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Unformatted text preview: that military and turbulent people, so averse to commerce and the arts, and so little enured to industry, justice was commonly very ill administered, and great oppression and violence seem to have prevailed. These disorders would be encreased by the exorbitant power of the aristocracy, and would, in their turn, contribute to encrease it. Men, not daring to rely on the guardianship of the laws, were obliged to devote themselves to the service of some chieftain, whose orders they followed even to the disturbance of the government or the injury of their fellow-citizens, and who afforded them in return protection from any insult or injustice by strangers. Hence we find, by the extracts which Dr. Brady has given us from Domesday, that almost all the inhabitants even of towns, had placed themselves under the clientship of some particular nobleman, whose patronage they purchased by annual payments, and whom they were obliged to consider as their sovereign, more than the king himself, or even the legislature.a A client, though a freeman, was supposed so much to belong to his patron, that his murderer was obliged by law to pay a fine to the latter, as a compensation for his loss; in like manner as he paid a fine to the master for the murder of his slave.b Men, who were of a more considerable rank, but not powerful enough, each to support himself by his own independant authority, entered into formal confederacies with each other, and composed a kind of separate community, which rendered itself formidable to all aggressors. Dr. Hickes has preserved a curious Saxon bond of this kind, which he calls a Sodalitium, and which contains many particulars characteristical of the manners and customs of the times.c All the associates are there said to be gentlemen of Cambridgeshire; and they swear before the holy reliques to observe their confederacy, and to be faithful to each other: They promise to bury any of the associates who dies, in whatever place he had appointed; to contribute to his funeral charges; and to attend at his interment; and whoever is wanting in this last duty, binds himself to pay a measure of honey. When any of the associates is in danger, and calls for the assistance of his fellows, they promise, besides flying to his succour, to give information to the sheriff; and if he be negligent in protecting the person exposed to danger, they engage to levy a fine of one pound upon him: If the president of the society himself be wanting in this particular, he binds himself to pay one pound; unless he has the reasonable excuse of sickness, or of duty to his superior. When any of the associates is murdered, they are to exact eight pounds from the murderer; and if he refuse to pay it, they are to prosecute him for the sum at their joint expence. If any of the associates, who happens to be poor, kill a man, the society are to contribute by a certain proportion to pay his fine. A mark a piece, if the fine be 700 shillings; less if the person killed be a clown or ceorle; the half of that sum, again, if he be a Welshman. But where any of the associates kills a man,...
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This note was uploaded on 02/12/2011 for the course CHIN 101 taught by Professor Dr.yu during the Spring '08 term at University Of Southern Mississippi .
- Spring '08