His thanes are created by the delivery of a sword, which the king bolds by the blade and the thane takes by the hilt. (English earls were created by the girding with a sword. “Taking treasure, and weapons and horses, and feasting in a hall with the king” is synonymous with thane-hood or gesith-ship in “Beowulf’s Lay"). A king’s thanes must avenge him if he falls, and owe him allegiance. (This was paid in the old English monarchies by kneeling and laying the head down at the lord’s knee.)
The trick by which the Mock-king, or King of the Beggars (parallel to our Boy-bishop, and perhaps to that enigmatic churls’ King of the “O. E. Chronicle”, s.a. 1017, Eadwiceorla-kyning) gets allegiance paid to him, and so secures himself in his attack on the real king, is cleverly devised. The king, besides being a counsel giver himself, and speaking the law, has “counsellors”, old and wise men, “sapientes” (like the 0. E. Thyle). The aged warrior counsellor, as Starcad here and Master Hildebrand in the “Nibelungenlied”, is one type of these persons, another is the false counsellor, as Woden in guise of Bruni, another the braggart, as Hunferth in “Beowulf’s Lay”. At “moots” where laws are made, kings and regents chosen, cases judged, resolutions taken of national importance, there are discussions, as in that armed most the host.
The king has, beside his estates up and down the country, sometimes (like Hrothgar with his palace Heorot in “Beowulf’s Lay”) a great fort and treasure house, as Eormenric, whose palace may well have really existed. There is often a primitive and negroid character about dwellings of formidable personages, heads placed on stakes adorn their exterior, or shields are ranged round the walls.