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housecarls were the immediate bodyguard of Danish and late Saxon kings, the nucleus of the army. They were introduced by Cnut and were similar to Saxon thegns. They were men of some rank, with a strong code of honour and service. Though by 1066 they did not necessarily reside at court, they were ready at short notice. Harold's housecarls at Hastings are said to have died in heaps around their fallen king. Modern scholarship has questioned the extent to which the housecarls formed an élite corps.

J. A. Cannon

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