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HIST 1001-B Nov 15,2012.docx

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HIST 1001
Hal Goldman

Lecture 16- Development of Common law tradition Witan Folkmoot (Moot – to meet) Wergild (Also weregeld) Ealdormen (“elders” modern – “aldermen”) Compurgation Judicial Ordeal Outlawry Forth Lateran Council (1215) Innocent III Norman Conquest (1066) Tenants in Capite Mesne Lords (Middle Lords) Domesday book (1086) Inquisitio Shire Gerefa (Shire Reeve – Sheriff) Peine forte et dure (pain – hard and strong) • Wrong against one member of clan was wrong against all and could be avenged • Germanic tribes were based on honour • Blood feud – ex. Beowulf • Feuds/quarrels go down decade and generation after generation • Medieval men understood the danger of the blood feud • Tried to stop them, did it in the limits of their own societies • In 16 century, there was no state -> owed loyalty and taxes to the “king” • Did not come to throne by inheritance but by leadership and skill in battle • Elected by the high chieftains • Origin of “kings court” -> king would judge trials • Medieval law/justice • Medieval men constructed a legal system that worked for them within the constrictions their society put on • The elders – Aldermen, would meet in the area to hear reports and allegations of wrongdoing -> Folk moot • Meet at prominent place, like a rock or a tree (moot rock or tree) • Accusatory charges, the person harmed or the family brings the charge itself, there is no state that’s been prosecuted to do the wrongs. • People are tightly bound together-small communities • First system -> All alternative to blood feuds -> Wergild (man gold) Anglo-Saxons substituted money as a charge • Pay compensation instead of blood feuds • Elders would determine appropriate amount based on what the elders said • Deciding how to solve the matter based on traditions, creates predictability th th • These (wergild list) pricelists written down in 6 and 7 century became the first written laws in anglo legal history • Elders did not judge disputes -> DID NOT DECIDE GUILTY OR INNOCENT • Did not establish resolving, they act more as referees • Formal accusation with witnesses available, elders would help determine the appropriate wergild • If there were witnesses, the person has to take an oath before God • The accused has to swear an oath to God that he didn’t • Compurgation -> Oath helping -> accused has to get other people to who are oath worthy men to the folk moot to swear on his behalf -> swear that the accused could be trusted • *oaths are taken seriously* word is your bond • If you develop a reputation for untruthfulness in a small closely knit community -> it’s a harm for you • Not everyone can swear an oath, to be oath worthy, had to be free (not serf), cannot be foreigner -> oath swearer was a status in that society • In a literate society where word is your bond, class marker, it means that the person has good reputation, not foreigner, slave or social outcast • Oath helpers purpose is to show the measure of a person’s reputation for honesty • Willnot swear unless they believed that the person was innocent • If oath was not enough, is not oath worthy or cannot get enough people, he had to go to judicial ordeal • Check into local church, would shave his head, and change clothes into robes of cleric and then would spend all weekend fasting and praying, water bread and green vegetables, prepare all weekend for Sunday. The priests were working on the accused making sure that they were not guilty • Smell of burning metal is wafting through the church with the hot rod in the fire • Mass on Sundays -> • Iron rod is taken out of fire, holy water sprinkled onto the rod, take the rod and take 9 steps • If your hand was healing -> you were innocent, if it was infected, you were guilty • Ordeal is last resort -> only if the other systems fail that we go to judicial ordeal • For a guilty person facing mutilation or death -> found guilty, would be executed • If they’re guilty or had low status, ordeal may be a good bet • Role of priest shows the intimacy to law and religion, thy give legitimacy to the results-> Could be bribed • Ordeal of cold water, bound and thrown into baptismal pool -> if you float you’re guilty, if you sank you’re innocent • Ordeal of bread and ordeal of rock • Ordeal is useful for hidden crimes -> sex offenses or paternity (future of kingdom may hinge on whose child), heresy, sorcery, is good for finding answers to questions for hidden crimes
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