Below the thegns were the ceorls, freemen, farmers and independent landed householders who formed the mainstay of the Anglo-Saxon
kingdom, based as it was on a rural economy. The term free
in an Anglo-Saxon context can be misleading, since there
were many degrees of freedom. Ceorls were 'folcfry' (folk-free), that is, free in the eyes of the community. They enjoyed
weregilds and had the right to seek compensations for other free kinsmen. They were allowed to bear arms and be considered
'fyrd worthy' and 'moot worthy'. This meant they were considered worthy to serve in the fyrd and take part in folk meetings.
They did not have the same degree of freedom as thegns or ealdormen. There were three main classes of ceorl, although the
dividing line between the classes was indistinct. First were the geneatas, the peasant aristocracy who paid rent to their
overlord. Geneat originally meant companion, implying that the class originated from the lord's household, often receiving
land as a gift. The Thegn's Law source on the duty of a geneat:
"The geneat's duty varies, depending upon what is determined for the estate. In some he must pay ground rent and one
store-pig a year, and ride, and perform carrying services and supply cartage, work and entertain his lord, reap and mow, cut
deer-fences and maintain hides, build and fence fortifications, conduct strangers to the manor, pay church dues and alms,
attend his superior, and guard the horse, carry messages far and near wherever he is directed."