Anglo Saxon Law

34 pages
19 views

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 34
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Share
Description
Anglo-Saxon Law Author(s): Frederick Pollock Reviewed work(s): Source: The English Historical Review, Vol. 8, No. 30 (Apr., 1893), pp. 239-271 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/548043 . Accessed: 11/04/2012 04:15 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students d
Tags
Transcript
  Anglo-Saxon LawAuthor(s): Frederick PollockReviewed work(s):Source: The English Historical Review, Vol. 8, No. 30 (Apr., 1893), pp. 239-271Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/548043. Accessed: 11/04/2012 04:15 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jspJSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Oxford University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The English Historical Review. http://www.jstor.org  1893 Anglo-SaxonLaw' THE habitofpreservingsome written record of all affairsofim-portances a modern one in the northandwest ofEurope.But itis soprevalentandso muchboundupwithourdailyhabitsinmodernife thatwe have almostorgottenhowmuchof theworld'sbusiness,evenin communitiesbynomeansbarbarous,has beencarriedonwithoutit.And thestudent ofearlylaws and institu-tions,althoughthe fact isconstantlythrustuponhim,canhardlyacceptitwithoutasortofcontinuingsurprise.Thisbringswithitatemptationofsomepracticaldanger,thatofoverratingboththetrustworthinessof writtendocumentsandtheimportanceofthematterstheydealwith ascomparedwith otherthingsforwhichhedirectauthorityofdocumentsswanting.Thedangerisaspeciallybesettingonein theearly historyofEnglishlaw;andthatinquirerisfortunatewhoisnotbeguiledntopositiveerrorbythedesire ofmakinghisstatementsappearessimperfect.Intruth,themanners,dress,anddialectsof ourancestorsbefore theNormanConquestarefar betterknown tous thantheirlaws.Historicalnquirymust besubject,n the field oflaw,topeculiarandinevitabledifficulties. Inmostother casestheevidence,whetherfullorscanty,isclear so faras itgoes.Arms,ornaments,miniatures,tell theirownstory.Butwrittenlawsandlegaldocuments,beingwritten forpresentuse andnot forthepurposeofenlighteningfuturehistorians,assume know-ledgeonthereader'spartofanindefinite massofreceivedcustomandpractice.Theyareintelligibleonlywhentheyaretakenaspartofa wholewhichthey commonlygiveus littlehelptoconceive. Itmayevenhappenthatwedo notknow whetheraparticulardocumentorclassofdocumentsrepresentsthenormalcourseofaffairs,orwascommittedowritingfortheveryreasonthat thetransactionwasex-ceptional.Evenourmodernawisfoundperplexing,forreasons ofthiskind,notonlyby foreigners,butbyEnglishmenwhoare notlawyers.Wecannotexpect,then,thattheextantcollections ofAnglo-Saxonawsshouldgiveusanythinglikeacompleteviewof thelegalorjudicialinstitutionsof the time.OurGermanicancestors 'The substanceofapublicecturedeliveredntheuniversityof OxfordnMarc1892. 239  ANGLO-SAXONLA TV werenogreat penmen,andwe knowthatthereductionofanypartoftheircustomarylaws towritingwasinthefirstplacedue toforeigninfluence.Princeswhohad forsakenheathendomundertheguidanceof Roman clerksmadehaste,accordingotheirlights,to imitate thewaysofimperialandChristianRome,as Bede expresslytells usofEthelbirht(iuxtaexemnplhmRonmanorum).It is worthwhile to bear inmind,whenwearethinkingofanypossibleinfluenceofRomanformsandinstitutions inEnglandbeforethe NormanConquest,hatthere canblnoquestionofJus-tinian's'CorpusJuris.' ForthelegislationofJustinianwas stillanewthinginthe EasternEmpireitselfatthedate ofAugustine'smission tothekingdomofKent.AEthelbirhthadonlyruledthemenofKent some fiveyearsin565,when Justiniandied.Itispropertosayinexpressterms that thischapterdoesnotprofesstobeaguidetoAnglo-Saxonegalantiquitiesatlarge,butonlytodealwith them so farastheyareconnectedwiththesub-sequenthistoryof thelaws ofEngland.AlthoughEnglishprincesssuedwrittendoomswiththeadviceoftheir wisemen atintervalsduringnearlyfivecenturies,itseemsallbutcertainhatnone of them didso withtheintentionofconstructingacompletebodyoflaw.Thevery slightandinconspicuouspartwhichproceduretakesinthewrittenAnglo-Saxonlawsisenoughtoshow thattheyare meresuperstructuresonamuchlargerbaseof custom.Alltheydo istoregulateandamendn detailsnowonebranch ofcustomaryaw,nowanother.Inshorttheirrelation tothelawsandcustomsofthecountryasa wholeisnotunlikethatwhichacts ofparliamentcontinue tobearinour owndayto thein-definitemassofthecommonaw.OurknowledgeofAnglo-Saxonawrests,so far aspositiveevi-dencegoes,onseveralclassesofdocumentswhichsupplementoneanother to someextent,butare still farfromgivingacomplete view. Wehaveaconsiderableeries oflaws andordinancesofSaxonandEnglish2princes,beginningwith thoseofAEthelbirht fKent,well knowntogeneralhistoryasAugustine'sconvert,whichare ofabout the endoftheseventhcentury.The custumalpreservednFrenchand Latin underthe name ofWilliamtheConquerormaybe saidto close thelist;forthe Latincollectioncalled thelawsofHenryIisthework ofapiousandwell-meaningantiquaryaccordingo hislights,andnot ofalegislatororpracticallawyer.Thisbelongstothesecondclassofdocuments,namelycompilationsofcustomsandformulaswhicharenotknownever to havehadany 2 NodistinctivelyMerciandooms havebeenpreserved.The Kentish dooms extendovermore thanacentury,and the timeofWihtred ofKentoverlapsthat ofIneofWessex.Neverthelesstheyform acompact groupofarchaictypedistinct from themainlinewhichbeginsinWessex. 240April  ANGLO-SAXONLAWpositiveauthority,butappearto have beenputtogetherwithaview topracticaluse,oratleast topreservethememoryofthingswhich had beeninpractice,andwhichthewriterhopedto seeinpractice again. Perhapsourmostimportantwitness,of this kindisthe tractorcustumalcalled'Rectitudinessingularumpersonarum.'Someof the so-calledawsaremerelysemi-officialorprivatecom-pilations,buttheirformalprofessionofanauthoritytheyreallyhad notmakes nodifference o theirvalueas evidenceof whatthecompilersunderstoodthecustomarylawto havebeen. Tosomeextent wecancheck thembytheirrepetitionof matterthatoccursingenuine Anglo-Saxonlaws ofearlierdates.Apocryphaldocu-ments ofthis kindarebynomeans confined toEngland,nor,inEnglishhistory,to theperiodbeforeheConquest.Someexamplesfromthe thirteenthcenturyhavefoundtheirwayinto theworship-fulcompanyof theStatutesoftheRealmamongthe'statutesofuncertaintime.' Ithas beentheworkofmorethanonegenera-tionofscholarstodetecttheirtruecharacter,norindeedistheworkyetwhollydone. Fromtheexistence andapparent,some-timesreal,importanceofsuchwritingsandcompilationsaswehavenowmentionedtherehas arisen theestablishedusageofin-cludingthem,togetherwithgenuinelegislation,under thecommonheadingof'Anglo-Saxonlaws.'Asforthedeliberatefablesoflaterapocryphalauthorities,the'Mirror ofJustices'beingthechiefandflagrantexample,they belongnottotheAnglo-Saxonbutto themedievalperiodofEnglishlaw.Wehavenotnowtoinquirewhat theirworth,discreetlyassayed, maybefortheirownperiod.Anotherkindofcontemporarywritingsaffordsus mostvaluableevidence forthelimitedfieldoflaw andusagewhichthosewritingscover. Thefield,however,s evenmorelimitedthan atfirstsightitappearstobe.Wemeanthechartersor'land-books' whichrecordthemunificence fprincestoreligioushousesortotheirownfollowers,or insomecasestheadministrationanddispositionofdomainsthusacquired.Alongwiththesewehave toreckontheextantAnglo-Saxonwills,fewinnumberascomparedwithchartersproperlysocalled,but ofcapitalimportancenfixingandillustra-tingsomepoints.ItwasKemble'sgreatachievementtomake theway plaintotheappreciationanduseofthisclassofevidencesbyhis'CodexDiplomaticus.'Weshallhavetoexpress opinionsmoreorlesswidelydifferentromKemble'sonseveralmatters,andthere-forethinkitwelltosayatoncethatnoone whohas feltthe differ-encebetweengeniusandindustriousgoodintentionscan everdifferwithKemblelightlyorwithoutregret.Kemble'sworkoftenrequirescorrection;but ifKemble'sworkhadnotbeen,therewouldbenothingtocorrect.ThenwehaveincidentalnoticesofAnglo-Saxonlegalmatters 16Vol.8 1898241
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks
SAVE OUR EARTH

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!

x