2. DOOMS OF HLOTHAERE AND EADRIC (685-86)

1. If some one's servant[1] slays a man of noble birth, one whose wergeld is 300s., his master shall give up the slayer [to the kindred] and also pay [them] the value of three [ordinary] men.[2]

2. If the slayer escapes, he shall then add the value of a fourth man and shall clear himself with good oath-helpers, [proving] that he was unable to secure the slayer.

3. If some one's servant slays a freeman, one whose wergeld is 100s., his master shall give up the slayer and pay also the value of a second man....

5. If a freeman steals a man, and he returns to accuse [the former], he shall make a personal accusation and the accused man shall then clear himself if he can: every [such] man shall have a number of freemen as oath-helpers, with [at least] one of them from the same vill to which he himself belongs. If he cannot thus clear himself, then he shall pay compensation to the best of his ability....

7. If [presumably] one man steals property from another, and if the owner afterwards seizes it, the accused shall vouch to warranty at the king's hall,[3] presenting, if he can, the man who sold it to him. If he cannot do so, he shall give it up and the owner shall have [legal title].

8. If a man accuses another of a misdeed, and if he meets that [accused] man in an assembly (medle) or in a court (■inge), the [accused] man must regularly furnish the other with a surety[4] and submit to whatever justice the Kentish doomsmen[5] prescribe....

11. If a man in some one else's house calls another a perjurer, or accosts him insultingly with scandalous words, he shall pay 1s. to the householder, 6s. to the man whom he insulted, and 12s. to the king.

12. If, where men are drinking, one takes the tankard from another without any fault [on the part of the latter], by ancient custom he shall pay 1s. to the householder, 6s. to the man whose tankard he took, and 12s. to the king.

13. If, where men are drinking, one draws his weapon but inflicts no injury with it, he shall pay 1s. to the householder and 12s. to the king.

14. If the house is bloodied, he shall pay the mundbyrd[6] of the householder, and to the king [a fine of] 50s.

15. If any one entertains, as a guest in his own house, a trader or some other man from beyond the border, keeping him for three nights and supplying him with food, and if he then does wrong to some one, the man [of the house] shall bring him to justice or satisfy justice in his place.

16. If a Kentishman buys property in London-wick,[7] he must have as witnesses two or three reliable freemen or the king's wick-reeve. Then, should any one take it away from the man in Kent, he shall vouch to warranty at the king's hall (sele) in [London-]wick the man who sold it to him, if the man is known to him and can be produced for warranty. If he cannot do that, he shall swear on the altar, together with one of his witnesses or with the king's reeve, that he bought the property honestly and by public purchase in [London] wick, and its value shall then be returned to him. If, however, he cannot justify himself by such lawful process, he must surrender it and the [rightful] owner shall have [legal title].

(Anglo-Saxon) Ibid., I, 9 f.


[1] Esne, who was evidently unfree, although the ordinary word for slave in these dooms is ■euw. Cf. Wihtraed, 22 (below, p. 6).

[2] Because the slain man's wergeld was thrice that of an ordinary man. Cf. art. 3, below.

[3 ]Sele; cf. art. 16, below. Such a royal hall was apparently not a private residence, but rather an administrative centre in charge of a reeve, as is indicated at London. On the procedure known to the Anglo-Saxons as team, and later styled vouching to warranty, see Holdsworth, History of English Law, II, 100 f. See also the oaths under no. 14, below.

[4] The surety (borh) was a person who, if the accused man escaped, would be legally responsible for his obligations.

[5] A dema, whence is derived "deemster" and "dempster," was any one who rendered dooms, legal decisions of any kind. A royal official or judge might be called a dema, but in the courts of England and the continent at this time it was the suitors, rather than the presiding magistrate, who declared the law. See Pollock and Maitland, I, 139.

[6] See above, p. 3, n. 6.

[7]Wic is a common equivalent of tun, to designate a settlement, big or little.