history of england_david hume

History of england_david hume

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Unformatted text preview: f he killed him, he paid a fine to the king; provided the slave died within a day after the wound or blow: Otherwise it passed unpunishedr . The selling of themselves or children to slavery was always the practice among the German nations,s and was continued by the AngloSaxons.t The great lords and abbots among the Anglo-Saxons possessed a criminal jurisdiction within their territories and could punish without appeal any thieves or robbers whom they caught there.u This institution must have had a very contrary effect to that which was intended, and must have procured robbers a sure protection on the lands of such noblemen as did not sincerely mean to discourage crimes and violence. But though the general strain of the Anglo-Saxon government Courts of justice. seems to have become aristocratical, there were still considerable remains of the ancient democracy, which were not indeed sufficient to protect the lowest of the people, without the patronage of some great lord, but might give security, and even some degree of dignity, to the gentry or inferior nobility. The administration of justice, in particular, by the courts of the Decennary, the Hundred, and the County, was well calculated to defend general liberty, and to restrain the power of the nobles. In the county courts or shiremotes, all the freeholders were assembled twice a-year, and received appeals from the inferior courts. They there decided all causes, ecclesiastical as well as civil; and the bishop, together with the alderman or earl, presided over them.w The affair was determined in a summary manner, without much pleading, formality, or delay, by a majority of voices; and the bishop and alderman had no further authority than to keep order among the freeholders, and interpose with their opinion.x Where justice was denied during three sessions by the Hundred, and then by the County court, there lay an appeal to the king’s court;y but this was not practised on slight occasions. The aldermen received a third of the fines levied in those courts;z and as most of the punishments were then pecuniary, this perquisite formed a considerable part of the profits belonging to his office. The two thirds also, which went to the king, made no contemptible part of the public revenue. Any freeholder was fined who absented himself thrice from these courts.a PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 128 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 As the extreme ignorance of the age made deeds and writings very rare, the County or Hundred court was the place where the most remarkable civil transactions were finished, in order to preserve the memory of them, and prevent all future disputes. Here testaments were promulgated, slaves manumitted, bargains of sale concluded; and sometimes, for greater security, the most considerable of these deeds were inserted in the blank leaves of the parish Bible, which thus became a kind of register, too sacred to be falsified. It was not unusual to add to the deed an imprecation on all such as s...
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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 .

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