According to 1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth, a housecarl was a professional soldier in the service of some English noble, trained in the sword and battleaxe on foot rather than in fighting on horseback like a knight would in continental Europe. A Norwegian saga is supposed to say that one housecarl is worth two other soldiers such as those of the Fyrd volunteer army. However, each noble had a fairly small number of these in his service, as they were expensive to maintain when no fighting was going on.