The owner of two hydes of land was ranked above a ceorl, or simple farmer, while the owner of twelve hydes was a royal thane.
The Teutonic race had a myth which explained the origin of the classes eorl, ceorl and thrall (earl, churl and slave).
While the pure "theow" or absolute slave disappeared therefore the ceorl or villein sank lower in the social scale.
War, in short, which was an unwelcome accident to the ceorl, was the business of life to the Gesith.
Chorl is frequently used for a countryman, in old books, from the Saxon ceorl.
An eorl could call upon the ceorl farmers for about forty days to fight off an invading group.
For the ceorl, who could not quit the land on which he was born, or free himself from slavery, life was particularly hard.
Every ceorl hath some hours to himself to employ to his profit, and can lay by for his own ends.
How the difference arose we do not know, but we do know that the Eorl had privileges which the ceorl had not.
To say nothing of Welshmen, there was quite enough inter-tribal warfare to supply the ceorl with a captive.