In 874 Ceolwulf, a king's thegn or baron, was made king by the Danes, and definitely acknowledged their overlordship. In 877, after the second invasion of Wessex, the Danes seem to have taken the eastern part of Mercia into their own hands.
But the western half they handed over to an unwise thegn named Ceolwulf, who bought for a short space the precarious title of king by paying great tribute.
Preserved by the devotion of his thegn Lilla,Edwin vowed to become a Christian if victorious over his treacherous enemy.
In a tertiary sense the word appears to have been occasionally employed as equivalent to the Latin miles - usually translated by thegn - which in the earlier middle ages was used as the designation of the domestic as well as of the martial officers or retainers of sovereigns and princes or great personages.
3 But the word thegn itself, that is, when it was used as the description of an attendant of the king, appears to have meant more especially a military attendant.