The Comitatus


The Comitatus was a social structure that had been established in Roman society and had been adapted to Anglo-Saxon society.


The Social structure on which the comitatus was based consisted of minor “Kings or Lords”, generally referred to as Chieftains, who commanded groups of warriors also called “retainers” and “thanes”. 


Anglo Saxon warriorFor a chief to command his thanes, according to the comitatus, he had earn their respect via two primary methods.


While it was vital for thanes to be members of tribes, if only in the pursuit of survival, their identity and sense of self worth was tied wholly to their status as warriors within their community


The worst fate for a thane was to be exiled, or to outlive all his comrades in battle. 


Theoretically, according to the precepts inherent to the comitatus, in the event that a Chieftain should die in battle his surviving thanes should not outlive him long.  For a thane to avoid the disgrace of having failed his chieftain, he had to avenge his death or die trying.

More Comitatus information

Comitatus in relation to Bushido

Comitatus in poetry