reaction to raids and invasions by the Vikings. The system of defence and conscription was reorganised during the reign of Alfred the Great, who set up 33 fortified towns (or burhs) in his kingdom of Wessex. The amount of taxation required to maintain each town was laid down in a document known as the Burghal Hidage. Each lord had his individual holding of land assessed in hides. Based on his land holding, he had to contribute men and arms to maintain and defend the burhs. Non-compliance with this requirement could lead to severe penalties.

Ultimately the fyrd consisted of a nucleus of experienced soldiers that would be supplemented by ordinary villagers and farmers from the shires who would accompany their lords.

Usage examples of "fyrd".

When the fyrd deposed him, his successor might decide to tidy up any atheling problems left around.

His rank of tanist somehow depended on the approval of the entire fyrd, as did that of the earl himself.

The fyrd sided narrowly with Aeled, and the tanist yielded without even a token fight.

But so we do not leave Lowespass undefended, I recommend that Tornado and Vireo, and Staniel remain here with the Awian Fyrd.

The far country of Awia is unwilling to guard its lands, so we do not believe that Fyrd raised in Moren should be sent to protect it.

Tawny and Staniel were now set to this task, Tawny with the Plainslands Fyrd, and Staniel in the Outer Ward.

Beside the thanes, each hundred was expected to produce a few volunteers for the fyrd, and it has been reckoned that around fifty thousand men in the country were liable to this service.

At the end of the march his army was much bigger than when he started: at all the villages up the Roman road he had rallied the fyrd to join him, and outriders must have combed the country on either side with the shouted news that he needed every man.

They vanish, or get eaten by Fyrd, or get turned into rocks, or something weird like that.