The Anglo-Saxon Dooms
The Laws of King Edward the Elder,901-924 A.D.
Of doom and suit.
King Edward commands all the reeves: that you judge such just dooms as you know to be most righteous, and as in the doom-book stands. Fear not on any account to pronounce folkright; and that every suit have a term when it shall be brought forward, that you then may pronounce.
1. And I will that every man have his warrantor; and that no man buy out of port, but have the port-reeve's witness, or that of other unlying men whom one may believe. And if any one buy out of port then let him incur the king's oferhyrnes, and let the warranty nevertheless go forward, until it be known where it shall stop. Also we have ordained: that he who should vouch to warranty should have unlying witness to the effect that he rightfully vouched it; or should bring forward an oath which he might believe who made the claim. So we have ordained the same respecting ownership; that he should adduce unlying witness thereof, or bring forward the oath, if he could, of persons unchosen, by which the claimant should be bound. But if he could not, then should be named to him six men of the same neighbourhood wherein he was resident, and of the six let him get one for one ox, or for that cattle which may be the worth of this, and afterward let it increase, according to the value of the property, if there ought to be more. Also we have ordained: if there were any evil-minded man who would put another's property in borh for wither-tihtle, that he should then declare on oath that he did not A from any knavery, but with full right, without fraud and guile," and that he then should there do as he durst with whom it is attached: "like as he it owned, so be it vouched to warranty."
Of him who denies justice to another.
2. Also we have ordained of what he were worthy who denied justice to another, either in boc-land or in folc-land, and that he should give him a term respecting the folc-land when he should do him justice before the reeve. But if he had no right either to the boc-land or to the folc-land, that he who denied the right should be liable in thirty shillings to the king; and for the second offense, the like: for the third offense, the king's oferhyrnes, that is, 120 shillings, unless he previously desist.
3. Also we have ordained concerning those men who were perjurers; if that were made evident, or an oath failed to them, or were out-proved, that they afterwards should not be oath-worthy, but ordeal-worthy.
4. King Edward exhorted his witan when they were at Exeter, that they should all search out how their frith might be better than it had previously been: for it seemed to him that it was more indifferently observed than it should be, what he had formerly commanded. He then asked them, who would apply to its amendment, and be in that fellowship that he was, and love that which he loved, and shun that which he shunned, both on sea and land? That is, then, that no man deny justice to another: if any one do so, let him make bot as it before is written; for the first offence, with thirty shillings; and for the second offense, the like; and for the third, with 120 shillings to the king.
Of the reeve who does not lawfully exact.
5. And if the reeve do not lawfully exact it, with the witness of those men who are assigned him to bear witness, then let him make bot of my oferhyrnes, with 120 shillings.
Of those accused of theft.
6. If any one be accused of theft, then let those take him in borh who before commended him to his lord, that he may justify himself thereof; or let other friends, if they have any, do the same. If he knows not who will take him in borh, then let those on whom it is incumbent take an in borh on his property. If he have neither property nor other borh, then let him be held to judgment.
Of those who will not seek their own.
7. Also I will that every man have constantly those men ready on his land, who may lead those men who desire to seek their own, and for no meed-monies prevent them, nor anywhere protect or harbour a convicted offender, willfully nor violently.
Of those who protect a convicted offender.
8. If any one disregard this, and break his oath and his wed, which all the nation has given, let him make bot as the doom-book may teach: but if he will not, let him forfeit the friendship of us all, and all that he has. If any one harbour him after that, let him make bot as the doom-book may say, and as he ought who harbours a fugutive, if it be here within. If it be within the east-country, let him make bot according as the frith-gewritu say.
Of him who forfeits his freedom.
9. If any one, through a charge of theft, forfeit his freedom, and deliver himself up, and his kindred forsake him, and he know not who shall make bot for him; let him then be worthy of the theow-work which thereto belongs, and let the wer abate for the kindred.
Of him who receives another man's man without leave.
10. Let no man receive another man's man without his leave whom he before followed, and until he be blameless towards every hand. If any one do so, let him make bot of my oferhyrnes.
11. I will that each reeve have a gemot always once in fourweeks; and so do that every man be worthy of folk-right: and that every suit have an end and a term when it shall be brought forward. If that any one disregard, let him make bot as we before ordained.