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(commonly), thegn
1. (in Anglo-Saxon England) a member of an aristocratic class, ranking below an ealdorman, whose status was hereditary and who held land from the king or from another nobleman in return for certain services
2. (in medieval Scotland)
a. a person of rank, often the chief of a clan, holding land from the king
b. a lesser noble who was a Crown official holding authority over an area of land



(Russian, druzhina), a band of warriors grouped around a tribal leader and, later, around a prince or king. This type of military organization is most characteristic of the period of the breakdown of the clan system and the emergence of feudal relationships.

Historical sources of the first century B.C. indicate that the thane of the ancient Germans was only a temporary organization, but by the first century A.D. it had become a permanent institution. The thane and its leader were bound by mutual obligations: the warriors were to defend their chief, and he in turn was to provide them with a living. Enriched by the spoils of war, these warriors were gradually transformed into a tribal military aristocracy. In barbarian law, they represented a priviliged stratum, often entitled to a higher wergild than the rest of the population. As a group, they supported the rising power of tribal leaders and the emergence of royal power. Among the German tribes, the societal role of the thane expanded greatly during the invasions into the Roman Empire (fourth to sixth centuries). As a result of the conquests and, later, of royal grants, thane members acquired landholdings and became a part of the rising class of feudal lords. Such bands of warriors were often found in the service not only of kings and princes but also of large private landholders. As feudalism developed, this system was gradually replaced by vassal relationships and corresponding types of military organization. The thane type of relationship was also characteristic of various non-Germanic peoples.

References in periodicals archive ?
Said papers cover everything from strange castles and prehistoric landscapes in Somerset to the trail of the hunter-gatherers in southwestern England, physical expressions of Church customs in early medieval Britain, loose thegns in Wessex, canons in France, Angevin lordship and colonial Romanesque in Ireland, the small locus of a bishop, an aristocratic mausoleum at a French abbey, nakedness and drunkenness at Tong Castle, crises in archeological communications, proof that not all archeology is rubbish in three artifacts and commentary on what we really see in past landscapes.
The 'backbone' of the new army was the class of thegns, who were given lands in return for their military service.
He replaced over four thousand English thegns (holders of royal land) with only 200 Normans.
The presenting jury was to have at least twelve men of the village and at least four thegns [knights].
2, 453-454] stress, "pleas and forfeitures were among profitable rights which the king could grant to prelates and thegns.