[Ansteorra] legal rights at ALFED court
willowdewisp at juno.com
willowdewisp at juno.com
Wed Jan 30 16:23:15 PST 2008
Your Legal Rights Under Ælfred, King of WessexFirst we enjoin, what is most necessary, that each man keep carefully his oath and his pledge. If anyone plots against the king's life, by himself or by means of the harbouring of fugitives or his men, he is to be liable for his life and all that he possesses.If anyone fights or draws his weapon in the king's hall, and he is captured, it is to be at the king's judgement - either death or life, as he wishes to grant him.If he disturbs a public meeting by drawing a weapon, he is to pay 120 shillings to the ealdorman as a fine.Moreover we declare that a man may fight on behalf of his lord, if anyone is fighting against the lord, without incurring a feud; similarly, the lord may fight on behalf of his man.And a man may fight without incurring a feud if he finds another man with his lawful wife, behind closed doors or under the same blanket; or if he finds another man with his legitimate daughter, or with his legitimate sister, or with his mother who was given as lawful wife to his father.THE ABOVE are all direct extracts from the laws of King Ælfred, who ruled Wessex from 871 (the year in which The Circle of Ceridwen is set) to his death in 899. The only English monarch to bear the honorific "the Great", Ælfred was not only a tactical genius who repelled the rapaciously-advancing Danes, but also a man deeply concerned with human and divine justice. His law code was drawn up in the late 880's or early 890's. In his preface, Ælfred explains that he examined many existing law codes from the Old Testament to those of previous Anglo-Saxon kings in neighbouring kingdoms: Then I, King Ælfred, gathered them together and ordered to be written many of the ones that our forefathers observed - those that pleased me; and many of the ones that did not please me I rejected with the advice of my councillors, and commanded them to be observed in a different way. For I dared not presume to set down in writing at all many of my own, since it was unknown to me what would please those who should come after us. But those which I found either in the days of Ine, my kinsman, or of Offa, king of the Mercians, or of Ælthelberht (who first among the English people received baptism), and which seemed to me most just, I collected herein, and omitted the others.The Laws outline a wide variety of crimes and appropriate punishments, from cattle-rustling to the rape of a slave girl to cutting a man's long hair off without his consent (short hair was often the sign of a slave, thus to be forcibly shorn would be an insult to one's class). Some punishments are excruciatingly apt: coiners are to have their hand nailed to their front door for daring to debase the realm's currency.
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