thane

(redirected from Thegn)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

thane

(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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Thane

 

(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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
These "sons of nobles or of veteran thegns" (filii nobilum aut emeritorum militum) are precisely those milites (pegnas, hagostealdas) we have been discussing.
Abbo's rex beatissimus (most blessed king) declares that he has no wish to live after his beloved thegns have been killed and would rather die than flee.(34) AElfric renders this phrase, cyning swa swa he ful cene waes (the king who was completely brave.(35) Superlative beatitude in a Latin register reads as superior courage in an English one, even though both texts are clearly constructed according to paradigms of Christian hagiography.
Most men in this audience, being of the thegnly class, would have identified with Beowulf in the first part of the poem, insofar as he is an utterly exemplary thegn ...
Scedeland and Scedenig refer to Skaney; but perhaps also a poet who puns on "Hand-shoe" or "Glove" (2076, 2085) as the name of the thegn whom Grendel ate to his hands and feet (745) is playing also on a second meaning as "the land of scission."(10) In Scedelandum the first Beowulf's blaed wide sprang (18): i.e., "his fame was noised abroad," but perhaps also "his blade sprang wide": cf.
Scedeland and Scedenig refer to Skaney; but perhaps also a poet who puns on "Hand-shoe" or "Glove" (2076, 2085) as the name of the thegn whom Grendel ate to his hands and feet (745) is playing also on a second meaning as "the land of scission." (10) In Scedelandum the first Beowulf's blaed wide sprang (18): i.e., "his fame was noised abroad," but perhaps also "his blade sprang wide": cf.
The 'backbone' of the new army was the class of thegns, who were given lands in return for their military service.
A case in point in his research is the transfer of landed property between a king and his thegns. In this way, the onomasiological structure of the OE lexicon is shown to reflect the evolution of social relationships in Anglo- Saxon times.
He replaced over four thousand English thegns (holders of royal land) with only 200 Normans.
In 969 King Edgar signed over a tract of land called 'Wyttanige' to one of his thegns; maps of the time show a piece of land which was effectively an island in the Old Channel of the River Windrush, connected to the mainland by a causeway on its north-easterly side.
The presenting jury was to have at least twelve men of the village and at least four thegns [knights].
should be appointed to swear to make true depositions."); and King Aethelred II, the Unready (978-1016) (declaring that "a moot would be held in every wapentake," whereby the 12 oldest thegns take an oath to serve justice).