Anglo-Saxon laws


Published on

This gives a glimpse and a slight idea on the Anglo-Saxon Laws prevalent during the Anglo-Saxon period.
Please give your feedback in the comment section below.

Published in: Education, Technology
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Anglo-Saxon laws

  1. 1. What is Anglo-Saxon Law?
  2. 2.  Termed from Old English lagu and dom meaning ‘law’ and ‘judgement’.  Anglo-Saxon law is a body of written rules and customs that were in place during the Anglo-Saxon period in England.  Anglo-Saxon laws were made up of three components:  The laws and collections promulgated by the king.  Authoritative statements of customs; and  Primate compilations of legal rules and enactments.
  3. 3. Primary emphasis was on criminal law than on private law. The Anglo-Saxon law rested on the fundamental opposition between folk right and privilege. Folk right is the aggregate of rules whether formulated or not. There was a folk right of east and west Saxons, Mercians, Northumbrians, Danes and Welshmen, and this main folk right divisions persisted even after the tribal kingdoms disappeared in the 8th and 9th century. In this manner, a privilege land tenure was established.
  4. 4. Divisions
  5. 5. The various types of secular, legal pronouncements which survived from the Anglo-Saxon period can be grouped into three categories: Laws and collections of laws promulgated by public authority. Statements of custom. Private compilations of legal rules and enactments. •The fourth group might be made up of the characters, as they are based on Old English private and public law and supply us with most important materials in regard to it.
  6. 6. Influences
  7. 7. The oldest Anglo-Saxon law codes, specially in Kent and Wessex, reveals a close affinity to the laws of the North sea peoples – most of the Saxons, Frisians and Scandinavians. In subsequent history, there is a good deal of resemblance between the capitualaries, legislation of Charles Magne and his successors on one hand, the Axe of Alfred, Advert the Elder, Aethelstan and Edgar on the other. The Codification of Anglo- Saxon Law under Ethelbert (c. 600) by Lee Lawrie.
  8. 8. The direct influence of Roman law was not great during the Saxon period. We noticed neither the transmission of important legal doctrines, nor the continuous stream of Roman tradition local uses. The tribal law of real property was deeply modified by the introduction of individualistic notions as to ownership, donations, wills, rights of women etc.
  9. 9. Functions
  10. 10. Executive functions: Anglo-Saxon England did not have had a professional standing law enforcement body like our modern police. In general, if a crime was committed, then there was a victim and it was upto the victim, or the victim’s family, to seek justice. Legislative functions: The Anglo-Saxon king legislated back, then, sometimes with the council, but most of the time he enacted laws himself. Also, codes of laws were produced by a king at regular intervals. Judiciary functions: The judiciary functions of the Anglo-Saxon legal system was mainly practiced by courts like nowadays. Once a charge had been brought, it had to be heard by a court which would decide on the matter and actions would be taken as such.
  11. 11. Important features
  12. 12. The Anglo-Saxons legal system can’t be understood unless one realises the fundamental opposition between folk right and privilege. Another feature of vital importance in the history of Anglo-Saxon laws is its tendency towards maintaining and preservation of peace, which naturally takes its course towards the strongest ruler - the king. We witness in Anglo-Saxon laws the gradual evolution of more and more stringent and complete rules in respect of the king’s peace and its infringements.
  13. 13. Language and Dialect
  14. 14. The English dialect in which the Anglo-Saxon laws has been handed down is in most cases a common speech derived from west Saxon. By the 10th century the west Saxon had become predominant among the Anglo-Saxons kings and their lands were home to some of the most developed religious and monastic centres on the island . As most of the surviving old English law courts are only preserved in copies made during the 11th century, the west Saxons dialect is predominant. Traces of the Kentish dialect, however, can be detected in quotes copied out in the Textus Roffensis, a manuscript containing the earliest Kentish laws.
  15. 15. Customary laws of the Anglo-Saxons
  16. 16. As distinguished from other barbarian laws, which were written in Latin, Anglo-Saxon laws were written in Old English, they reveal no Roman influence. In the Kentian laws of Aethelbert (early 7th century),Hlothhers and Eudric, and Withred (late 7th), the differentiation of society into the nobility and the ordinary tribesman is already obvious. The Wessex laws of Ine (late 7th century), testify to the growth of the landholdings of the king, his servitors and the church, at the expense of some of the commoners, who had fallen into dependence on the aristocracy. The laws of Alfred (Wessex, late 9th century), while observing in part the features of a law code, were already a collection of royal and church enactments having force for all the territory under Alfred’s poems.
  17. 17. Various Trial Methods
  18. 18. Trial By Ordeal: It’s probably the most entertaining part of the Anglo-Saxons legal system. This method was considered to be bringing an unresolved issue to the highest court they had- God. Trial By Cold Water: Briefly stated, the accused was given holy water to drink and then tossed into a river or a pond or other fairly deep body of water. If the man was innocent , he’d sink to the bottom and if he was guilty he would float. Trial by Hot Water: In this method, a stone was placed in the bottom of a Cauldron of boiling water. The accused would be required to reach his hand in and retrieve the stone. The hand was bandaged and examined in three days. If the man was healing cleanly, then the man was presumed innocent. If the burn was infected, then he was guilty and remanded for punishment. Trial by Iron: An iron was heated until it was glowing and the accused carried it for 9 feet. Again, the hand was bandaged and examined for three days.
  19. 19. Thanks!! 