H˙skarlar (sing. h˙skarl) or Housecarls are the "knights" of Rjurik, the elite fighting class of men sworn to the service of great men. These men form the household, or hird of nobles, heroes, or even guilders on occasion. H˙skarlar serve as bodyguards and the core of an army any noble might need to raise.
They are free men who have accepted a long term commitment as elite soldiers in the household of a nobleman. Their duties included acting as guards to their lord and the core of any army he might raise. When the call for war goes out, nobles assemble together to fight and bring their housecarls with them. As professional warriors they fight with axes or swords and wear expensive metal armor. The common men fight in other units, with spears or bows.

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