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The Laws of Aethelberht (aka Ethelbert)

Submitted by Pat on Wed, 07/12/2006 - 5:49pm

"THESE ARE THE DOOMS [DECREES] WHICH KING AETHELBERHT ESTABLISHED
IN THE DAYS OF AUGUSTINE

1. [Theft of] the property of God and of the church [shall be
compensated], twelve fold; a bishop's property, eleven fold; a
priest's property, nine fold; a deacon's property, six fold; a
cleric's property, three fold; church frith [breach of the peace
of the church; right of sanctuary and protection given to those
within its precincts], two fold [that of ordinary breach of the
public peace]; m....frith [breach of the peace of a meeting
place], two fold.

2. If the King calls his leod [his people] to him, and any one
there do them evil, [let him compensate with] a two-fold bot
[damages for the injury], and 50 shillings to the King.

3. If the King drink at any one's home, and any one there do any
lyswe [evil deed], let him make two-fold bot.

4. If a freeman steal from the King, let him repay nine fold.

5. If a man slay another in the King's tun [enclosed dwelling
premises], let him make bot with 50 shillings.

6. If any one slay a freeman, 50 shillings to the King, as drihtin
beah [payment to a lord in compensaton for killing his freeman].

7. If the King's ambiht smith [smith or carpenter] or laad rine
[man who walks before the King or guide or escort], slay a man,
let him pay a half leod geld.

8. [Offenses against anyone or anyplace under] the King's mund
byrd [protection or patronage], 50 shillings.

9. If a freeman steal from a freeman, let him make threefold bot;
and let the King have the wite [fine] and all the chattels
[necessary to pay the fine]. (Chattels was a variant of "cattle".)

10. If a man lie with the King's maiden [female servant], let him
pay a bot of 50 shillings.

11. If she be a grinding slave, let him pay a bot of 25 shillings.
The third [class of servant] 12 shillings.

12. Let the King's fed esl [woman who serves him food or nurse] be
paid for with 20 shillings.

13. If a man slay another in an eorl's tun [premises], let [him]
make bot with 12 shillings.

14. If a man lie with an eorl's birele [female cupbearer], let him
make bot with 12 shillings.

15. [Offenses against a person or place under] a ceorl's mund byrd
[protection], 6 shillings.

16. If a man lie with a ceorl's birele [female cupbearer], let him
make bot with 6 shillings; with a slave of the second [class], 50
scaetts; with one of the third, 30 scaetts.

17. If any one be the first to invade a man's tun [premises], let
him make bot with 6 shillings; let him who follows, with 3
shillings; after, each, a shilling.

18. If a man furnish weapons to another where there is a quarrel,
though no injury results, let him make bot with 6 shillings.

19. If a weg reaf [highway robbery] be done [with weapons
furnished by another], let him [the man who provided the weapons]
make bot with 6 shillings.

20. If the man be slain, let him [the man who provided the
weapons] make bot with 20 shillings.

21. If a [free] man slay another, let him make bot with a half
leod geld [wergeld for manslaughter] of 100 shillings.

22. If a man slay another, at the open grave let him pay 20
shillings, and pay the whole leod within 40 days.

23. If the slayer departs from the land, let his kindred pay a
half leod.

24. If any one bind a freeman, let him make bot with 20 shillings.

25. If any one slay a ceorl's hlaf aeta [loaf or bread eater;
domestic or menial servant], let him make bot with 6 shillings.

26. If [anyone] slay a laet of the highest class, let him pay 80
shillings; of the second class, let him pay 60 shillings; of the
third class, let him pay 40 shillings.

27. If a freeman commit edor breach [breaking through the fenced
enclosure and forcibly entering a ceorl's dwelling], let him make
bot with 6 shillings.

28. If any one take property from a dwelling, let him pay a three-
fold bot.

29. If a freeman goes with hostile intent through an edor [the
fence enclosing a dwelling], let him make bot with 4 shillings.

30. If [in so doing] a man slay another, let him pay with his own
money, and with any sound property whatever.

31. If a freeman lie with a freeman's wife, let him pay for it
with his wer geld, and obtain another wife with his own money, and
bring her to the other [man's dwelling].

32. If any one thrusts through the riht ham scyld [legal means of
protecting one's home], let him adequately compensate.

33. If there be feax fang [seizing someone by the hair], let there
be 50 sceatts for bot.

34. If there be an exposure of the bone, let bot be made with 3
shillings.

35. If there be an injury to the bone, let bot be made with 4
shillings.

36. If the outer hion [outer membrane covering the brain] be
broken, let bot be made with 10 shillings.

37. If it be both [outer and inner membranes covering the brain],
let bot be made with 20 shillings.

38. If a shoulder be lamed, let bot be made with 30 shillings.

39. If an ear be struck off, let bot be made with 12 shillings.

40. If the other ear hear not, let bot be made with 25 shillings.

41. If an ear be pierced, let bot be made with 3 shillings.

42. If an ear be mutilated, let bot be made with 6 shillings.

43. If an eye be [struck] out, let bot be made with 50 shillings.

44. If the mouth or an eye be injured, let bot be made with 12
shillings.

45. If the nose be pierced, let bot be made with 9 shillings.

46. If it be one ala, let bot be made with 3 shillings.

47. If both be pierced, let bot be made with 6 shillings.

48. If the nose be otherwise mutilated, for each [cut, let] bot be
made with 6 shillings.

49. If it be pierced, let bot be made with 6 shillings.

50. Let him who breaks the jaw bone pay for it with 20 shillings.

51. For each of the four front teeth, 6 shillings; for the tooth
which stands next to them 4 shillings; for that which stands next
to that, 3 shillings; and then afterwards, for each a shilling.

52. If the speech be injured, 12 shillings. If the collar bone be
broken, let bot be made with 6 shillings.

53. Let him who stabs [another] through an arm, make bot with 6
shillings. If an arm be broken, let him make bot with 6 shillings.

54. If a thumb be struck off, 20 shillings. If a thumb nail be
off, let bot be made with 3 shillings. If the shooting [fore]
finger be struck off, let bot be made with 8 shillings. If the
middle finger be struck off, let bot be made with 4 shillings. If
the gold [ring]finger be struck off, let bot be made with 6
shillings. If the little finger be struck off, let bot be made
with 11 shillings.

55. For every nail, a shilling.

56. For the smallest disfigurement of the face, 3 shillings; and
for the greater, 6 shillings.

57. If any one strike another with his fist on the nose, 3
shillings.

58. If there be a bruise [on the nose], a shilling; if he receive
a right hand bruise [from protecting his face with his arm], let
him [the striker] pay a shilling.

59. If the bruise [on the arm] be black in a part not covered by
the clothes, let bot be made with 30 scaetts.

60. If it be covered by the clothes, let bot for each be made with
20 scaetts.

61. If the belly be wounded, let bot be made with 12 shillings; if
it be pierced through, let bot be made with 20 shillings.

62. If any one be gegemed [pregnant], let bot be made with 30
shillings.

63. If any one be cear wund [badly wounded], let bot be made with
3 shillings.

64. If any one destroy [another's] organ of generation [penis],
let him pay him with 3 leod gelds: if he pierce it through, let
him make bot with 6 shillings; if it be pierced within, let him
make bot with 6 shillings.

65. If a thigh be broken, let bot be made with 12 shillings; if
the man become halt [lame], then friends must arbitrate.

66. If a rib be broken, let bot be made with 3 shillings.

67. If [the skin of] a thigh be pierced through, for each stab 6
shillings; if [the wound be] above an inch [deep], a shilling;
for two inches, 2; above three, 3 shillings.

68. If a sinew be wounded, let bot be made with 3 shillings.

69. If a foot be cut off, let 50 shillings be paid.

70. If a great toe be cut off, let 10 shillings be paid.

71. For each of the other toes, let one half that for the
corresponding finger be paid.

72. If the nail of a great toe be cut off, 30 scaetts for bot; for
each of the others, make bot with 10 scaetts.

73. If a freewoman loc bore [with long hair] commit any leswe
[evil deed], let her make a bot of 30 shillings.

74. Let maiden bot [compensation for injury to an unmarried woman]
be as that of a freeman.

75. For [breach of] the mund [protection] of a widow of the best
class, of an eorl's degree, let the bot be 50 shillings; of the
second, 20 shillings; of the third, 12 shillings; of the fourth, 6
shillings.

76. If a man carry off a widow not under his own protection by
right, let the mund be twofold.

77. If a man buy a maiden with cattle, let the bargain stand, if
it be without fraud; but if there be fraud, let him bring her home
again, and let his property be restored to him.

78. If she bear a live child, she shall have half the property, if
the husband die first.

79. If she wish to go away with her children, she shall have half
the property.

80. If the husband wish to keep them [the children], [she shall
have the same portion] as one child.

81. If she bear no child, her paternal kindred shall have the fioh
[her money and chattels] and the morgen gyfe [morning gift: a gift
made to the bride by her husband on the morning following the
consummation of the marriage].

82. If a man carry off a maiden by force, let him pay 50 shillings
to the owner, and afterwards buy [the object of] his will from the
owner.

83. If she be betrothed to another man in money [at a bride
price], let him [who carried her off] make bot with 20 shillings.

84. If she become gaengang [pregnant], 35 shillings; and 15
shillings to the King.

85. If a man lie with an esne's wife, her husband still living,
let him make twofold bot.

86. If one esne slay another unoffending, let him pay for him at
his full worth.

87. If an esne's eye and foot be struck out or off, let him be
paid for at his full worth.

88. If any one bind another man's esne, let him make bot with 6
shillings.

89. Let [compensation for] weg reaf [highway robbery] of a theow
[slave] be 3 shillings.

90. If a theow steal, let him make twofold bot [twice the value of
the stolen goods].

Source: Our Legal Heritage, 4th ed., by S.A. Reilly of Chicago, Illinois (available as a free e-book thanks to Project Gutenberg), at the end of the first chapter.

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