Housecarls were well-trained, full-time Anglo-Saxon soldiers who were paid for their services. They wore a short mail-coat called a byrnie. The sleeves were left short to enable freedom of movement in battle. They wore a pointed helmet to help deflect blows from sword attacks. Their main weapon was the battle-axe. The heavy curved blade and long handle meant that the weapon had to be held with both hands. Housecarls also used a long double-edged sword with a shallow groove running along the blade on both sides to make it lighter.