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Unformatted text preview: wilfully and without provocation, he must himself pay the fine. If any of the associates kill any of his fellows, in a like criminal manner, besides paying the usual fine to the relations of the deceased, he must pay eight pounds to the society, or renounce the benefit of it: In which case they bind themselves, under the penalty of one pound, never to eat or drink with him, except in the presence of the king, bishop, or alderman. There are other regulations to protect themselves and their servants from all injuries, to revenge such as are committed, and to prevent their giving abusive language to each other; and the fine, which they engage to pay for this last offence, is a measure of honey. It is not to be doubted, but a confederacy of this kind must have been a great source of friendship and attachment; when men lived in perpetual danger from enemies, PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 125 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 robbers, and oppressors, and received protection chiefly from their personal valour, and from the assistance of their friends or patrons. As animosities were then more violent, connexions were also more intimate, whether voluntary or derived from blood: The most remote degree of propinquity was regarded: An indelible memory of benefits was preserved: Severe vengeance was taken for injuries, both from a point of honour, and as the best means of future security: And the civil union being weak, many private engagements were contracted, in order to supply its place, and to procure men that safety, which the laws and their own innocence were not alone able to insure to them. On the whole, notwithstanding the seeming liberty or rather licentiousness of the Anglo-Saxons, the great body even of the free citizens, in those ages, really enjoyed much less true liberty, than where the execution of the laws is the most severe, and where subjects are reduced to the strictest subordination and dependance on the civil magistrate. The reason is derived from the excess itself of that liberty. Men must guard themselves at any price against insults and injuries; and where they receive not protection from the laws and magistrate, they will seek it by submission to superiors, and by herding in some private confederacy, which acts under the direction of a powerful leader. And thus all anarchy is the immediate cause of tyranny, if not over the state, at least over many of the individuals. Security was provided by the Saxon laws to all members of the Wittenagemot, both in going and returning, except they were notorious thieves and robbers. The German Saxons, as the other nations of that continent, were divided into three ranks of men, the noble, the free, and the slaves.d This distinction they brought over with them into Britain.
The several orders of men. The nobles were called thanes; and were of two kinds, the king’s thanes and lesser thanes. The latter seem to have been dependant on the former; and to have received lands, for which they paid rent, services, or attendance in peace and war.e We know of no ti...
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