Finally, it should not be forgotten that the king's right to call upon 'every able bodied man' for military service was never forgotten. Right up until the time of Harold Godwinson the king retained that right. However, just because the king had the right did not mean he exercised it. The duty to serve was confined to the shire boundaries and for a single day, otherwise the service had to be paid, except in the Welsh and Scottish Marches, where 15 days seems to have been the norm. It is useful to note that when this levy was called out, as in 1006, the term 'the whole of the people' is used rather than the more military term fyrd. As time went by and armies became more and more professional and better and better equipped, a 'peasant levy' of untrained men equipped with hunting spears, and perhaps if they were lucky, a shield loaned to them by their lord, became less and less use. If men such as this were called upon (and it would be rare for this to happen), they would not be expected to get involved in the thick of the fighting. Rather, they would get jobs such as holding the fyrd's horses, guarding the baggage train, ferrying supplies of javelins and water to the fyrdmen, tending to the wounded, carrying messages, defending burhs, etc.. After all how much use is an untrained, unarmoured farmer going to be against a well equipped, well trained professional warrior who's been learning his deadly trade from the first time he was able to pick up a weapon?
''Original article by Ben Levick 1995''