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The military organisation of the Anglo-Saxons is a notoriously difficult and obscure subject. It is impossible to give firm dates or precise details of developments, mainly because the Saxons did not need to define their military organisation for themselves; it was part of the life of every able bodied man. In the beginning there were simply war bands, small bodies of semi-professional or solely professional warriors led by their chosen chiefs. Loyalty to a chief was the greatest virtue, and warriors sought out a leader who would further their military career. If a chief or king died in battle his men would according to lore die avenging him, although a few might survive after being struck down and left for dead. It was considered dishonourable to leave the battlefield on which your lord had been slain, and it was not unknown for those few who did survive to be executed by their lord's successor for their disloyalty and lack of zeal.
''Original article by Ben Levick 1991.''