ceorl

ceorl

[chey-awrl]
noun Obsolete.
churl ( def 4 ).

Origin:
before 1000; this form borrowed (17th century) < Old English

ceorlish, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To ceorl
Collins
World English Dictionary
ceorl (tʃɛəl)
 
n
a freeman of the lowest class in Anglo-Saxon England
 
[Old English; see churl]
 
'ceorlish
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Relevant Questions
Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

ceorl

the free peasant who formed the basis of society in Anglo-Saxon England. His free status was marked by his right to bear arms, his attendance at local courts, and his payment of dues directly to the king. His wergild, the sum that his family could accept in place of vengeance if he were killed, was valued at 200 shillings. Nineteenth-century scholars often represented the ceorl as the typical peasant labourer in a kind of Anglo-Saxon democracy. Actually, he was a member of a peasant elite that was gradually extinguished between the 7th and 12th centuries. A few ceorls prospered and attained the rank of thane (a free retainer, or lord, corresponding, after the Norman Conquest, to the position of baron or knight), but most were driven, first by economic pressure and later by the Norman Conquest, into the class of unfree villeins. The word ceorl came to denote a depressed and subject peasant and, by the 14th century, was used as a pejorative.

Learn more about ceorl with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Related Words
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;