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قراءة كتاب Our Legal Heritage: King AEthelbert - King George III, 600 A.D. - 1776 June 2011 (Sixth) Edition

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‏اللغة: English
Our Legal Heritage: King AEthelbert - King George III, 600 A.D. - 1776
June 2011 (Sixth) Edition

Our Legal Heritage: King AEthelbert - King George III, 600 A.D. - 1776 June 2011 (Sixth) Edition

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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far away. These strips he cultivated, sowed with seed, and harvested for himself and his family. After the harvest, they reverted to common ownership for grazing by pigs, sheep, and geese. As soon as haymaking was over, the meadows became common grazing land for horses, cows, and oxen. Not just any inhabitant, but usually only those who owned a piece of land in the parish were entitled to graze their animals on the common land, and each owner had this right of pasture for a definite number of animals. The faster horse replaced the ox as the primary work animal. Other farm implements were: coulters, which gave free passage to the plough by cutting weeds and turf, picks, spades and shovels, reaping hooks and scythes, and sledge hammers and anvils. Strips of land for agriculture were added from waste land as the community grew. Waste lands were moors bristling with brushwood, or gorse, heather and wanton weeds, reed-coated marshes, quaking peat-bogs, or woods grown haphazard on sand or rock. With iron axes, forests could be cleared to provide more arable land.

Some villages had a smith, a wheelwright, and a cooper. There were villages which had one or two market days in each week. Cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, calves, and hare were sold there. London was a town on the Thames River under the protection of the Celtic river god Lud: Lud's town. It's huts were probably built over the water, as was Celtic custom. It was a port for foreign trade. Near the town was Ludhill. Each Celtic tribe in England made its own coinage. Silver and bronze were first used, and then gold. The metal was put into a round form and then placed between two engraved dies, which were hit.

Flint workers mined with deer antler picks and ox shoulder blade shovels for flint to grind into axes, spearheads, and arrowheads. Mine shafts were up to thirty feet deep and necessitated the use of chalk lamps fueled by animal fat with wicks of moss. The flint was hauled up in baskets.

Common men and women were now buried in tombs within memorial burial mounds of earth with stone entrances and interior chambers. A man's weapons and shield were buried with him and a woman's spindle and weaving baton, and perhaps beads or pottery with her. At times, mounds of earth would simply be covered over piles of corpses and ashes in urns. In these mass graves, some corpses had spear holes or sword cuts, indicating death by violence. The Druid priests, the learned class of the Celts, taught the Celts to believe in reincarnation of the soul after death of one body into another body. They also threw prized possessions into lakes and rivers as sacrifices to water gods. They placed images of gods and goddesses in shrines, which were sometimes large enough to be temples. They thought of their gods as supernatural magicians.

With the ability to grow food and the acquisition of land by conquest by invading groups, the population grew. There were different classes of men. The freemen were eorls [noble freemen] or ceorls [ordinary free farmers]. Slaves were not free. Freemen had long hair and beards. Slaves' hair was shorn from their heads so that they were bald. Slaves were chained and often traded. Prisoners taken in battle, especially native Britons taken by invading groups, became slaves. A slave who was captured or purchased was a "theow". An "esne" was a slave who worked for hire. A "weallas" was a Welsh slave. Criminals became slaves of the person wronged or of the king. Sometimes a father pressed by need sold his children or his wife into bondage. Debtors, who increased in number during famine, which occurred regularly, became slaves by giving up the freeman's sword and spear, picking up a slave's mattock [pick ax for the soils], and placing their head within a lord's or lady's hands. They were called wite- theows. The original meaning of the word lord was "loaf-giver". Children with a slave parent were slaves. The slaves lived in huts around the homes of big landholders, which were made of logs and consisted on one large room or hall. An open hearth was in the middle of the earthen floor of the hall, which was strewn with rushes. There was a hole in the roof to let out the smoke. Here the landholder and his men would eat meat, bread, salt, hot spiced ale, and mead while listening to minstrels sing about the heroic deeds of their ancestors. Richer men drank wine. There were festivals which lasted several days, in which warriors feasted, drank, gambled, boasted, and slept where they fell. Physical strength and endurance in adversity were admired traits.

Slaves often were used as grain grinders, ploughmen, sowers, haywards, woodwards, shepherds, goatherds, swineherds, oxherds, cowherds, dairymaids, and barnmen. Slaves had no legal rights. A lord could kill his slave at will. A wrong done to a slave was regarded as done to his owner. If a person killed another man's slave, he had to compensate him with the slave's purchase price. The slave owner had to answer for the offenses of his slaves against others, as for the mischief done by his cattle. Since a slave had no property, he could not be fined for crimes, but was whipped, mutilated, or killed.

During famine, acorns, beans, peas, and even bark were ground down to supplement flour when grain stocks grew low. People scoured the hedgerows for herbs, roots, nettles, and wild grasses, which were usually left for the pigs. Sometimes people were driven to infanticide or group suicide by jumping together off a cliff or into the water.

Several large kingdoms came to replace the many small ones. The people were worshipping pagan gods when St. Augustine came to England in 596 A.D. to Christianize them. King AEthelbert of Kent [much later a county] and his wife, who had been raised Christian on the continent, met him when he arrived. The King gave him land where there were ruins of an old city. Augustine used stones from the ruins to build a church which was later called Canterbury. He also built the first St. Paul's church in London. Aethelbert and his men who fought with him and ate and lived in his household [gesiths] became Christian. A succession of princesses went out from Kent to marry other Saxon kings and convert them to Christianity.

Augustine knew how to write, but King AEthelbert did not. The King announced his laws at meetings of his people and his eorls would decide the punishments. There was a fine of 120s. for disregarding a command of the King. He and Augustine decided to write down some of these laws, which now included the King's new law concerning the church.

These laws concern personal injury, killing, theft, burglary, marriage, adultery, and inheritance. The blood feud's private revenge for killing had been replaced by payment of compensation to the dead man's kindred. One paid a man's "wergeld" [worth] to his kindred for causing his wrongful death. The wergeld [wer] of a king was an unpayable amount of about 7000s., of an aetheling [a king-worthy man of the extended royal family] was 1500s., of an eorl, 300s., of a ceorl, 100s., of a laet [agricultural worker in Kent, which class was between free and slave], 40-80s., and of a slave nothing. At this time a shilling could buy a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere. If a ceorl killed an eorl, he paid three times as much as an eorl would have paid as murderer. The penalty for slander was tearing out of the tongue. If an aetheling was guilty of this offense, his tongue was worth five times that of a coerl, so he had to pay proportionately more to ransom it. The crimes of murder, treachery to one's own lord, arson, house breaking, and open theft, were punishable by death and forfeiture of all property.

- The Law -

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