Skip to main content

Full text of "The Saxons in England; a history of the English commonwealth till the period of the Norman conquest"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 











" Nobilis et »trenuA, iux:«que dotcm naturae sagBciMima ftm% Sazonum, ab antiquis etiam 

ampt<»ibitt mrmonta." 






yj ' 















The follo¥ring pages contain an account of the 
principles upon which the public and political life 
of our Anglosaxon forefathers was based, and of 
the institutions in which those principles were most 
clearly manifested. The subject is a grave and 
solemn one : it is the history of the childhood of 
our own age, — the explanation of its manhood. 

On every side of us thrones totter, and the deep 
foundations of society are convulsed. Shot and 
shell sweep the streets of capitals which have long 
been pointed out as the chosen abodes of order : 
cavalry and bayonets cannot control populations 
whose loyalty has become a proverb here, whose 
peace has been made a reproach to our own mis- 
called disquiet. Yet the exalted Lady who wields 
the sceptre of these realms, sits safe upon her 
throne, and fearless in the holy circle of her do- 
mestic happiness, secure in the affections of a peo- 
ple whose institutions have given to them all the 
blessings of an equal law. 

Those institutions they have inherited from a 
period so distant as to excite our admiration, and 
have preserved amidst all vicissitudes with an en- 

vi • PREFACE. 

lightened will that must command our gratitude. 
And with the blessing of the Almighty, they will 
long continue to preserve them ; for our customs 
are founded upon right and justice, and are main- 
tained in a subjection to His will who hath the 
hearts of nations as well as of kings in His rule 
and governance. 

It cannot be without advantage for us to learn 
how a State so favoured as our own has set about 
the great work of constitution, and solved the 
problem, of uniting the completest obedience to 
the law with the greatest amount of individual free- 
dom. But in the long and chequered history of 
our State, there are many distinguishable periods: 
some more and some less well known to us. Among 
those with which we are least familiar is the oldest 
period. It seems therefore the duty of those whose 
studies have given them a mastery over its details, 
to place them as clearly as they can before the eyes 
of their fellow-citizens. 

There have never been wanting men who en- 
joyed a distinct insight into the value of our 
earliest constitutional history. From the days of 
Spelman, and Selden and Twisden, even to our 
own, this country has seen an unbroken succession 
of laborious thinkers, who, careless of self-sacrifice, 
have devoted themselves to record the facts which 
were to be recovered from the darkness of the past, 
and to connect them with the progress of our poli- 
tical and municipal laws. But peculiar advantages 
over these men, to whom this country owes a large 
debt of gratitude, are now enjoyed by ourselves. 


It is only within eight years that the *' Ancient 
Laws and Ecclesiastical Institutes " of the Anglo- 
saxons have been made fully accessible to us^: 
within nine years only, upwards of fourteen hun- 
dred documents containing the grants of kings 
and bishops, the settlements of private persons, the 
conventions of landlords and tenants, the technical 
forms of judicial proceedings, have been placed in 
our hands^ ; and to this last quarter of a century 
has it been given to attain a mastery never before 
attained over the language which our Anglosaxon 
ancestors spoke. To us therefore it more particu- 
larly belongs to perform the duty of illustrating 
that period, whose records are furnished to us so 
much more abundantly than they were to our pre- 
decessors ; and it seemed to me that this duty was 
especially imposed upon him whom circumstances 
had made most familiar with the charters of the 

The history of our earliest institutions has come 
down to us in a fragmentary form : in a similar way 

' Ancient Laws and Institutes of England; comprising Laws en- 
acted under the Anglosaxon Kings from uE'Selbirht to Cnut, with an 
English translation of the Saxon : the Laws called Edward the Con- 
fessor's ; the Laws of William the Conqueror, and those ascribed to 
Henry the First ; also Monumenta Ecclesiastica Anglicana, from the 
seventh to the tenth century: and the ancient Latin version of the 
Anglosaxon Laws. With a copious Glossary, etc. (By B. Thorpe, Esq.). 
Printed by command of his late Majesty, Ring William the Fourth, 
under the direction of the Commissioners on the Public Records of the 
Kingdom, mdcccxl. 

' Codex Diplomaticus Aevi Saxonici. Opera J. M. Kemble, M.A., 
vol. i. London, 1839 ; vol. ii. 1840; vol. iii. 1845 ; vol. iv. 1846; vol. v. 
1847; vol. vi. 1848. Published by authority of the Historical Society 
of England. 


viii . PREFACE. 

has it here been treated, — in chapters, or rather 
essays, devoted to each particular principle or group 
of facts. But throughout these fragments a system 
is distinctly discernible : accordingly the chapters 
\\'ill be found also to follow a systematic plan. 

It is my intention, at a future period, to lay 
befoix^ mv countrymen the continuation of this 
History, embracing the laws of descent and pur- 
chase, the law of contracts, the forms of judicial 
priKVSs, the family relations, and the social con- 
dition of the Saxons as to agriculture, commerce, 
art, science and literature. I believe these things 
to be worthy of investiscation, from their bearins: 
upon the times in which we live, much more than 
from any antiquarian value they may be supposed 
to |>assess. We have a share in the past, and the 
past yet works in us ; nor can a patriotic citizen 
belter ser>'e his country* than bv devotinsr his ener- 
^ies anvl his time to record that which is sreat 

and glorious in her historw for the admiration and 

^> • 

instruction of her neighbours. 

J. M. K. 


VOL. I. 




Chapter Page 

I. Saxon and Welsh Traditions 1 

II. The Mark 35 

III. TheGdorSeir 72 

lY. Landed Possession. The EiSel^ Hid or Alod . 88 

V. Personal Rank. The Freeman. The Noble . 122 

VI. The King 137 

VII. The Noble by Service 162 

VIII. TheUnfree. The Serf 185 

IX. The Mutual Guarantee. Msegburh. Tithing. 

Hundred 228 

X. P8§h«e. Wergyld 267 

XI. Folcland. Bocland. Ls^nland 289 

XII. Heathendom 327 


A. Marks 449 

B. The Hid 487 

C. Manumission of Serfi^ 496 

D. Orcy^s Guild at Abbotsbury 511 

E. L^land 517 

F. Heathendom 523 








Eleven centuries ago, an industrious and consci- 
entious historian, desiring to give a record of the 
establishment of his forefathers in this island, could 
find no fuller or better account than this : * ' About 
the year of Grace 445-446, the British inhabitants 
of England, deserted by the Roman masters who 
had enervated while they protected them, and ex- 
posed to the ravages of Picts and Scots from the 
extreme and barbarous portions of the island, called 
in the assistance of heathen Saxons from the conti- 
nent of Europe. The strangers faithfully performed 
their task, and chastised the Northern invaders; 
then, in scorn of the weakness of their employers, 
subjected them in turn to the yoke, and after vari- 
ous vicissitudes of fortune, established their own 

VOL. I. B 

U THE «^AXO^> IN I^^GLaM* [book i. 

power upon the ruins oi Bomaii and British dri- 
lizatioD." The few details which had reached the 
historian taught that the stransers were under the 
guidance of two brothers, Hen^est and Hors : that 
their armament was convej-ed in three ships or 
keels : tliat it consisted of Jut^, Saxons and An- 
gles : that their successes stimulated similar ad- 
venturers among their countrymen: and that in 
process of time their continued migrations were so 
lari^e and numerous, as to have reduced Anglia, 
their original home, to a desert'. 

Such was the tale of the victorious Saxons in the 
eighth century : at a later period, the vanquished 
Britons found a melancholy satisfaction in adding 
details which might brand the career of their con- 
querors with the stain of disloyalty. According to 
these hostile authorities, treachery and fraud pre- 
pared and consolidated the Saxon triumph. The 
wiles of Hengest's beautiful daughter' subdued the 
mind of the British ruler ; a murderous violation 
of the rights of hospitality, which cut oflF the chief- 
tains of the Britons at the very table of their hosts, 
delivered over the defenceless land to the barba- 
rous invader^ ; and the miraculous intervention of 

> BeiU, Hist. £ccl. i. 14, 15. Gildas, Hist. § 14. Nennius, Hist. § 38. 

^ It ia uncertain from the MSS. whether this lady is to be called 
Rouwen or Ronwen. The usual Engtish tradition gives her name as 
Rowena ; if this be accurate, I presume oiu- pagan forefathers knew 
something of a divine personage — Ur6"5wen — possibly a dialectical 
form of th*: great and glorious goddess Hre'Se ; for whom refer to Chap- 
ter X. of thin B<xjk. 

' Th«r <tory of the treacherous murder perpetrated upon the Wekh 
ehw^fuin* fli)*r3i not claim an Enghsh origin. It is related of the Old- 
taiijfut nj^rm th«^ crmtinrnt, in connexion with the conquest of the 
Thunn^na. i^r.t. Widukind. 


Germanus, the spells of Merlin and the prowess 
of Arthur, or the victorious career of Aurelius Am- 
brosius, although they delayed and in part avenged, 
yet could not prevent the downfal of their people'. 
Meagre indeed are the accounts which thus satis- 
fied the most enquiring of our forefathers ; yet such 
as they are, they were received as the undoubted 
truth, and appealed to in later periods as the earliest 
authentic record of our race. The acuter criticism of 
an age less prone to believe, raore skilful in the ap- 
preciation of evidence, and familiar with (he fleeting 
forms of mythical and epical thought, sees in them 
only a confused mass of traditions borrowed from 
the most heterogeneous sources, compacted rudely 
and with httle ingenuity, and in which the smallest 
poesihle amount of historical truth is involved in a 
great deal of fable. Yet the truth which such tra- 
ditions do nevertheless contain, yields to the al- 
chemy of our days a golden harvest : if we cannot 
undoubtingly accept the details of such legends, 
they still point out to us at least the course we 
must pursue to discover the elements of fact upon 
which the Mythus and Epos rest, and guide ua to 
the period and the locality where these took root 
and flourished. 

From times beyond the records of history, it ia 
certain that continual changes were taking place in 
the position and condition of the various tribes that 
peopled the northern districts of Europe. Into this 
great basin the successive waves of Keltic, Teutonic 

' Conf. Nenniui. Hist. 37 >eq.4 
GOdaa, Hilt. « 25. 

Beds. Hint. Ecc. i. 14. 15. 



and Slavonic migrations were poured, and here, 
through hundreds of years, were probably reproduced 
convulsions, terminated only by the great outbreak 
which the Germans call the wandering of the nations. 
For successive generations, the tribes, or even por- 
tions of tribes, may have moved from place to 
place, as the necessities of their circumstances de- 
manded ; names may have appeared, and vanished 
altogether from the scene ; wars, seditions, con- 
quests, the rise and fall of states, the solemn forma- 
tion or dissolution of confederacies, may have filled 
the ages which intervened between the first settle- 
ment of the Teutons in Germany, and their appear- 
ance in history as dangerous to the quiet of Rome. 
The heroic lays' may possibly preserve some sha- 
dowy traces of these events ; but of all the changes 
in detail we know nothing: we argue only that 
nations possessing in so preeminent a degree as 
the Germans, the principles, the arts and institu- 
tions of civilization, must have passed through a 
long apprenticeship of action and suffering, and 
have learnt in the rough school of practice the 
wisdom they embodied in their lives. 

Possessing no written annals, and trusting to the 

' The AngloHixon Traveller's Song contains a multitude of namet 
which cnimot be found elsewhere. PruIus Diaconus, ami Jomande* 
have evidently used ancient poema as the founilation of their hiatoriei. 
The layi of the vorioui GenuBuic cycles Btill furnish details respecting 
Hermanaric, Otachar, Thcodoric, Hiltibraat and other heroes of thii 
troubled period. But the reader who would judge of the fragmentuj 
and unsatisfactory result of all that the ancient world has recorded of 
the new, had hetter conxiilt that most remarkable work of Zcusa, Die 
Deutichcn und die Nachbarstamme. Munich, 1837- He will there sm 
how the profoundest science halts afler the reality of ancient ages, and 
■trivei in vain to reduce their manifold falsehood fo a truth. 




poet the task of the historian, our forefathers have 
left but scanty records of their early condition'. 
Nor did the supercilious or unsuspecting ignorance 
of Italy care to enquire into the mode of life and 
habits of the barbarians, until their strong arms 
threatened the civihzation and the very existence 
of the enapire itself. Then first, dimly through the 
twilight in which the sun of Rome was to set for 
ever, loomed the Colossus of the German race, 
gigantic, terrible, inexpHcabte ; and the vague at- 
tempt to deSne its awful features came too late to 
be fully successful. In Tacitus, the city possessed 
indeed a thinker worthy of the exalted theme ; but 
bis sketch, though vigorous beyond expectation, is 
incomplete in many of the most material points : 
yet this is the most detailed and fullest account 
which we possess, and nearly the only certain 
source of information till we arrive at the moment 
when the invading tribes in every portion of the 
empire entered upon their great task of recon- 
structing society from its foundations. Slowly, 
from point to point, and from time to time, traces 
are recognized of powerful struggles, of national 
movements, of destructive revolutions r but the 
definite facts which emerge from the darkness of 
the first three centuries, are rare and fragmentary. 

Let us confine our attention to that portion of 
the race which settled on our own shores. 

The testimony of contemporaneous history as- 
sures us that about the middle of the fifth century. 

u Bjiucl illoa 


m considerable movemeot took place among the 
tribes that inhabited the western coasts of Ger- 
DEianv and the islands ot* the Baltic sea. Pressed 
at hocne bv the incursions ot* restless nei^bonrs, 
and the ur^ncv ot increasing population, or yield- 
ing to the unirersad spirit ot adventure, Ai^es, 
Saxoas and Frisians crossed a little-kiiown and 
iian£enxKS ocean to seek new settlemoits in ad- 
jacent UjG<d:s^ Familiar as we are with daring deeds 
of mahtL^Sfe e=.:eqpcbse« who hare seen our dag doat 
orer ererr sea. aixl d'Jtter in ex^^r biecze that 
sweeps over the s;3riace ot the earth, we cuidoI 
ccfLtemjdiXe witixyat astonishment ax>d adminlioo, 
tlie&e bardr sailors swarmii^ om ereiy point, tra- 
rernng erery oceas. sweeping e^^enr jes^Bair and 
Vay. and lax>ditig cm erenr sbose whidi pramiaeid 
phoider or a teanpararr res^ trocD tbedr t&tigDes. 
H>e wealth of Gaul had abejidr axtraded fearfol 
Ti^tation^^. and the ^kuIs oa Roman cukix-ation had 
heen displayed liefore the wondering liordepere of 
the Elhe and Eyder. the prize of paso, and incen- 
tive X-c future actiriri'. Britain, fertiye and defence- 
less, ahonndim: in the accumulations of a lone 
career en peace, deserted by its ancient lords^. un- 
accustomed to arms - , and accustomed to the ydke. 

Tnv^ » sMPTtPT "hott. h\ GUiIk^ uii: Nonnins. «m^ i: K' hot it itadf 
imrimTiiitMle Tn* Raman*' Au: itrnnMimcis uttcmni u- (h«aaii. tbt ntt- 
tiom tne^ «ohdar«(i thD> lV»hiJ< wit I. tht AI«nMimi V«|»«c. c«ji. 1-1. 
Wiim^hori-'i' amcwm: o: «if lirtenroir^ hxmu o: Britur. wfc^ im^mbhr 
Bir exusi^fT9Xr*\ Ht iwy> ** Its. nm. r>T«Tm: nnliuir. n: mpr^ fi meiei 
lirwrhiLrcK. nulhnL n. urhirws priwnrr veiur: drditns rrhqiiwwnu Bh- 
init onm. pfttrocrou- 1uvraU1^ vi^ron^ t'uhintK. omn. cxpmtic aitnmi 
emymitfc. rmttinniiuiniir irfntiim. rnhifinon-. tim nhnoxK fun " Gen. 

lUe til. , •: L 



at once invited attack aod held out the prospect of 
a rich reward : and it is certain that at that period, 
there took place some extensive migration of Ger- 
mans to the shores of England'. The expeditions 
known to tradition as those of Hengest, ^Ih, Cissa, 
Cerdic and Port, may therefore have some foun- 
dation in fact; and around this meagre nucleus of 
truth were grouped the legends which afterwards 
served to conceal the poverty and eke out the 
scanty stock of early history. But J do not think 
it at all probahle that this was the earliest period 
at which the Germans formed settlements in Eng- 

It is natural to helieve that for many centuries 
a considerable and active intercourse had prevailed 
between the southern and eastern shores of this 
island, and the western districts of Gaul. The first 
landing of Julius Caesar was caused or justified by 
the assurance that his Gallic enemies recruited their 
armies and repaired their losses, by the aid of their 
British kinsmen and allies^ ; and the merchants of 
the coast, who found a market in Britain, reluc- 
tantly furnished him with the information upon 
which the plan of his invasion was founded*. When 

' Prosper Tyro, a.d, 441, says, "Tlieodoaii xviii. BriUnniBe usque 
ad hoc lempuH vorita cladifaua ercDtibusque laCae [7 laccrtitac] in (li- 
tionem Sasouum redigiintur." See also Proi'Op. Bel. Got. iv. 20. Tlie 
former of these passBges might bo?fever be understood Hithout tbe as- 
nunption of an immigration, which the movements of Attila render 

' BeU. GaU. iii. 8. 9; iv. 20. 

• Especially the Veneti; tToifioi yip firrav KuXifuiTov ilt t^v ffptr- 
Tanrqir irXovr, j(pJintinK r^ iianpUf, Strabo, bk. iv. p. 271. Conf. BeU. 
Can. iv. 20. 



the fortUDe and the arms of Rome had prevailed 
over her ill-disciplined antagonists, and both con- 
tiaent and island were subject to the same all-em- 
bracing rule, it is highly probable that the ancient 
bonds were renewed, and that the most familiar 
intercourse continued to prevail. In the time of 
Slrabo the products of the island, corn, cattle, gold, 
silver and iron, skins, slaves, and a large descrip- 
tion of dog, were exported by the natives, no doubt 
principally to the neighbouring coasts, and their 
commerce with these was sufficient to justify the 
imposition of an export and import duty'. As early 
as the time of Nero, London, though not a colony, 
was remarkable as a mercantile station^, and in alt 
human probability was the great mart of the Gauls.; 
There cannot be the least doubt that an active com- 
munication was maintained throughout by the Kel- 
tic nations on the different sides of the channel ; 
and similarly, as German tribes gradually advanced 
along the lines of the Elbe, the Weser, the Maes 
and the Rhine, occupying the countries which lie 
upon the banks of those rivers, and between them 
and the sea, it is reasonable to suppose that some 
offsets of their great migrations reached the oppo- 
site shores of England^. As early as the second 


' Book iv. p. 279. • Tacit. Ann. xiv. 33. 

' Caesar noticeii the migrations of continental tribes to Britain : he 
uyR, " Brilaimiat; {lai^ interior ah us incolitur, quos natoa in innda 
ipga memoria proditum dieunt ; maritima pan all iis qui praeilae me 
belli inferendi causa ex Belgis traniiierant ; qui omnes fere iis nomini- 
bus civitatutn adpetUntur, quibus orti ex eivitatibun eo pcrvenemnt, et 
bello inlato ibi remBmenuit, atque agros colere coepeniat." Bell. Ciall. 

,, I.] 


century, Chauci are mentioned among the inhabit- 
ants of the south-east of Ireland', and although we 
have only the name whereby to identify them with 
the great Saxon tribe, yet this deserves considera- 
tion when compared with the indisputably Keltic 
names of the surrounding races. The Coritavi, who 
occupied the present counties of Lincoln, Leicester, 
Rutland, Northampton, Nottingham and Derby, 
were Germans, according to the Welsh tradition 
itself', and the next following name KarvevyXayol, 
though not certainly German, bears a strong re- 
Bembiance to many German formations^. 

Without, however, laying more stress upon these 
facts than they will fairly warrant, let us proceed 
to other considerations which render it probable 
that a large admixture of German tribes was found 

' Ptolemy, bk. ii. c. 2, It is true tbat Ptolemy calU them KauKot, 
but tbu mode of spelbug U not unexampled, &nd is found in even lo 
correct a nrtter as Strabo, Tlie proper form is Kai)(ot. Latin authors 
occasionally write Cauci for Chauci, and sometimes even Cauchi : tee 
Zeuss, Die Deutachen und die Nachbarstamme, p, 138. It is rigbl to 
add tbat Zcuss, whose opinion on such a point is entitled to the highest 
eonsideratioD, hesitates to include theac Kavtoi among Germanic tribes 
(p. 199). The ttarainoi, placed also by Ptolemy in IrelsDil, can hardly 
be Germans. 

' Ptolemy, bk. ii. c. 3, /tfff oCt Kopirouol. tr o'l nnktic \iv8oi: jiar/t' 
tlra KortuvxXaw)!, iv alt iroAdt ira\^*ac [al. arAtniai.'] OlpoKoinav. 
Others have preferred the form KopiTavol, but the authority of the best 
manuscripts, not less than the analog of the names Ingaevones, Iscae- 
rones, Chamavi, Batavi. confirroa the earlier reading. According to the 
Triads, these Coritavi (Corinisidd) had migrated from a Teutonic marsh- 
lirnd. Thorpe's LAppeiiberg, i. 15. The word is thus in all probability 
r'trived from Flor, tulum, Horibt, laiotia; eijuivalent to the "oquosa 
Ffcionum arva." Vit. Sci. Sturm. Perti. ii. 372. " Saxones, gentem 
oceani. in UtMnbus et paludihua inviis litam." Oos, lii. 33. 

' Chatuarii, HeaSobeardan. HealSorsmes. However Catu is a ge- 
nuine British prefix . 


ID Eoglaod loDg prevjoas to the middle of the fifth 
century. It appears to me that the presence of 
Rotnao emperors recruiting the forces with which 
the throne of the world was to be disputed, from 
among the hardiest populations of the contioeot, 
must not only have led to the settlement of Teu- 
tonic families in this island, but also to the main- 
teoaoce, od their part, of a steady intercourse with 
their kinsmen who remained behind. The military 
colony, moreover, which claimed to be settled upon 
good arable land, formed the easiest and most ad- 
vantageous mode of pensioning the emeriti; and 
many a successful Caesar may have felt that his 
own safety was better secured by portioning bis Ger- 
man veterans in the fruitful valleys of England, 
than by settling them as doubtful garrisons in 
Lombardy or Campania. 

The fertile fields which long before had merited 
the praises of the first Roman victor, must have of- 
fered attractions enough to induce wandering Sax- 
ons and Angles to desert the marshes and islands 
of the Elbe, and to call Frisian adventurers over 
from the sands and salt-pools of their home. If in 
the middle of the fifth century Saxons had esta- 
blished regular settlements at Bayeux' ; if even 
before this time the country about Grannona bore 
the name of Littus Saxonicum', we may easily be- 


' Sutone* Buocauini. Greg. Turon. t. 3/ ; i. 9. 

' Orannona in littore Saxonico. Notit. Imp. Opciil. c. 86. Dn 
Cheane Hi«t. t. p. .t. The T6tinga«, who h«ve left their naine to Toot- 
ing in Surrey, are rcnirdcil alio at T6tiiigali±ni in th« county of Bou- 
logne, Leo, Reetitiid. p. 26. 


lieve that at still earlier periods other Saxons had 
found over the intervening ocean a way less dan- 
gerous and tedious than a march through the ter- 
ritories of jealous or hostile neighbours, or even 
than a coasting voyage along barbarous shores 
defended by a yet more barbarous population. A 
north-east wind would, almost without effort of 
their own, have carried their ships from Helgoland 
and the islands of the Elbe, or from Silt and Rom- 
Bey', to the Wash and the coast of Norfolk. There 
seems then every probahility that bodies more or 
less numerous, of coast-Germans, perhaps actually 
of Saxons and Angles, had colonized the eastern 
shores of England long before the time generally 
assumed for their advent*. The very exigencies of 
military service had rendered this island familiar 
to the nations of the continent: Batavi, under their 
own national chieftains, had earned a share of the 
Roman glory, and why not of the Roman land, in 

' Ptolemy cbUb the islmiils at the mouth of the Elbe, 2a^vav i^imi 
rpiit. ZcuBs considen these to be Fiihr, Silt uticl Nnrdstrand. Die 
DeatKhen, p. 150. Lappeiiberg sees in them, North Frieilanil, £jder- 
■tedt, Norditrand, Wickinghardc and Bijcinghftrde. Thorpe, Lap. i. 
07- It seemR harillj coneelvable that Fmiuis, who ixTcupied the cout 
u e«rly u the time of Caesar, should Dot have found their way by ie» 
to Britain, especially when pregseil by Roman power: see Tac. Ann. 

' Hengeat defeated the Picti and Scots al Stanifonl in LinFolnahire, 
not far from the Nenc, the Witham and the Wetland, upon nrhoac hanka 
it is Dearly eertain that there were German settlementa. Widukind'a 
itoiy of an einbaasy from the Britons to the Saxoiis, to entreat aid, is 
thus rendered not altogether improbable : but then it must be under- 
itood of Sasons already established in England, and on the very line of 
match of the Northern invaders, whom they thus took most cfDietually 
in flaok. Compare Geoffry's story of Vortigem givin)c Uengest lands 
in Lincolnshire, etc. 

19 THE 8AX0NS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

Britain * ? The policy of the Emperor Marcus An- 
toninus, at the successful close of the Marcomannic 
war, had transplanted to Britain multitudes of Grer- 
nmns, to serve at once as instruments of Roman 
power and as hostages for their countrymen on the 
frontier of the empire*. The remnants of this once 
powerful confederation cannot but have left long 
and lasting traces of their settlement among us ; nor 
can it be considereil at all improbable that Carau- 
aius, when in the year 287> he raised the standard of 
revolt in Britain > calculated upon the assistance of 
the Germans in this countrv> as well as that of their 
allien and brethren on the continent^. Nineteen 

HMX «MC<« (HNT ^«Muu*ia j|:Vxnik tmatmJBWw iUac cobaitibas» 
M^^Kir^' uik$uiul\x iM)MLU«siittu popukniuBL K^eebftiiK.'^ 

'^ IVk i^ML txvju lx\u. iubbook IVe. eap*. uu At a fater pciiod, 
lh^>2KM «Slk4 V«j»iU9L «aJl KUTfCttttJbBUw beK : Z^Mima^ tells m >. Hiat. 

w%ft,Y^*' ji r^» vif«r^>* >^•^)^Mrr«v^ «VruMiirr«rr<Vk" «iiru mxiT'^ rum 
c^wV«^ xuttsr%t*^iH, KhKV(HU» e««nt ^^ms a> &r » 09 make 

* C^ummos «ii2^ 4 )ietta(MiUi : but ji cbe ooifu i>ntcur7 cbe mbafaift- 
aitcs^ vM' ^ >LcttA(Naa u^mfiur^ wtn^ cvctauu^ reucuoic. .kunniiia Vxfior 
ciftkU bill! ;i l^tea^tau : i<« C»iiKKm» LVc. %.n4>. \ai. Cantoua^ ami after 
{bin -i^tx'iUA^ :tHiatfiauKa a VHrraiaut amt^: 'j«:n; : '* Otiiiii» tmim dlua» at 
auoh>« caut(M% ai^uii; «.vti«» :mo :iiM ttfcentiiioniiti iiMCitni vMcpuca 
te.vnruuc. Uia b«rW« .utc itsutacxoiie jarfMnae •nun ^ta 
pcvtUMi oniK mfiiaiina. muc v<rv muvt^n* <€ ^.'rttun: M«iaca» tfC 31 
M*' mUu^ vaL*«iw ^<«CHU iuivfvm ^*iiiK:rum :ut;rauc ^mvucv :aL-«it9n]it.. 

CMW«ftwu juuuuia 4«u%kui ^taw iuurtiut^ 'iivnd^ jiHaunu iiM 
jic«!rBcou yraw>XHiB. xi ih ^uo^ue tuilitt^ v^^i^dT, .^ 
btaMMft* iC ;M4iiio Miic iiAi, :B«r»' WMuucii ju jfypHium L« 
fMr««iKniac. luMaiuiu -^x ntffg* !na na ila ttuitiniuuw 
Ji> >U|wrniRcnii, .'uia iirvpca .'?v:fafiv. ttipuB .•a yo M Ht rr .'•iipcaRsr, 
tuca inik >iai«««nB&. * Suhkiiu ?%iK|p. .'osm. .up. 'is 't*. 


years later the death of Coastantius delivered the 
dignity of Caesar to his soo Constantioe : he was 
solemnly elected to that dignity in Britain, and 
among his supporters was Crocus, or as some read 
Erocus, an Alaraannic king who had accompanied 
his father from Germany'. Still later, under Va- 
lentinian, we find an auxiliary force of Alamanni 
serving with the Roman legions here. 

By chronological steps we have now approached 
the period at which was compiled the celebrated 
document entituled ' Notitia utriusque imperii'*. 
Even if we place this at the latest admissible date, 
it is still at least half a century earlier than the ear- 
liest date assigned to Hengest. Among the im- 
portant officers of state mentioned therein as admi- 
nistering the affairs of this island, is the Comes Lit- 
toris Saxonici per Britannias ; and his government, 
which extended from near the present site of Ports- 

' Aurel. Vict. cap. 4 1 . Lappenberg, referring to thin fact (Thorpe, i. 
A7),»*k». " Ma_v DOt theoame Erocun be a corruption of Ertorus, a La- 
tiniiatioii of tbe old-Saxon Ileritogo. dajct" I think not; for on A]b- 
tnan would have beco calleil by n bigh anil not low German uame, Ue- 
riiohho, not Hcritogo. I thinlc it much more hkely that his name wsi 
Chrobbo or Brfica, s rook. 

• Pancirolua would date this important record in a.d. 43S, Gibbon, 
however, refutes him and pkcCB it betweeD 395 and 40/. Dec. cap. 
XTii. I am inclined to tbink even tbiit date inaccurate, and tbat the 
Romana did not maintain any such great catablishment iu Britain, hi that 
herein described, Bt so late a period. For eveu Ammianua tells us ia 
364, " Hoc tempore Picti, Saxonesquc et Scotti et Attacotti Britannos 
•reramnia vexavere MintinuU," (Hist. sivi. 4), which ia hardly consis- 
tent with a flourishing state of tbe Roman civil and mibtary rule. The 
•rtual document we possess may possibly dnte from 390 or -100, but it 
refers to the arrangements of an earlier time, and to an organization of 
Boman power in more palmy days of tbeir dominion. 


mouth to Wells in Norfolk*, was supported by va- 
rious civil and military establishments, dispersed 
along the whole sea-board. The term Littus Sax- 
onicum has been explained to mean rather the coast 
visited by, or exposed to the ravages of, the Sax- 
ons, than the coast occupied by them : but against 
this loose system of philological and historical in- 
terpretation I beg emphatically to protest : it seems 
to have arisen merely from the uncritical spirit in 
which the Saxon and Welsh traditions have been 
adopted as ascertained facts, and from the impos- 
sibility of reconciling the account of Beda with the 
natural sense of the entry in the Notitia : but there 
seems no reason whatever for adopting an excep- 
tional rendering in this case, and as the Littus Sax- 
onicum on the mainland was that district in which 
members of the Saxon confederacy were settled, the 
Littus Saxonicum per Britannias unquestionably 
obtained its name from a similar circumstance'. 

^ The document itself may be consulted in Graevius, vol. vii. The 
"littus Saxonicum per Brittannias" extended at least from the Portui 
Adumi to Branodunum, that is, from the neighbourhood of Portsmouth 
to Branchester on the Wash. In both these places there were civil or 
military officers under the orders of the Comes littoris Saxonid. 

' Professor Leo, of Halle, has caUed attention to a remarkable re- 
semblance between the names of certain places in Kent, and settlements 
of the Alamanni upon the Neckar. A few of these, it must be admitted, 
are striking, but the majority are only such as might be expected to 
anse from similarities of surface and natural features in any two coun- 
tries settled by cognate populations, having nearly the same language, 
reUgious rites and civil institutions. Even if the fact be admitted in 
the fullest extent, it is still unnecessary to adopt Dr. Leo's hypothesis, 
that the coincidence is due to a double migration from the shores of 
the Elbe. Rectitud. sing, person, pp. 100-104. It has been already 


Thus far the object of this rapid sketch has been ] 
to show the improbability of our earliest records 
beiDg anything more than ill- understood and con- 
fused traditions, accepted without criticism by our 
first annalists, and to refute the opinion long enter- 
tained by our chroniclers, that the Germanic set- 
tlements in England really date from the middle of 
the fifth centurj'. The results at which we have 
arrived are far from unimportant ; indeed they seem 
to form the only possible basis upon which we can 
ground a consistent and intelligible account of the 
manner of the settlements themselves. And, be it 
remembered, that the evidence brought forward 
upon this point are the assertions of indifferent and 
impartial witnesses ; statesmen, soldiers, men of 
letters and philosophers, who merely recorded 
events of which they had full means of becoming 
cognizant, with no object in general save that of 
stating facts appertaining to the history of their 
empire. Moreover, the accounts they give are pro- 
bable in themselves and perfectly consistent with 
other well-ascertained facts of Roman history. Can 
the same praise be awarded to our own meagre 
national traditions, or to the fuller, detailed, but pal- 

aUted that Couataatius noa accampanictl to Britaiii by an AlBmaimic 
king; and 1 caiuiot iloubt tbat iinder Valentin ion, a force of Alamanni 

iervod in thi» poiintry. Aminiaiius aays ; " Valentinianus in Mn- 

criani locum. Bucinobautibus, quae contra Moguntincum gem est Ala- 
manna, regem Fraomarium ordinavit : queni paullo postea, quoniam 
tecena excuriuH eundem peoitus vaatavcrst pagiim, in Britsnnos trans- 
latum potentate tribimi, Alamannorum praefecerat nuinero, multitudine, 
Tiribusqiie ea tetnpcstate florenti." Hiat. xxis. c. 4. The context 
renden it impossible tbat this " Dumerua Alamannontin " ahould bava 
been aaything but genuine Germani. 



pably uDcritical assertions of our conquered neigh- 
bours? 1 confess that the more I examine this 
question, the more completely 1 am convinced that 
the received accounts of our migrations, our subse- 
quent fortunes, and ultimate settlement, are devoid 
of historical truth in every detail. 

It strikes the enquirer at once with suspicion 
when he finds the tales supposed peculiar to his 
own race and to this island, shared by the Ger- 
manic populations of other lands, and with slight 
changes of locality, or trifling variations of detail, 
recorded as authentic parts of their history. The 
readiest belief in fortuitous resemblances and co- 
incidences gives way before a number of instances 
whose agreement defies all the calculation of 
chances. Thus, when we find Hengest and Hors 
approaching the coasts of Kent in three keels, and 
^lli effecting a landing in Sussex with the same 
number, we are reminded of the Gothic tradition 
which carries a migration of Ostrogoths, Visigoths 
and Gepidae, also in three vessels, to the mouths 
of the Vistula, certainly a spot where we do not 
readily look for that recurrence to a trinal calcula- 
tion, which so peculiarly characterizes the modes of 
thought of the Cymri. The murder of the British 
chieftains by Hengest is told totidem verbis by 
Widukind and others, of the Oldsaxons in Thurin- 
gia*. Geoffry of Monmouth relates also how Hen- 

* Widukind in Leibnitz, Rer. Bninsw. i. JS, 74 ; Repgow, Sachtenip. 
iii. 44, § 2. It 18 amusing enough to see how the number of ships 
increases as people began to feel the absurdity of bringing over con- 
quering annies in such very small flotillas. 

:«. ,.] 



gest obtained from the Britons as much land as 
could be enclosed by an ox-hide ; then, cutting the 
hide into thongs, enclosed a much larger space 
than the grantors intended, on which he erected 
Thong castle' — a tale too familiar to need illustra- 
tion, and which runs throughout the niytbus of 
many nations. Among the Oldsaxons the tradi- 
tion is in reahty the same, though recorded with 
a slight variety of detail. In their story, a lapfull 
of earth is purchased at a dear rate from aThurin- 
gian ; the companions of the Saxon jeer him for 
his imprudent bargain ; but he sows the purchased 
earth over a large space of ground, which he claims 
and, by the aid of his comrades, ultimately wrests 
from the Thuringians «. 

To the traditional bistorj-of the tribes peculiarly 
belong the genealogies of their kings, to which it 
will be necessary to refer hereafter in a mythological 
point of view. For the present it is enough that I 
call attention to the extraordinary tale of OfFa, 
who occurs at an early stage of the Mercian table, 
among the progenitors of the Mercian kings. This 
story, as we find it in Matthew Paris's detailed ac- 
count *, coincides in the minutest particulars with a 

' GiUf. Monum. TI. Brit. tI. 11. Thoug ca:9tle prubalily gave ft ttim 
to tLc itory here nhich the OliUnxon legend hod not. T]ie claMical 
Ule of Dido aiid BjTsa ia well known to every aelioolboy i tUgnar 
Lodbrog oilojited tlie iiiiiie artifice. R^. Lodb. Sagit. cap. 10, 20 : 
nay the Uiudoos declare that we ubtaiued poasi'ssion of Calnitta bj 

* Widuk. IB loc. eitat., also Grimm's Deutscle Sagen, No. 547, 3<>9. 
ud Deutsche Rechtsalt. p. 'JO, where seveml valunhle examplea nrc 
cited : it u remarkable how many of these arc Thui-inginn. 

' Vit. Offac Priroi, edited hy Watl;, 
VOL. I. C 


tale told by Saxo Grammaticus of a Danish prince 
bearing the same name^ 
/ The form itself in which details, which profess 
to be authentic, have been preserved, ought to se- 
cure us from falling into error. They are romantic, 
not historical ; and the romance has salient and 
characteristic points, not very reconcilable with the 
varietv which marks the authentic records of fact. 
For example, the details of a long and doubtful 
struggle between the Saxons and the Britons are 
obviously based upon no solid foundation ; the dates 
and the events are aUke traditional, — the usual and 
melancholy consolation of the vanquished. In pro- 
portion as we desert the older and apply to later 
sources of information, do we meet with success- 
ful wars, triumphant British chieftains, vanquished 
Saxons, heroes endowed with supernatural powers 
and blessed with supernatural luck. Gildas, Nen- 
nius and Beda mention but a few contests, and 
even these of a doubtful and suspicious character ; 
Geoffry of Monmouth and gossipers of his class 
on the contrary, are full of wondrous incidents by 
flood and field, of details calculated to flatter the 
pride or console the sorrow of Keltic auditors : the 
successes which those who lived in or near the 
times described, either pass over in modest silence 
or vaguely insinuate under sweeping generalities, 
are impudently related by this fabler and his copy- 
ists with every richness of narration. According to 
him the invaders are defeated in every part of the 

* Saxo Gramm. bk. iv. p. 59 seq. 


island, Day even expelled from it ; army after army 
is destroyed, chieftain after chieftain slain ; till he 
winds up his enormous tissue of fabrications with 
the defeat, the capture and execution of a hero 
whose very existence becomes problematical when 
tested by the severe principles of historical criti- 
cism, and who, according to the strict theory of 
our times, can hardly be otherwise than enrolled 
among the gods, through a godlike or half-godlike 

It is no doubt probable that the whole land 
was not subdued without some pains in different 
quarters ; that here and there a courageous leader 
or a favourable position may have enabled the 
aborigines to obtain even temporary successes over 
the invaders : the new immigrants were not likely 
to find land vacant for their occupation among 
their kinsmen who had long been settled here, 
though well-assured of their co-operation in any 

' Woden in the gentile fonn of a horse, Hengest, e^iiK^ admissariuSs 
the brother of Hors, and father of a hne in which names of horses form 
a distinguishing part of the ro^'al appellatives. It is hardly necessary 
to remind the classical reader of Poseidon in his favourite shape, 
the shape in which he contended "with Athene and mingled with 
Ceres. In these remarks on Geoffry and his sources, I do not mean to 
deny the obligation under which the reader of romance has been laid 
by him ; only to reject ever}'thing like historical authority. It is from 
the eountrymen of Geoffry that we have also gained the marvellous 
superstructure of imagination which has supplied the tales of that time, 
" when Charlemagne with all his peerage fell by Fontarabia," and which 
is recognised by history in the very short entry, " In quo proelio Eggi- 
hardus regiae mensae praepositus, Anselmus comes palatii, et Hruod- 
landus, Brittanici limitis praefectus, cum aliis compluribus interfi- 
ciuntur.'* Einhart. vit. Karol. § 9. Pertz, ii. 448. Let us be grateful 
for the Orlando Innamorato and Furioso, but not make history of 

C 2 


attempt to wrest new settlements from the British. 
But no authentic record remains of the slow and 
gradual progress that would have attended the con- 
quest of a brave and united people, nor is any such 
consistent with the accounts the British authors 
have left of the disorganized and disarmed condi- 
tion of the population. A skirmish, carried on by 
very small numbers on either side, seems generally 
to have decided the fate of a campaign. Steadily 
from east to west, from south to north, the sharp 
axes and lon:x swords of the Teutons hewed their 
way : wherever opposition was offered, it ended in 
the retreat of the aborisrines to the mountains, — 
fortresses whence it was impossible to dislodge 
them« and from which thev sometimes descended 
to attempt a hopeless effort for the liberty of their 
count r\' or revenge ujKm their oppressors. The 
ruder or more generous of their number mav have 

X. m 

jwrv'forred exile aiui ihe chances of emigration to 
subjecuon at hon:e^ : but the mass of the people, 
acv'ustomevl to Rom;in rule or the oppression of 
native priuv\rs^, pa>bably suffered little by a change 
oi master?, and aid little to avoid it. At even a 
later iN?rioJ au indiiuant bajrd could pour out his 
patrioiic rvproach^^s upon the Lc»e^riouis who had 

bKCirtrtt juii «>>*c«u:r«MU!iC» -« ju bouL X*ii:£ b«^:a xctliAi tile re. C«iaf. 
iiA:ii HM jn rum ^xaxmx:^ 


condescended to become Saxons. We learn that at 
first the condition of the British under the German 
rule was fair and easy, and only rendered harsher 
in punishment of their unsuccessful attempts at 
rebellion* ; (iMMKfae laws of Ini, a Westsaxon king, 
show that in the territories subject to his rule, and 
bordering upon the yet British lands, the Welsh- 
man occupied the place of a petioecian rather than 
a h^lote\f Nothing in fact is more common, or less 
true, than the exaggerated account of total exter- 
minations and miserable oppressions, in the tradi- 
tional literature of conquered nations ; and we may 
very safely appeal even to the personal appearance 
of the peasantry in many parts of England, as evi- 
dence how much Keltic blood was permitted to sub- 
sist and even to mingle with that of the ruling Ger- 
mans ; while the signatures to very early charters 
supply us with names assuredly not Teutonic, and 
therefore probably borne by persons of Keltic race, 
occupying positions of dignity at the courts of 
Anglosaxon kings^. 

^ " Quorum illi qui Northwallos, id est Aquilonalcs Britoncs diccban- 
tur, parti Westsaxonum regum obvenerant. Illi quondam consuctis 
servitiis seduli, diu nil asperum retulere, sed tunc rebellionem medi- 
tantes, Kentuuinus rex tarn anxia caede penlomuit, ut nihil ulteriua 
ftperarent. Quare et ultima malorum accessit captivis tributaria func- 
tio ; ut qui antea nee solam umbram palpabant libertatis, nunc iugum 
subiectionis palam ingemiscerent." Malmsb. vit. Aldh. Ang. Sac. ii. 14. 

' Leg. Ini, § 32, 33. 

' See a tract of the author's in the Proceedings of the Archaeological 
Institute, 1845, on Anglosaxon names. From some very interesting 
papers read by the Rev. R. Gamett before the Philological Society in 
1843, 1844, we learn that a considerable proportion of the words which 
denote the daily processes of agriculture, domestic life, and generally 
indoor and outdoor serrioe, are borrowed by us from the Keltic. 

;^^ THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

l*\vui what has preceded it will be inferred that 
X look ui>on the genuine details of the German 
Coai)uests in England as irrevocably lost to us. 
Si> extraordinary a success as the conquest of this 
island by bands of bold adventurers from the con- 
tinent, whose cognate tribes had already come into 
fatal collision with not only the Gallic provincials, 
but even the levies of the city itself*, could hardly 
have passed unnoticed by the historians of the em- 
pire : we have seen however that only Prosper Tyro 
and Procopius notice this great event, and that 
too in terms which by no means necessarily imply 

Philolof^, Tnuw. i, 17K *^. The amount of Keltic words yet current 
in Kii}(liih may of course be accounted for in part, without the b^-po- 
thetia of an actual incorjKiration ; but many have unquestionably been 
borrowe«l, and si^n'c to show that a strong Keltic element was permitted 
to remain aiul iutluoucc the Saxon. That it did so especially in local 
namt^ is not of much im{M>itance, as it may be doubted whether con- 
quest ever succeedetl in chang:ing: these entirely, in any country. 

* I borrow from Ilermann Miiller*s instructive work, Der Lex Salica 
und der Lex Anglionim et Werinorum Alter und Heimat, p. 269, the 
following chronological notices of the Franks in their relations to the 
Roman empire : — 

A.D. 250. Franks, the inhabitants of marshes, become known by their 
predator)' excursions. 

280. Franks, transplanted to Asia, return. 

287. Franks occupy Batavia ; are expelled. 

291. Franks in the Gallic provinces. 

306. Constantine chastises the Franks. They enjoy consideration 
in the service of Rome. 

340. Wars and treaties with the Franks. 

356. Julian treats with the Franks on the lower Rhine. 

358. lie treats with Franks in Toxandria. 

359. Salic Franks in Batavia. 

395. Stihcho treats iitith the Franks. 

408. The Vandals invading Gaul are defeated by the Franks. 

414. War ^nth the Franks. 

416. The Franks possess the Rhine-land. 

437. Chlofjo biursta into Gaul and takes Cambray. 


a state of things consistent with the received ac- J 
counts. The former only says indefinitely, that 
oBout 441, Britain was finally reduced under the 
Saxon power ; while Procopius clearly shows how 
very imperfect, indeed fabulous, an account he had 
received'. Could we trust the accuracy and cri- 
tical spirit of this writer, whom no less a man than 
Gibbon has condescended to call the gravest histo- 
rian of his time, we might indeed imagine that we 
had recovered one fact of our earliest history, which 
brought with it all the attractions of romance. An 
Angle princess had been betrothed to Radiger, 
prince of the Vami, a Teutonic tribe whose seats 
are subsequently described to have been about the 
shores of the Northern Ocean and upon the Rhine, 
by which alone they were separated from the 
Franks*. Tempted however partly by motives of 
policy, partly perhaps by maxims of heathendom, 
he deserted his promised bride and offered his hand 
to Theodechild, the widow of his father, and sister 
of the Austrasian Theodberht^. Like the epic he- 
roine Brynhildr, the deserted lady was not disposed 

* Procop. Bel. Got, iv. 20. 

' Ovappoi fiiw vrF€p "larpov mrofioy idpvrrcu, diriKavtri dc axpi T€ cr 
*QK€€Uf6w Tov dpKT^ov KOI TTorafiov 'Prjvop, 6<nr€p alrovs re diopi{€i Koi 
♦payyovff xtu rSXXa €$in], A ravrrj ^pwrai' o5ro4 Sn(urr€9, ootn t6 irakatov 
dfixpi *P^M>v fKorfp^^v noTOfWV ^lajyro, Idiov fUv ripot ovofutros tKaaroi 

fi€T€kayxavov rn"! Koivrjs ^ Frp/ioyol €K<{kovyro 6iravT€S.,.Ovapvoi dt 

Kai ^payyoi rovri fiovov rov *P^i«ov to vdop iifr<i(y f;(ov<r4v. Bel. Got. 


' Procopius tells us that this was done by the dying father's advice, 
and in consonance with the law of the people. 'Padiytp d« 6 vais (vvoi- 
Ki{ta$t0 TJ p.ijTpviq. rh Xomop rfj avrov, KoBair^p 6 vdrpios tiplv i<fiiria'i 
v6fu>s. Ibid. Conf. Bed. II. £. ii. 5. 


to pass over the affront thus offered to her charms. 
With an immense armament she sailed for the 
mouth of the Rhine. A victory placed the faithless 
bridegroom a prisoner in her power. But desire of 
revenge gave place to softer emotions, and the tri- 
umphant princess was content to dismiss her rival 
and compel her repentant suitor to perform his en- 

To deny all historical foundation to this tale 
would perhaps be carrying scepticism to an un- 
reasonable extent. Yet the most superficial exa- 
mination proves that in all its details, at least, it is 
devoid of accuracy. The period during which the 
events described must be placed ^ is between the 
years 534 and 547 ; and it is very certain that the 
Varni were not settled at that time where Proco- 
pius has placed them^: on that locality we can 
only look for Saxons. It is hardly necessary to say 
that a fleet of four hundred ships, and an army of 
one hundred thousand Angles, led by a woman, are 
not data upon which we could implicitly rely in 
calculating either the political or military power of 
any English principality at the commencement of 
the sixth century ; or that ships capable of carrying 
two hundred and fifty men each, had hardly been 
launched at that time from any port in England. 
Still 1 am not altogether disposed to deny the pos- 

* The years 5.*>l and 547 are the extreme terras of Tbeodberht's 
reigrn. See Gib. Dec. bk. 38. 

' This fact, which has escaped the accurate, and generally merciless, 
criticism of Gibbon, is very clearly proved by Zeuss, Die Deutschen, 
etc. pp. 361, 362. 


sibility of predatory expeditions from the more set- 
tled parts of the Island, adjoining the eastern coasts. 
Gregory of Tours tells us that about the same time 
as that assigned to this Angle expedition, Theodoric 
the Frank, assisted by Sueves, Saxons and even 
Bavarians, cruelly devastated the territory of the 
Tburingians ; and although it would be far more 
natural to seek these Saxons in their old settle- 
ments upon the continent, we have the authority 
of Ruodolf or Meginhart, that they were in fact in- 
habitants of this island'. 

But if such difficulties exist in dealing with the 
events of periods which are within the ascertained 
limits of our chronological system, and which have 
received the illustration of contemporary history, 
what shall we say of those whereof the time, nay 

' The passage it siifEciently important to deserve tmntription nt 
len^h. "Saxouiim gens, sicut trulit antiqiiitas, nb Anglis Brilanniac 
incolis cgretsa, per Oceanum narif^ns Germaniae litoribus studio et 
DCoesutate cfuaereiKbuiiin solium appulsa est, in loco qui rncatuT Ila- 
dulohe, eo tempore quo Thiotricus res Francorum coDtnt Irminfriilmn, 
gcDcrum suum, duecni Tburingorum, dimicuu, tenvQ eorura ferro vas- 
t«Tit et igni. Et cum iam duobus proeliis nucipiti pugna incertsque 
victoria miscrnbili suorum caede deccrtassent, Thiotricus spc vincendi 
fruslratua, misit Icgatos ad Saxoocs, quonim dux ernt Rwlugoto. Au- 
divit enim causam advcntiis corum, promissisquc pro victoria habitandi 
icdibua, conduxit coa in adiutoriumi quibussecum quasi iam pro tiber- 
tale et patria fortit^r dunicantibus, aupt-'ravit adverssrios, Tostatisqiie 
iadjgenis et ad intemitioDem peue dctetis, terram eonim iuxta pollici- 
tatioiiem victoribus dclegavil. Qui cam sorte dividcntcs, cum multi ex 
cis in bello cccidissent, et pro raritnte corum tola ab cis orcupari non 
potuit, partem ilUus, ct earn quam maxime quae respicit orientem, co- 
lonia tradebimt, singuli pro sorCe sua, sub tributo cxercendam. Coctera 
icro loca ipsi poBsidcrant." TmuaL Sci. Alexand. Pert/, it. Ci~4. This 
was writleo about 8fi3. Poaaiblv some ancient and now lost tpic liad 
iccmded tbe wars of the Ssjiou UcaSogcat. 


even the locality is uDknown ? What account shall 
we render of those occurrences, which exist for us 
only in the confused forms given to them by suc- 
cessive ages ; some, mischievously determined to 
reduce the abnormal to rule, the extraordinary to 
order, as measured by their narrow scheme of ana- 
logy ? Is it not obvious that to seek for historic 
truth in such traditions, is to be guilty of violating 
every principle of historic logic ? Such was the 
course pursued by our early chroniclers, but it is 
not one that we can be justified in repeating. In 
their view no doubt, the annals of the several Saxon 
kingdoms did supply points of definite information ; 
but we are now able to take the measure of their 
credulity, and to apply severer canons of criticism 
to the facts themselves which thev beUeved and re- 
corded. If it was the tendency and duty of their 
age to deliver to us the history that they found, it 
is the tendency and duty of ours to enquire upon 
what foundation that history rests, and what amount 
of authority it may justly claim. 

The little that Beda could collect at the begin- 
ning of the eighth century, formed the basis of all 
the subsequent reports. Though not entirely free 
firom the prejudices of his time, and yielding ready 
faith to tales which his frame of mind disposed him 
willingly to credit, he seems to have bestowed some 
pains upon the investigation and critical apprecia- 
tion of the materials he collected. But the limits 
of the object he had proposed to himself, viz. the 
ecclesiastical history of the island, not only imposed 
upon him the necessity of commencing his detailed 


narrative at a comparatively late period ^ but led 
him to reject much that may have been well known 
to him 9 of our secular history. The deeds of pagan 
and barbarous chieftains offered little to attract his 
attention or command his sympathies ; indeed were 
little likely to be objects of interest to those from 
whom his own information was generally derived. 
Beda's account, copied and recopied both at home 
and abroad, was swelled by a few vague data from 
the regnal annals of the kings ; these were probably 
increased by a few traditions, ill understood and ill 
applied, which belonged exclusively to the epical 
or mythological cycles of our own several tribes 
and races, and the cognate families of the continent ; 
and finally the whole was elaborated into a mass of 
inconsistent fables, on the admission of Cymric or 
Armorican tales by Norman writers, who for the 
most part felt as little interest in the fate of the 
Briton as the Saxon, and were as little able to ap- 
preciate the genuine history of the one as of the 
other race. Thus Wdden, Bseldseg, (xedt, Scyld, 
Scedf and Bedwa gradually found their way into 
the royal genealogies ; one by one, Brutus, Aurelius 
Ambrosius, Uther Pendragon and Arthur, Hen- 
gest, Hors and Vortigern, all became numbered 
among historical personages ; and from heroes of 
respective epic poems sunk down into kings and 

* Beda attempts to give some account of the early state of Britain 
pieyiouB to the arriyal of Augustine; a few quotations from. Solinus, 
GKldas, and a l^cndary life of St. Germanus, comprise however nearly 
the whole of his collections. Either he could find no more information, 
or he did not think it worthy of helief. He even speaks doubtfully of 
the tale of Hengest Hist. £ocl. i. 15. 


warriorSi who lived and fought and died upon the 
soil of England. 

We are ignorant what fasti or mode even of 
reckoning the revolutions of seasons prevailed in 
England » previous to the introduction of Chris- 
tianitv. We know not how anv event before the 
year 600 was recorded, or to what period the me- 
morv of man extended. There may have been rare 
annals : there may have been poems : if such there 
were they have perished, and have left no trace 
behind, unless we are to attribute to them such 
scanty notices as the Saxon chronicle adds to Beda's 
account. From such sources however little could 
have been s:ained of accurate information either as 
to the real internal state, the domestic progress, 
or development of a people. The dry, bare en- 
tries of the chronicles in historical periods may 
supply the means of judging what sort of annals 
were likelv to exist before the s:eneral introduction 
of the Roman alphabet and parchment, while, in 
^ probability, runes supplied the place of letters, 
and stoae$> or the 6efcA-wood from which th^ name 
is derived^ of books. Again » the traditions embo- 
died in the epic, are preeminently those of kings 
and princes : they are henMcal. devoted to cele- 


brate the divine or halt'^vine founders of a race^ 
the tbrtunes of their wurtike descendants, the man- 
ners and mode of liie of militarv adventurers, not 
the obscure progress, hcuseiiold peace and orderly 
habits of the humble huj^bandmon. They are full 
of teasts ami ti^hcing^ sliinin^ anii;> and golden 
ggblets : the giods mingte amiMig mea almost tkeir 


equals, share in the same pursuits, are animated hy 
the same passions of love, and jealousy and hatred ; 
or, blending the divine with the mortal nature, be- 
come the founders of races, kingly because derived 
from divinity itself. But one race knows little of 
another or its traditions, and cares as little for them. 
Alliances or wars alone 'bring them in contact with 
one another ; and the terms of intercourse between 
the races will for the most part determine the cha- 
racter under which foreign heroes shall be admitted 
into tiie national epos, or whether they shall be 
admitted at all. All history then, which is founded 
in any degree upon epical tradition (and national 
history is usually more or less so founded) must be 
to that extent imperfect, if not inaccurate ; only 
when corrected by tiie written references of con- 
temporaneous authors, can we assign any certainty 
to its records'. 

Let us apply these observations to the early 
events of Saxon history : of Kent indeed we have 
the vague and uncertain notices which I have men- 
tioned : even more vague and uncertain are those 
of Sussex and Wessex, Of the former, we learu 
that in the year477, JEIM with three sons, Cymen, 
Wlencing and Cissa, landed in Sussex ; that in the 
year 485 they defeated the Welsh, and that in 491 
ihey destroyed the population of Anderida*. Not 
another word is there about Sussex, before the ar- 

' The Homeric pocma and tliose of the Eililn arc obvious example* : 
bijt nothing can lie more instructive thiiii the hislory whieh Livy and 
9*xo OranimaticnB hare woven out of similnr materiida, 

* Sas. Chron. iindti' the resptctive dulcs. 


rival of Augustine, except a late assertion of the 
military pre-eminence of ^Ui among the Saxon 
chieftains. The events of Wessex are somewhat 
better detailed ; we learn that in 495 two nobles, 
Cerdic and Cyneric, came to England, and landed 
at Cerdices ora, where on the same day they fought 
a battle : that in 501 they were followed by a noble 
named Port, who with his two sons Bieda and 
Maegia made a forcible landing at Portsmouth: 
and that in 508 they gained a great battle over a 
British king, whom they slew together ^ith five 
thousand of his people. In 5 14 Stufi* and Wihtgar, 
their nephews, brought them a reinforcement of 
three ships ; in 519 they again defeated the Britons, 
and established the kingdom of Wessex. In 527 a 
new victory is recorded : in 530, the Isle of Wight 
was subdued and given to Wihtgar ; and in 534, 
Cerdic died, and was succeeded by Cyneric, who 
reigned twenty-six years \ In 544 Wihtgar died. 
A victory of Cyneric in 552 and 556, and Ceawlin's 
accession to the throne of Wessex are next recorded. 
Wars of the Westsaxon kings are noted in 568, 
571, 577, 584. From 590 to 595 a king of that 
race named Ceol is mentioned: in 591 we learn 
the expulsion of Ceawlin from power : in 593 the 
deaths of Ceawlin, Cwichelm and Crida are men- 
tioned, and in 597, the year of Augustine's arrival, 
we learn that Ceolwulf ascended the throne of 

Meagre as these details are, they far exceed what 

» Cerdic mnd Cyneric landed in 495, after forty yeara Cerdic diea, 
and Cyneric reigns twenty-tix more! 

ca. 1.] 


is related of Northumberland, Essex, or East- 
anglia. Id 547 we are told that Ida began to reign 
in the tirst of these kingdoms ; and that he was suc- 
ceeded in 560 by ^lli : that after a reign of thirty 
years ', he died in 588 and was succeeded by jESeU 
ric, who again in 593 was succeeded by M'Selfrv^. 
This is all we learn of Northumbria ; of Mercia, 
Essex, Eastanglia, and the innumerable kingdoms 
that must have been comprised under these general 
appellations, we hear not a single word. 

If this be all that we can now recover of events, 
a great number of which must have fallen within 
the lives of those to whom Augustine preached, 
what credit shall we give to the inconsistent ac- 
counts of earlier actions ? How shall we supply 
the almost total want of information respecting the 
first settlements ? What explanation have we to 
give of the alliance between Jutes, Angles and 
Saxons which preceded tlie invasions of England f 
What knowledge will these records supply of the 
real number and quality of the chieftains, the lan- 
guage and blood of the populations who gradually 
spread themselves from the Atlantic to the Frith 
of Forth ; of the remains of Roman cultivation, or 
the amount of British power with which they had 
to contend ? of the vicissitudes of good and evil for- 
tune which visited the independent principalities, 
before they were swallowed up in the kingdoms of 

' The chronology is inronsistcDt lliruufcliout, nnd il is inconceivable 
tliM it shoulil liBiL- liccn ullienriM'. Bl-iIb liimself uiuigm lUftercnt 
(Utci to tlie nrrivnl nf Ihc Saxons, Ihough it ia the tera from whicli he 
frequently rerkone. 


the heptarchy, or the extent of the influence which 
they retained after that event ? On all these several 
points we are left entirely in the dark; and yet 
these are facts which it most imports us to know, 
if we would comprehend the growth of a society 
which endured for at least seven hundred years in 
England, and formed the foundation of that in 
which we live. 

Lappenberg has devoted several pages of his 
elaborate history * to an investigation of the Kent- 
ish legends, with a view to demonstrate their tra- 
ditional, that is unhistorical, character. He has 
shown that the best authorities are inconsistent 
with one another and with themselves, in assigning 
the period of Hengest's arrival in England. Care- 
fully comparing the dates of the leading events* as 
given from the soundest sources, he has proved be- 
yond a doubt, that all these periods are calculated 
upon a mythical number 8, whose multiples recur in 
every year assigned. Thus the periods of twenty- 
four, sixteen, eight and particularly forty years 
meet us at every turn ; and a somewhat similar 
tendency may, I think, be observed in the earlier 
dates of Westsaxon history cited in a preceding 
page. It is also very probable that the early ge- 
nealogies of the various Anglosaxon kings were 
arranged in series of eight names, including always 
the great name of Woden ^ 

The result of all these enquiries is, to guard 

' Thorpe's Lappenb. i. 7B seq, 

^ Bc6wu\£, ii. Postscript to the Preface, xxvii. 


against plausible details which can only mislead 
us. If we endeavour to destroy the credit of tradi- 
tions which have long existed, it is only to put 
something in their place, inconsistent with them, 
but of more value :. to reduce them to what they 
really are, lest their authority should render the 
truth more obscure, and its pursuit more difficult 
than is necessary ; but to use them wherever they 
seem capable of guiding our researches, and are 
not irreconcileable with our other conclusions. 

Far less in the fabulous records adopted by hi- 
storians, than in the divisions of the land itself, 
according to the populations that occupied it, and 
the rank of their several members, must the truth 
be sought. The names of the tribes and families 
have survived in the localities where they settled, 
while their peculiar forms of customary law have 
become as it were melted together into one gene- 
ral system ; and the national legends which each of 
them most probably possessed, have either perished 
altogether, or are now to be traced only in proper 
names which fill up the genealogies of the royal 
families ^ To these local names I shall return 

' Gedty the q)onyinu8 of a race, Gcatas, is found in the common 
genealogy previous to W6den ; his legend is alluded to in the Codex 
Exoniensis, pp. 377« 378, together with those of De6dric, W^land and 
Eormanrlc. Witta in the Kentish line is found in the Traveller's Song, 
1. 43. Offa in the Mercian genealogy occurs in the same poem, 1. 69, 
in the fine epos of Beowulf, and in Saxo Grammaticus. Ym the son 
of Folcwalda is one of the heroes of Be6wulf. Scyld, Sce&f and Be6wa 
are found in the same poem, etc. These facts render it prohahle 
*that many other, if not aU the names in the genealogies were equally 
derived from the peculiar national or gentile legends, although the 
epic poems in which they were celebrated being now lost, we are un- 
able to point to them as we have done to others. 

VOL. I. D 

34 THE SlXOXS IX EXGLA5D. [book I. 

hereafter ; thev will furnish a strone confimiation 
of what has been advanced in this chapter as to 
the probability of an early and wide dispersion 
of Teatonic settlers in Britain. 




All that we learn of the original principles of 
settlement, prevalent either in England or on the 
continent of Europe, among the nations of Ger- 
manic blood, rests upon two main foundations; 
first, the possession of land ; second, the distinction 
of rank ; and the public law of every Teutonic tribe 
impUes the dependence of one upon the other 
principle, to a greater or less extent. Even as he 
who is not free can, at first, hold no land within the 
limits of the community, so is he who holds no 
land therein, not fully free, whatever his personal 
rank or character may be. Thus far the Teutonic 
settler differs but little from the ancient Spartiate 
or the comrade of Romulus. 

The particular considerations which arise from the 
contemplation of these principles in their progres- 
sive development, will find their place in the seve- 
ral chapters of this Book : it deals with land held 
in community, and severalty ; with the nature and 
accidents of tenure ; with the distinction and privi- 
leges of the various classes of citizens, the free, the 
noble and the serf ; and with the institutions by 
which a mutual guarantee of life, honour and peace- 
ful possession was attempted to be secured among 



the Anglosaxons. These are the incunabula^ first 
principles and rudiments of the Elnglish law^ ; and 
in these it approaches, and assimilates to, the sy- 
stem which the German conquerors introduced into 
every state which they founded upon the ruins of 
the Roman power. 

As land may be held by many men in common, 
or by several households, under settled conditions, 
it is expedient to examine separately the nature 
and character of these tenures : and first to enquire 
into the forms of possession in common ; for upon 
this deiKnds the political being of the state, its 
constitutional law, and its relative position towards 
other states. Among the Anglosaxons land so held 
in common was desisrnated bv the names Mark, and 
Gd or Shire. 

The smallest and simplest of these common di- 
visions is that which we technicaUv call a Mai^ or 
March (mearc^ ; a word less tErequent in the Anglo- 
saxoQ than the German muniments, onlv because 
the S3rslem founded upon what it represents yidded 
in En«:Iand earlier than in Germanv to extraneous 
influences. This is the first general division, the 
next in order to the private estates or iloik of the 
Markmen : as its name denotes, it is something 
marked out or defined, bavins: settled boondaries ; 
somethuLT serving as a sis:n to others, and distiii- 
gufi$hed by sxCTS. It is the plot of land oa wliidi 
a sreater or ksser number of free men have set- 
tied ibr purposes of cultivation, and for the sake 
o£ ODLOTjal prcdt and procectioci ; and it comprises m 

i ^ 

CH. II.] THE HARK. 3? 

portion both of arable laod and pasture, in propor- 
tion to the numbers that enjoy its produce'. 

However far we may pursue our researches into 
the early records of our forefathers, we cannot dis- 
cover a period at which this organization was 
unknown. Whatever may have been the original 
condition of the German tribes, tradition and his- 
tory alike represent them to us as living partly by 
agriculture, partly by the pasturing of cattle*. They 
had long emerged from the state of wandering 
herdsmen, hunters or fishers, when they first at- 
tracted the notice, and disputed or repelled the 
power, of Rome. The peculiar tendencies of vari- 
ous tribes may have introduced peculiar modes of 
placing or constructing their habitations ; but of 
no German population is it stated, that they dwelt 
in tents like the Arab, in waggons like the Scy- 
thian, or in earth-dug caverns like the troglodytes 
of Wallachia : the same authority that tells of some 
who lived alone as the hill-stde or the fresh spring 
pleased them', notices the vilhiges, the houses and 
even the fortresses, of others. 

' " A^ pro numero cultoruta, all uuircraiis pti vices occiipoutur, quu* 
mox inter ae secuniluni dignatioDcm portiimtur ; faciliutuiu partienili 
camponiin apstia praestant." Tac. Germ. 26. 

' " Sols terrae segea imjieratur," tlie; raise com, but not fruits or 
vegetable!. Tiic. Germ. 26, " Frumenti niwium liomiiius, aut pecoris, 
aut vestia, ut coIodo, iaiuogit ; et servus linctenus porct." ll)iil. 25. 
Uotdcum, and frunjeotum. Ibid. 23. 

■ " Coluut diacreti ac diTCrsi, ut fons, ut campus, ut nemus placuit. 
VictM locaut, non ia nostrum morem, eonacMii ct cobocreutibui aedifi- 
eiia; auam quiique domiitn apatio drcuindat." Tac. Oerm. IC. Wlien 
Taritui speaks of caverns dug in the earth, it is as granaries (wliich 
may to this day be seen in Hungary) or aa placci of refuge from sud- ' 


Without commerce, means of extended commu- 
nication, or peaceful neighbours, the Germans can- 
not have cultivated their fields for the service of 
strangers : they must have been consumers, as they 
certainly were raisers, of bread-corn ; early docu- 
ments of the Anglosaxons prove that considerable 
quantities of wheat were devoted to this purpose. 
Even the serfs and domestic servants were entitled 
to an allowance of bread, in addition to the supply 
of flesh ^ ; and the large quantities of ale and beer 
which we find enumerated among the dues payable 
firom the land, or in gifts to religious establish- 
ments, presume a very copious supply of cereales 
for the purpose of malting^. But it is also certain 
that our forefathers depended very materiaUy for 
subsistence upon the herds of oxen, sheep, and 
especially swine, which they could feed upon the 
unenclosed meadows, or in the wealds of oak and 
beech which covered a large proportion of the land. 
From the moment, in short, when we first learn 
anything of their domestic condition, all the Grer- 
man tribes appear to be -settled upon arable land, 
surrounded with forest pastures, and having some 
kind of property in both. 

1 On xii mdntSuin Hu. scc«lt sillan t^um |>e6wmn men vii hand hMfii 
*) XX hla£i, butan morgemettum *) nonmettum : in the course of twelve 
months thou shalt give thy |>e6w or serf, seven hundred and twenty 
loaves, besides morning meals and noon meals. SaL and Sat. p. 192. 
We should perh^» read seven hundred and thirty, which would give 
daily two loaves, probably of rye or barley. Compare the allowancea 
mentioned in the Rectitudines Singularum Personarum. Anc. Lawi. 
Thorpe, i. 432 seq. 

' So from the earliest times : " Potui humor ex hordeo aut frumento 
in quandam similitudinem vini corruptus." Tac. Germ. 23. 


Caesar, it is true, denies that agriculture was 
much cultivated among the Germans, or that pro- 
perty in the arable land was permitted to be perma- 
nent^ : and, although it seems impolitic to limit the 
efforts of industry, by diminishing its reward, it is 
yet conceivable that, under peculiar circumstances, 
a warUke confederation might overlook this obvi- 
ous truth in their dread of the enervating influences 
of property and a settled life. There may have 
been difficulty in making a new yearly division of 
land, which to our prejudices seems almost impos- 
sible ; yet the Arab of Oran claims only the produce 
of the seed he has sown^ ; the proprietor in the 
Jaghire district of Madras changes his lands from 
year to year^ ; the tribes of the Afghans submit to 
a new distribution even after a ten years' possession 
has endeared the field to the cultivator^ ; Diodorus 
tells us that the Vaccaeans changed their lands 
yearly and <iivided the produce* ; and Strabo attri- 
butes a similar custom to one tribe at least of the 
Ulyrian Dalmatians, after a period of seven^. 

But so deeply does the possession of land enter 
into the principle of all the Teutonic institutions, 
that I cannot bring myself to believe in the accu- 

1 " Agriculturae non student : maiorque pars rictus eorum in lacte, 
caseo, came consistit : neque quisquam agri modum certum aut fines 
habet proprios ; sed magistratus ac principcs in annos singulos gentibus 
cognationibusque bominum, qui una coierint, quantum, ct quo loco 
Tisum est, agri adtribuunt, atque anno post alio transire cogunt. Eius 
rei multas adferunt causas; ne, adsidua consuetudine capti, studium 
belli gerundi agricultura commutent ; " etc. Bell. Gall. vi. 22. 

' The administration of Oran. Times newspaper, Aug. 24th, 1844. 

» Fifth Rep., Committee, 1810, p. 723, cited in Mill's Brit. India,i.315. 

« Elphinstone's Caubul, ii. 17, IB, 19. 

* Diodorus, v. 34. ' Strabo, bk. vii. p. 315. 


racy of Caesar's statement. Like his previous rash 
and most unfounded assertion respecting the Ger- 
man gods, this may rest only upon the incorrect 
information of Gallic provincials : at the utmost it 
can be applied only to the Suevi and their warlike 
allies!, if it be not even intended to be confined to 
the predatory bands of Ariovistus, encamped among 
the defeated yet hostile Sequani*. The equally 
well-known passage of Tacitus, — " arva per annos 
mutant, et superest ager^," — may be most safely 
rendered as applying to the common mode of cul- 
ture ; " they change the arable from year to year, 
and there is land to spare ; " that is, for commons 
and pasture : but it does not amount to a proof 
that settled property in land was not a part of the 
Teutonic scheme ; it implies no more than this, 
that within the Mark which was the property of all, 
what was this year one man's corn-land, might the 
next be another man's fallow ; a process very in- 
telligible to those who know anything of the system 
of cultivation yet prevalent in parts of Germany, 
or have ever had any interest in what we call Lam- 
mas Meadows. 

Zeuss, whose admirable work^ is indispensable 
to the student of Teutonic antiquity, brings toge- 
ther various passages to show that at some early 
period, the account given by Caesar may have 
conveyed a just description of the mode of life in 

' Ilanides, Marcomanni, Tribocci, Vangiones, Nemetes and Sedusii. 
Bell. GaU. i. 51. 

» BeU. Gall. i. 31. » Tac. Germ. 26. 

* Die Deutschen und die Nachbarttamme, von Kaspar Zeuss. Miin- 
chcn. 1837. 

CH- uO TEE MARK. 41 

Germany!. He represents its inhabitants to himself 
as something between a settled and an unsettled 
people. What they may have been in periods pre- 
vious to the dawn of authentic history, it is impos- 
sible to say ; but all that we really know of them 
not only implies a much more advanced state of 
civilization, hut the long continuance and tradition 
of such a state. We cannot admit the validity of 
Zeuss' reasoning, or escape from the conviction 
that it mainly results from a desire to establish his 
etymology of the names borne by the several con- 
federations, and which requires the hypothesis of 
wandering and unsettled tribes'. 

' He dtes the pasuge from Caerar y\ucb I have quoted, ud dio 
Bell. G»I1. IT. 1, which ttill applies only to the Sugti. Hii next evi- 
dence IB the astcrtion of Tacitiu just noticed. His third u from Plu- 
taKh'a Aemil, Paul. c. 12, of ibe Baatarnae: iMpts oiytupyfif fliirtt, 

av ?rXf LVj ovK OTTO Trw^iviaii' Qp H^yrtv, oXX* iv Spyov ical fiiar Ti-)(yrjv fU- 
XerSoTtt, ut\ fiaxifSai xai Kpariir rnu- atriTamtfiti/ui'. A peo])]e with- 
out agriculture or pommeTce, and who bve only on fightinjf, may be left 
undisturbed in the realm of dreams with which philoiophen are con- 
versant. ZeuM proceeds to reason upon the analogy of examples de- 
rired from notices of Britona, Kelts and Wends, in Strabo, Putybiut 
and Dio Casaius. See p. 53, etc. 

' Thus, according to his Tiew, ISuevi (Suap, Swxf ) denotes the wan- 
derers ; Wandal also the wnnderers. Assuredly if nations at large par- 
took of such habits, single tribes could not hare derived a name Stoxa 
the custom. IIow much more easy woidd it be, upon similar etymolo- 
gical grounds, to prove that the leading Teutonic nations were named 
from their weapons 1 Saxons from veox, the long knife ; Angles from 
angot, a hook; Franks from/ronco, a jareliu; Langobards and Hea'Eo- 
borda from barda, the axe or balberd; uay even the general nunc 
iudf, Germans, from gdrman (Old Germ, kirman) the javelin- or goad- 
man. Yet who would asscK these to be satisfactory derivations T Zahn, 
whose services to Old German literature cannot be overrated, spcaka 
wisely when he calls the sitniiarity of proper names, a rock " on which 
nneritienl beads are much in the habit of splittiDg." Vorrede lu 
Ulpbilas, p. 3, 


The word Mark has a legal as well as a territo* 
rial meaning :. it is not only a space of land, such 
as has been described, but a member of a state 
also ; in which last sense it represents those who 
dwell upon the land, in relation to their privileges 
and rights, both as respects themselves and others. 
But the word, as applied even to the territory, has 
a twofold meaning : it is, properly speaking, em- 
ployed to denote not only the whole district occu- 
pied by one small community^ ; but more especially 
those forests and wastes by which the arable is en- 
closed, and which separate the possessions of one 
tribe from those of another*. The Mark or boun- 
dary pasture-land, and the cultivated space which 
it surrounds, and which is portioned out to the se- 
veral members of the community, are inseparable ; 

^ If a man be emancipated, his lord shall still retain the right to his 
mund and wergyld, sy ofer mearce tSscr he wille, be he over the mark 
wherever he may he, be he out of the district where he may. LI. Wihtr. 
§ 8. Thorpe, i. 38. 

. ' Grimm is of opinion that the word Marc itself originally denoted 
forest, and that the modem sense is a secondary one, derived from the 
fact of forests being the signs or marks of commimities. Deut. Granz- 
alterthiimer. Berl. 1844. There can be no doubt that forests were so : 
in Old Norse the two ideas, and the words by which they are expressed, 
flow into one another : Mork (f ) is silva, Mark (n) is limes. In the 
£dda and Sogur, MyrkTitSr is the common name for a wood : thus, 
■em )>es8i her kom saman, ritSa )>eir k sk6g >an er Myrkvi'Sr heitir, 
hann skilr Htinaland ok Rei'Sgota land ; they rode to the forest which 
is called Myrkvi'Sr (mearcwidu in Anglosaxon) which separates Huna 
land from Reidgota land. Fomm. Sug. i. 496. Though given here as 
a proper name, it is unquestionably a general one. Conf. Edda, Vo- 
lund. CT. 1. 

meyjar flugu sunnan 

myrkvi'5 igognum. 

and 80 in many passages. The darkness of the forest gives rise also to 
the adjective murky. 

CH. n.] THE MARK. 43 

however difierent the nature of tho property which 
can be had m them, they are in fact one whole ; 
taken together, they make up the whole territori^ 
possession of the original cognatio^ kin or tribe. 
The ploughed lands and meadows are guarded by 
the Mark ; and the cultivator ekes out a subsistence 
which could hardly be wrung from the small plot 
he calls his own, by the flesh and other produce of 
beasts, which his sons, his dependents or his serfs 
mast for him in the outlying forests. 

Let us first take into consideration the Mark in 
its restricted and proper sense of a boundary. Its 
most general characteristic is, that it should not be 
distributed in arable, but remain in heath, forest, 
fen and pasture. In it the Markmen— called in 
Germany Markgenossen, and perhaps by the Anglo- 
saxons Mearcgeneatas — ^had commonable rights ; 
but there could be no private estate in it, no hid or 
hlot, no x}^^ or haeredium. Even if under pecu- 
liar circumstances, any markman obtained a right 
to essart or clear a portion of the forest, the por- 
tion so subjected to the immediate law of property 
ceased to be mark. It was undoubtedly under 
the protection of the gods ; and it is probable that 
within its woods were those sacred shades espe- 
cially consecrated to the habitation and service of 
the deity '. 

^ Tncitiu says of the Semnones : " Stato tempore in silyam auguriis 
patmm et prisca formidine sacram omnes eiusdem sanguinis populi 
legationibus coeunt, caesoqae publice homine celebrant barbari ritus 
horrenda primordia. Est et alia luco reverentia. Nemo nisi vinculo 
ligatua ingreditur, ut minor et potestatem numinis prae se ferens. Si 
forte prolapsus est, attoUi et insurgere baud licitum^ per bumum e¥ol- 


If the nature of an early Teutonic settlement, 
which has nothing in common with a city, be duly 
considered, there will appear an obvious necessity 
for the existence of a mark, and for its being main- 
tained inviolate. Every community, not sheltered 
by walls, or the still firmer defences of public law, 
must have one, to separate it from neighbours and 
protect it from rivals : it is like the outer pulp that 
surrounds and defends the kernel. No matter how 
small or how large the community, — ^it may be 
only a village, even a single household, or a whole 
state, — it will still have a Mark, a space or boun- 
dary by which its own rights of jurisdiction are 
limited, and the encroachments of others are kept 
off \ The more extensive the community whidi 

iW ntgMtqr 0— in» deos^ oetcra snlMecta aiqae paRBtM." Gem. 39. 
j^jlpin: *^A|Mid NakaBurakv anliqvae Kfipoub IiKns uumditm-** 
lUd. 43w Wtdottt assntni^ the eadstniK oi the Maik mmaag Ae 
Gi««ks vitk an the i^ecdikr G<imh cftancteziatici^ we wamyhanow 
&om thtWL wm iHifescimcM aai drtlaibatt of its oitare. Pcii i gej i die 
tontucKS oif the AthtfiiaBs aai HegsRABS kr a tzaet cihady die col- 
tovMiMftol' which br thelttter fcrnedthepretcttor j>itiifcftM» of Ae 
e:u%MUumicttbMi hKBthed a^^adut them br ** OiriKpiai ** IViklu , 
w^-h wfttHwifcrfy Wd lo the ^(Iop«ne»ii w«r. and Ae iammhl of 
Ajdkens. TV AtibMnkiis.. Tbnm&ies telb ib^ nrifnaed tt> 

UiMt «ufc ris 4ju»iMrro«' Ldk u lC3S > whete the Schofiast 
<rP9« Vr <J« TT%^,AitiMnrs. Siicnni imi vit i&eiJmi ci/9 piotf/hr < 
hi tie yomcTA^ s the e^uict viednicaiMi of & Teocooic Hark. Ci 
^«HiMic Morr .shr« pprcina be twe en Lat.t»a sal Me aa e nia . ^bs.. ft. 1. 
liKchtflk^eniliic Sc Glt^F^^the«ullfi» jabitt^oceitpvdie 
atf»^ zmncesumi* ^ mack ^Coiiex Ennuenack p. II:L L ItT^ 
aecvnfieN iedmsd as siel ^ xmceiu e<SHj3hce Mr. f^ 
iatoriL M vibca :.aer<r vvnr mo ntfk£9 j/ jfnjytfrtyf. UxitL p» II3« L 9. 
- C«»ar apfieim m» b«re ttmienauiKl d^i&. He mrs : *^ Cr 


CH. II.] THE MARK. 45 

is interested in the Mark, the more solemn and 
sacred the formalities by which it is consecrated 
and defended ; but even the boundary of the pri- 
vate man's estate is under the protection of the 
gods and of the law. " Accursed," in all ages 
and all legislations, '* is he that removeth his 
neighbour's landmark." Even the owner of a pri- 
vate estate is not allowed to build or cultivate to 
the extremity of his own possession, but must leave 
a space for eaves'. Nor is the general rule abro- 
gated by changes in the original compass of the 
communities ; as smaller districts coalesce and be- 
come, as it were, compressed into one body, the 
smaller and original Marks may become obliterated 
and converted merely into commons, but the public 
mark will have been increased upon the new and 
extended frontier. Villages tenanted by Heardingas 
or Mddingas may cease to be separated, but the 
larger divisions which have grown up by their union, 
Meanwaras, MfEgsetan or Hwiccas* will still have 
a boundary of their own ; these again may be lost 
in the extending circuit of Wessex or Mercia ; till 

habere. Hoc proprium virCutis cxistimant, eipulsoa agris finitumoi 
cedere, neque quctnquHin propc nuderc coniiaterc : aimul hoc »e fore 
lutiores Brbitrantur, re{)cntinae incumonis timorc siibUto." This is 
true, but ia the csbi: of most aettlements tbc necessity of muntaiuing 
exteiuire ]iuture-grounds must bave maile itself fett et a very early 

* Efese. Goth. UbUn-a. The name tor this custom vnm Yfcidrype, 
Bavetilrip. In a charter of the year 868 it is sftid : " And by the cus- 
tom (foleei folcriht) two feet sjiaee only need he left for enve*ilri[> on 
this lanii." Cod. Dipt. No. 29fi. In Greece the distaiicus were solemnly 
r^pUated by law : see Plut. Solon, cap. 23. 

' Tbc people in the bumlreds of East and West Meon ; in Hereford- 
shire; Qud in Worcester Bud Gloucester. 


a yet greater obliteration of the Marks having been 
produced through increasing population/ internal 
conquest, or the ravages of foreign invaders, the 
great kingdom of England at length iEirises, having 
wood and desolate moorland and mountain as its 
mark against Scots, Cumbrians and Britons, and 
the eternal sea itself as a bulwark against Prankish 
and Frisian pirates^ . 

But although the Mark is waste, it is yet the 
property of the community : it belongs to the free- 
men as a whole, not as a partible possession : it 
may as little be profaned by the stranger, as the 
arable land itself which it defends*. It is under the 
safeguard of the public law, long after it has ceased 

^ To a very late period, the most powerful of our nobles were the 
Lords Marchers or Lords of the Marches of Wales and Scotland. 
Harald was lord of the Marches against the Welsh. And so the here- 
ditary Markgraves or Counts of the Mark, Marchiones, have become 
kings in Germany and Italy. Our only Markgraviats by land could 
be against the Welsh on the west, the Picts and Scots on the north. 
There were undoubtedly others among the Saxons while their king^ 
doms remained unsettled : but not when once the whole realm became 
united under JS^lstin. The consohdation of the English power has 
put down all but transmarine invaders ; hence the sea is bc^come our 
Mark, and the commanders of our ships, the Margraves. But, as 
Blackstone rather beautifully says, " water is a wandering and uncer- 
tain thing," and our Blargraves therefore establish no territorial autho- 
rity. The reader is referred to Donniges, Deutsches Staatsrecht, p. 297, 
$eq., for a very good account of the Marches of the German Empire. 

' If a stranger come through the wood, he shall blow his horn and 
shout : this will be evidence that bis intentions are just and peacefiiL 
But if he attempt to slink through in secret, he may be slain, and shall 
lie unavenged. Ini. § 20,21. Thorpe, i. 114, 116. If the death-blow 
under such circumstances be pubhcly avouched, his kindred or lord 
shall not even be allowed to prove that he was not a thief: othennise, 
if the manslaughter be concealed. This raises a presumption in law 
against the slayer, and the dead man's kindred shall be admitted to 
their oath that he was guiltless. 

OB. n.] THE MARK. 4? 

to be under the immediate protection of the gods: 
it is unsafe,, full of danger ; death lurks in its shades 
and awaits the incautious or hostile visitant : 

•al wnt tSct meardoiid all the markland was 

moi^re bewundeny with death surrounded, 

fe6ndes facne : the snares •£ the foe^: 

punishments of the most frightful character are de- 
nounced against him who violates it^ ; and though, 
in historical times, these can be only looked upon 
as comminatory and symbolical, it is very possible 
that they may be the records of savage sacrifices 
believed due, and even offered, to the gods of the 
violated sanctuary. I can well believe that we too 
had once our Diana Taurica. The Marks are called 
accursed ; that is accursed to man, accursed to him 
that does not respect their sanctity : but they are 
sacred, for on their maintenance depend the safety 
of the community, and the service of the deities 
whom that community honours^. And even when 
the gods have abdicated their ancient power, even 
to the very last, the terrors of superstition come in 
aid of the enactments of law : the deep forests and 

* Cod. Vercd. And. 1. 38. 

* Grimm has given examples of these, but they are too horrible for 
quotation. They may be read in his Deutsche Rechtsalterthiimer, 
pp. 518, 519, 520. 

' I am inclined to think that the cwealmstow or place of execution 
was properly in the mark ; as it is indeed probable that all capital 
pimishments among the Germans were originally in the natture of sacri- 
fices to the gods. When Juliana is about to be put to death, she is 
taken to the border, londmearce ne£h, nigh to the landmark. Cod. 
Exon. p. 280. Prometheus hung in the Sfiporo^ iprifxia : though per- 
haps there is another and deeper feeling here, — that the friend of man 

thoold suffer in the desert 

" where no man comet, 

Nor hath come, since the making of the world I *' 


marshes are the abodes of monsters and dragons ; 
wood-spirits bewilder and decoy the wanderer to 
destruction : the Nicors house by the side of lakes 
and marshes ^ : Grendel, the man-eater, is a ''mighty 
stepper over the mark'": the chosen home of the 
firedrake is a fen'. 

The natural tendency, however, of this state of 
isolation is to give way ; population is an ever-ac- 
tive element of social well-beine : and when once 
the suriisice of a country has become thickly stud- 
ded with communities settled between the Marks, 
and daily finding the several clearings grow less 
and less sufficient for their support^, the next step 
is the destruction of the Marks themselves, and the 
uui^>n of the settlers in larger bodies, and under 
altewd circttmstanoesw Take two villages, placed 
OQ such clearing in the kxom of the forest, tadk 
having an ill-dedned boondarv in the wood diat 
separates th<m. each extending its drcmt wood- 
w;ird 3^ poputatioc incf^jbses and presses upon the 
Lii:d. and ea^4i attec&{.^tic;^ to drive its Mark farther 
into the waste, a^s the arable fradoallv encroacfaes 
Ufoc thi;s- 1>JL the irsc mtfecing ot the herdanen, 
ocxie of tbuKe ccorses jpp^nir^ uoixvoidiible : the com- 
masicKS tuust eacer Lato ;i te^ral ixnioa ; one most 

V A Jiiim> iti«pMi* zone iis jis 

CR. II.] THE MARK. 49 

attack and subjugate the other ; or the two must 
coalesce into one on friendly and equal terms*. 
The last-named result is not improbable, if the gods 
of the one tribe are common to the other : then 
perhaps the temples only may shift their places a 
little. But in any case the intervening forest will 
cease to be Mark, because it will now lie in the 
centre, and not on the borders of the new commu- 
nity. It will be converted into common pasture, 
to be enjoyed by all on fixed conditions ; or it may 
even be gradually rooted out, ploughed, planted 
and rendered subject to the ordinary accidents of 
arable land : it will become folclandy public land, 
applicable to the general uses of the enlarged state, 
nay even divisible into private estates, upon the 
established principles of public law. And this pro- 
cess will be repeated and continue until the family 
becomes a tribe, and the tribe a kingdom ; when 
the intervening boundary lands, cleared, drained 
and divided, will have been clothed with golden 
harvests, or portioned out in meadows and com- 
mon pastures, appurtenant to villages ; and the 
only marks remaining will be the barren mountain 
and moor of the frontiers, the deep unforded rivers, 
and the great ocean that .washes the shores of the 

^ History supplies numerous illastrations of this process. Rome grew 
out of the union of the Rhamnes and Luceres with the Sabines : and 
generaDy speaking in Greece, the origin of the irJXtr lies in what may 
be called the compression of the K^fuu. The ayopa is on the space of 
neutral ground where all may meet on equal terms, as the Russians 
and Chinese trade at Kiachta : but then when the irokig has grown up, 
the ayopii is in its centre, not in its suburbs. 

VOL. 1. E 


Christianity, which destroys or diminishes the 
holiness of the forests, necessarily confines the gua- 
rantee of the Mark to the public law of the state. 
Hence when these districts become included within 
the limits of Christian communities, there is no 
difficulty in the process which has been described : 
the state deals with them as with any other part of 
its territory, by its own sovereign power, according 
to the prevalent ideas of agricultural or political 
oeconomy ; and the once inviolate land may at once 
be converted to public uses, widely different from 
its original destination, if the public advantage re* 
quire it. No longer necessary as a boundary, from 
the moment when the smaller community has be- 
come swallowed up and confounded in the larger, 
it may remain in commons, be taken possession of 
by the state as folcland, or become the source of 
even private estates, and to all these purposes we 
find it gradually applied. In process of time it 
seems even to have become partible and appurte- 
nant to private estates in a certain proportion to 
the arable * : towards the close of the tenth century 
I find the grant of a mill and millstead, "and there- 
to as much of the roarkland as belongeth to three 

The general advantage which requires the main- 
tenance of the Mark as public property, does not 
however preclude the possibility of using it for 

' Most likely as commons are dLstributed now, under enclosure->bills | 
allotments being made in fee, as compensation for commonable rights. 

' And se mylenbam *l se myln t$srt6, *l $aea meardandea sw4 myod 
swa to Irim hidon geb^TatS. an. 982. Cod. Dipl. No. 633. 

OB. II.] THE MARK. 51 

public purposesi as long as the great condition of 
indivisibility is observed. Although it may not be 
cleared and ploughed, it may be depastured, and 
all the herds of the Markmen may be fed and 
masted upon its wilds and within its shades. While 
it still comprises only a belt of forest, lying between 
small settlements, those who live contiguous to it, 
are most exposed to the sudden incursions of an 
enemy, and perhaps specially entrusted with the 
measures for public defence, may have peculiar 
privileges, extending in certain cases even to the 
right of clearing or essarting portions of it. In 
the case of the wide tracts which separate king- 
doms, we knovr that a comprehensive military or- 
ganization prevailed, with castles, garrisons and 
governors or Margraves, as in Austria, Branden- 
burg and Baden, Spoleto and Ancona, Northum-* 
berland and the Marches of Wales. But where 
clearings have been made in the forest, the holders 
are bound to see that they are maintained, and that 
the fresh arable land be not encroached upon ; if 
forest-trees spring there by neglect of the occu- 
pant, the essart again becomes forest, and, as such, 
subject to all the common rights of the Markmen, 
whether in pasture, chase or estovers*. 

The sanctity of the Mark is the condition and 
guarantee of its indivisibility, without which it can- 
not long be proof against the avarice or ambition 

^ E^overia, In this case, small wood necessary for household pur- 
poaes, as Housebote, Hedgebote and Ploughbote, the materials for re- 
pairing house, hedge and plough. But timber trees are not included. 
See Stat. West. 2. cap. 25 ; and 20 Car. II. c. 3. 

E 2 


of individuals : and its indivisibility is, in torn, the 
condition of the service which it is to render as a 
bulwark, and of its utility as a pasture. I therefore 
hold it certain that some solemn religious ceremo- 
nies at first accompanied and consecrated its limi- 
tation ^ What these may have consisted in, among 
the heathen Anglosaxons, we cannot now discover, 
but many circumstances render it probable that 
Woden, who in this function also resembles *Ep^$c, 
was the tutelary god* : though not absolutely to the 
exclusion of other deities, Tiw and Frea appearing 
to have some claim to a similar distinction*. But 
however its limit was orisrinallv drawn or driven, it 
was, as its name denotes, distinguished by marks 
or signs. Trees of peculiar size and beauty, and 
carved with the figures of birds and beasts, perhaps 
even with runic characters, served the purpose of 
limitation and definition** : striking natural features, 

' ** Sihvn aufmis ptttnim ft pcisrt fonaiiasMc fmnoJ* Tac Genn. 
39. See Ma«er. Oaiabnickbclie Gesdiiclite. L 57> seq* 

* *Ef]yur^. in this one sense Meieurius* is identkml with Woden. Both 
inrented letten: both mre the mkndeiiiig |^; bodi are OdyneiiB. 
The name of Woden is presermi in mnnj bonndarr plarfi^ or chaina 
of hillsy in erenr part of England. See ^lapu xiL of this Book. The 
Wdnae vCod. Dipt No. 495\ the Woostoe ^ibid. Xoa. 2S7, 65/), I 
hare no hesitation in translating: by Wodm*s oak* Wodcn'a poaL 
Sevldes tieow ibid. No. 4C^ mar also ider to Wodm in the tern of 
SerM. as Unices h>ni ibid. No. :^ may lecocd the aame god in hia 
fonn of Elnicor. or Hnic. 

* Tfowes hJiii. Tiw's thorn. Cod. Dipl. No. 174. Tives mm, Tlw*a 
lake. Ibid. No. :%J. Fnsxdx^^» tieow ibid. No. 1221), the tree of 
Frigedcs;. a name 1 hold «r<|uiTmknt to Fiea or Fricge. 

* The boundaries of the Anglosaxon eharters snpply a pcofbaion of 
cridenee on this subject. The trees most 6eq[uentiT ^mcd are the 
oak. ash, bee<^. thorn, elder, lime and birch. The heathen hniial- 
place or mound is singuhtfly Itrequent. Cod. DipL Noa. d47, 33S, 476. 

CH. u.] THE MARK. 53 

a hill, a brook, a morass, a rock, or the artificial 
mound of an ancient warrior, warned the intruder 
to abstain from dangerous ground, or taught the 
herdsman how far he might advance with impu- 
nity. In water or in marshy land, poles were set 
up, which it was as impious to remove, as it would 
have been to cut or burn down a mark-tree in the 

In the. second and more important sense of the 
word, the Mark is a community of families or 
households, settled on such plots of land and forest 
as have been described. This is the original basis 
upon which all Teutonic society rests, and must be 
assumed to have been at first amply competent to 

Tbe charter No. 126 has these words : " Deinde vero ad alios monticu- 
los, postea Tcro ad viam quae dicitur Fif ic, recto itinere ad easdem fif 
4c, ac proinde autem ad >reom gemseran." Here the houndaries of 
three several districts lay close to a place called Five Oaks, That the 
trees were sometimes marked is clear from the entries in the hounda- 
ries : thus, in the year 931, t6 "Sfere gemearcodon sc set Alerhuman, 
the marked oak. Cod. Dipl. No. 1102. "Sa gemearcodan sefse, the 
marked eaives or edge of the wood. Ibid. Also, on iSs, gemearcodan 
Hndan. Diid. No. 1317* Cyrstelmoel iuc, or Christ cross oak. Ibid. 
No. 118. At Addlestone, near Chertsey, is an ancient and most vene- 
rable oak, called the Crouch (crux, crois), that is Cross oak, which 
tradition declares to have been a boundary of Windsor forest. The 
same thing is found in Circassia. See Bell, ii. 58. The mearcbedm, 
without further definition is common : so the mearctredw. Cod. Dipl. 
No. 436. The mearcbr6c. Ibid. No. 1102. Artificial or natural stone 
posts are implied by the constantly recurring haran stanas, grsegan 
st&nas, hoary or grey atones. Among Christians, crosses and obelisks 
have replaced these old heathen symbols, without altering the nature 
of the sanction, and the weichbild, or mark that defines the limits of a 
jnrisdiction, can, in my opinion, mean only the sacred sign. On this 
point see Haltaus. Gloss, in voce, whose derivation from wic, oppidum, 
is unsatisfactory. See too Eichhom, Deutsche Staats- und Rechtsge- 
sdnchte, ii. 76. § 224 a. note c : with whose decision Grimm and I 


all the demands of society in a simple and early 
stage of development : for example, to have been 
an union for the purpose of administering justice, 
or supplying a mutual guarantee of peace, security 
and freedom for the inhabitants of the district. In 
this organization, the use of the land, the woods 
and the waters was made dependent upon the ge- 
neral will of the settlers, and could only be enjoyed 
under general regulations made by all for the be- 
nefit of all. The Mark was a voluntary association 
of free men, who laid down for themselves, and 
strictly maintained, a system of cultivation by 
which the produce of the land on which they set- 
tled might be fairly and equally secured for their 
service and support ; and from participation in 
which they jealously excluded all who were not 
bom, or adopted, into the association. Circum- 
stances dependent upon the peculiar local confor- 
mation of the district, or even on the relations of 
the original parties to the contract, may have caused 
a great variety in the customs of different Marks ; 
and these appear occasionally anomalous, when we 
meet with them still subsisting in a different order 
of social existence ^ ; but with the custom of one 
Mark, another had nothing to do, and the Mark- 
men, within their own limit, were independenti 
sufficient to their own support and defence, and 
seised of full power and authority to regulate their 
own affairs, as seemed most conducive to their own 

' For example in Manors, where the territorial juriadictioii of a lord 
has usurped the [)lace of the old ^larkmoot, but not availed entirely to 
destroy the old Mark-rights in the various commons. 

OH. II.] TH£ MARK. 55 

advantage. The Court of the Markinen, as it may 
be justly called, must have had supreme jurisdic- 
tion> at first y over all the causes which could in any 
way affect the interests of the whole body or the 
individuals composing it : and suit and service to 
such court was not less the duty, than the high 
privilege, of the free settlers. On the continent of 
Grermany the divisions of the Marks and the extent 
of their jurisdiction can be ascertained with consi- 
derable precision ; from these it may be inferred 
that in very many cases the later courts of the 
great landowners had been in fact at first Mark- 
courts, in which, even long after the downfall of 
the primaeval freedom, the Lord himself had been 
only the first Markman, the patron or defender of 
the simple freemen, either by inheritance or their 
election ^ In this country, the want of materials 
precludes the attainment of similar certainty, but 
there can be no reason to doubt that the same pro- 
cess took place, and that originally Markcourts 
existed among ourselves with the same objects and 
powers. In a charter of the year 971, Cod. Dipl. 
No. 568, we find the word Mearcmdt, which can 
there mean only the place where such a court, mot 

' Numerous instances may be found in Grimm's valuable work, Die 
Deutschen Weisthiimer, 3 vols. 8vo. These are the presentments or 
verdicts of such courts, from a very early period, and in all parts of 
Germany. It is deeply to be lamented that the very early customs 
found in the copies of Court Roll in England have not been collected 
and published. Such a step could not possibly affect the interests of 
Lords of Manors, or their Stewards ; but the collection would furnish 
invaluable materials for law and history. We shall have to refer here- 
after to the Advoeatus or Vogt, the elected or hereditary patron of 
these and similar aggregations. 


or meeting was held : while the mearcbeorhf which 
is not at all of rare occurrence, appears to denote 
the hill or mound which was the site of the court, 
and the place where the free settlers met at stated 
periods to do right between man and man^ 

It is not at all necessary that these communities 
should have been very small ; on the contrary, some 
of the Marks were probably of considerable extent, 
and capable of bringing a respectable force into 
the field upon emergency : others, no doubts were 
less populous, and extensive : but a hundred heads 
of houses, which is not at all an extravagant sup- 
position, protected by trackless forests^ in a district 
not well known to the invader, constitute a body 
very well able to defend its rights and privileges. 

Although the Mark seems originally to have been 
defined by the nature of the district, the hills, 
streams and forests, still its individual, peculiar 
and, as it were, private character depended in some 
degree also upon long-subsisting relations of the 
Markmen, both among themselves, and with regard 
to others. I represent them to myself as great fa- 
mily unions, comprising households of various de- 
grees of wealth, rank and authority : some, in direct 
descent from the conmion ancestors, or from the 
hero of the particular tribe : others, more distantly 
connected, through the natural result of increasing 
population, which multipUes indeed the members of 

' Memrcbeorh, the Mark-hUi, seems too special a name to express 
some hill or other, which happened to lie in the boundair. A Kentish 
charter names the gemotbeorh ^Cod. Dipl. No. 364. an. 9>d4), but this is 
indefinite, and mi^t apply to the Shiremooi. 

CH. II.] THE MARK. 57 

the family, but removes them at every step further 
from the original stock : some, admitted into com- 
munion by marriage, others by adoption ; others 
even by emancipation ; but all recognizing a bro- 
therhood, a kinsmanship or sibsceaft i ; all standing 
together as one unit in respect of other, similar 
communities ; all governed by the same judges and 
led by«the same captains ; all sharing in the same 
religious rites, and all known to themselves and 
to their neighbours by one general name. 

The original significance of these names is now 
perhaps matter of curious, rather than of useful 
enquiry. Could we securely determine it, we should, 
beyond doubt, obtain an insight into the antiquities 
of the Germanic races, far transcending the actual 
extent of our historical knowledge ; this it is hope- 
less now to expect : ages of continual struggles, of 
violent convulsions, of conquests and revolutions, 
lie between us and our forefathers : the traces of 
their steps have been efiaced by the inexorable 
march of a different civilization. This alone is cer- 
tain, that the distinction must have lain deeply 
rooted in the national religion, and supplied abun- 
dant materials for the national epos. Much has 
been irrecoverably lost, yet in what remains we 
recognize fragments which bear the impress of for- 
mer wealth and grandeur. Bedwulf, the Traveller's 
Song, and the multifarious poems and traditions 

^ Refer to Caesar's expression cognatio, in a note to p. 39. It is 
remarkable that early MS. glossaries render the word fratrueles by 
gehndan, which can only be translated, '' those settled upon the same 
land }" thiu identifying the local with the fiimily relations. 


of Scandiaavia, not less than the scattered names 
which meet us here and there in early German 
history, offer hints which can only serve to excite 
regret for the mass which has perished. The king-> 
doms and empires which have exercised the pro- 
foundest influence upon the course of modern civi- 
lization, have sprung out of obscure communities 
whose very names are only known to us throu^ 
the traditions of the poet, or the local denomina* 
tions which record the sites of their early settle* 

Many hypotheses may be formed to account for 
these ancient aggregations, especially on the conti* 
nent of Europe. Perhaps not the least plausible 
is that of a single family, itself claiming descenti 
through some hero, from the gods, and gathering 
other scattered families around itself; thus retain- 
ing the administration of the family rites of religion, 
and giving its own name to all the rest of the 
community. Once established, such distinctive ap- 
|H?llations must wander with the migrations of the 
communities themselves, or such portions of them 
as wunt of land and means, and excess of pi^nla- 
lioi\ at homo, compelled to seek new settlements, 
lu the midst of restless movements, so genenl 
and e.\len^\*e as those of our progenitors, it can- 
noi sur^^rtM^ us, when we nnd the gentile names 
ly iWrmanv. Norway, Sweden and I>mmark, re- 
vr.x:;^^^.: x::v>:: v^ur owr. sbc^rv^ Even where a 
^fw i^?\^.;;;;:ivrs — <>:^e vmiv — tnearin^ a celebrated 

CB. 11.] TUB MARK. 59 

around him under an appellation long recognized as 
heroic: or a leader, distinguished for his skill, his 
valour and success, bis power or superior wealth, 
may have found little difficulty in imposing the 
name of liis own race upon all who shared in his 
adventures. Thus Harlinga and Wa^lsings, names 
most intimately connected with the great epos of 
the Grermanic and Scandinavian races, are repro- 
duced in several localities in England : Billing, the 
noble progenitor of the royal race of Saxony, has 
more than one enduring record : and similarly, I 
believe all the local denominations of tlie early 
settlements to have arisen and been perpetuated'. 
So much light appears derivahle from a proper in- 
vestigation of these names, that I have collected 
them in an Appendix (A.) at the end of this vo- 
lume, to the contents of which the reader's atten- 
tion is invited*. 

' TheHiu-Ujig<,iiiAnglouxonHeretingBs(Tr&v.gDng,1.224)i Hu- 
t lui^e, (W. GnniDi, Di^ut. Ileldensage, p. 2S0, etc.,) are found at Hu- 
I, ling in Norfolk and KunC, and at Harlingtoa (Hcrelingatun) in Bedford- 
l' ifaire anil MicliUeiex. 11ieWa:liing«, in Old NorKVoUungHTitho family 
' ' of Sigtirdr or Siv^clVied, reappear at WaUinghftm in Norfolk, Woldng- 
I ham in Northumberland, and Wooliingbnm in Diirliam. Tba Billing*, 
' at Billingc. UiUingLtun, Billinghoe, BilUnghurat, Billiugdeu, BiUington, 

and many other plnciw. ^e Appendix A. 
I ' Tbeic local denominatiiiDa are for tht; most port irregular compo- 

fitiona, of nhicb the former portion is a patronymic in -iug or -ling, 
declineil in the genitiie plural. The second portion ii a mere defini- 
tian of the locahty, a» 'geat, -hynt, -hum, -vtic, -tun, -stcde, and the 
like. In a few com the patronymie standi alone in the nominative 
plural, ai Tutingas, Tooting, Surrey; Wocingas, Woking, Surrey t 
UeaUingai, Mailing, Kent ; Wetieringai, Wittering, iiuiaex. In a itiU 
raialler number, the name of the eponymua replaces tlut of hi* detcend' 
■Uta. ■■ Finnet burb, Finibury ; WkIkb ham, Walibam, in Norfolk ; 
in which lait name, as well at in WiEbea eafora (Beowulf, 1. 1767), Wfl 


In looking over this list we are immediately 
struck with a remarkable repetition of various 
names, some of which are found at once in several 
counties ; and most striking are those which, like the 
examples already alluded to, give a habitation upon 
our own shores to the races celebrated in the poetical 
or historical records of other ages and other lands. 
There are indeed hardly any enquiries of deeper 
interest, than those whose tendency is to link the 
present with the past in the bonds of a mythical 
tradition ; or which present results of greater im- 
portance to him who has studied the modes of 
thought and action of populations at an early stage 

hmre a record of the progenitor of the WdsmgSy who b alike nnknowB 
to the ScandiiuTiin and the German legends of that noUe raee. Li 
dealing, however, with these names, some amount of caution is neeea- 
saiy : it is by no means enough that a word should end in -ing, to 
conreit it into a genuine patron}-mic. On the contrary it is a power of 
that termination to denote the geniUTe or possessire, which is also the 
generative, case : and in some local names we do find it so used : thus 
.£i$elwulfing lend (Cod. Dipl. No. 179, a. 801) is exactly equivalent to 
.£$elwulfes lond, the estate of a duke .£5elwulf, not of a family called 
.£5elwulfings. So again, t^ct Folcwining lond (Cod. Dipl. No. 195, 
a. 811\ 5apt Wynhearding lond ^Cod. Dipl. No. 195, a. 811), imply the 
land of Folcwine, of Wynheard, not of marks or families called Fole- 
winings and Wynheardings. Woolbedington, Wool Lavington, Bar- 
lavington, are respectively WulflMcding tun, Wulflafing tun, Be^lifii^ 
tun, the tun or dwelling of Wulflaf, Wulfbaed and BeorUf. Between 
such words and genuine patron^-mics the line must carefully be drawn, 
a task which requires both skill and experience : the best security is, 
where we find the patron\-mic in the genitive plural : but one can very 
generally judge whether the name is such as to have arisen in the way 
described above, from a genitive singular. Changes for the sake of 
euphony must also be guarded against, as sources of error : thus Abing- 
don in Berks would impel us strongly to assume a family of Abingas ; 
the Saxon name ^bban dun convinces us that it was named from an 
£bba (m) or JEbbe \f). Dunnington is not Duninga ton, but Dunnan, 
that is Donna's ti&n. 

CH, 11.] 



of their career. The intimate relations of mytho- 
logy, law and social institutions, which later ages 
are too apt scornfully to despise, or superstitiously 
to imitate, are for them, liviog springs of action : 
they are believed in, not played with, as in the 
majority of revivals, from the days of Anytus and 
Melitus to our own ; and they form the hroad foun- 
dation upon which the whole social polity is esta- 
blished. The people who believe in heroes, origi- 
nally gods and always god-born, preserve a remem- 
hrance of their ancient deities In the gentile names 
by which themselves are distinguished, long after 
the rites they once paid to their divinities have 
fallen into disuse ; and it is this record of beings 
once hallowed, and a cult once offered, which they 
have bequeathed to us in many of the now unin- 
telligible names of the Marks. ^Taking these facts 
into account, I have no hesitation in affirming 
that the names of places found in the Anglosaxon 
charters, and yet extant in England, su^iply no 
trifling Hnks in the chain of evidence by which we 
demonstrate the existence among ourselves of a 
heathendom nearly allied to that of Scandinavia. 

The Wtclsings, the Volsungar of the Edda, and 
Volsungen of the German Heldensage, have al- 
ready been noticed in a cursory manner : they are 
the family whose hero is Siegfried or Sigurdr', the 
centre round which the Nibelungen epos circles. 
Another of their princes, Fitela, the Norse SintiOtli, 

' In Beowulf (1. IT'lS}, Sicgfricil ia replactil by Rigmund, his fiither. 
nere oocum his patronymital Eiipellatioii of WKlsiiig (1, 17-)7), and 
Waclses eafonHl. 1787). 


is recorded in the poem of Be6wulf ' , and from him 
appear to have been derived the Fitelingas, whose 
name survives in Fitting. 

The Herelingas or Harlings have also been no* 
ticed ; they are connected with the same great 
cycle, and are mentioned in the Traveller's Song, 
1. 224. As Harlingen in Friesland retains a record 
of the same name, it is possible that it may have 
wandered to the coast of Norfolk with the Bata- 
vian auxiliaries, numerus Batavorum^ who served 
under their own chiefs in Britain. The Swsefas, 
a border tribe of the Angles^, reappear at Swaff- 
ham. The Brentings^ are found again in Brenting- 
by. The Scyldings and Scylfings^, perhaps the most 
celebrated of the Northern races, give their names 
to Sk elding and Sbilvington. The Ardings, whose 
memorial is retained in Ardingley, Ardington and 
Ardingworth, are the Azdingi*, the royal race of 
the Visigoths and Vandals : a name which confirms 
the tradition of a settlement of Vandals in England. 
With these we probably should not confound the 
Heardingas,who have left their name toHardingham 
in Norfolk^. The Banings, over whom Becca ruled^, 
are recognized in Banningham ; the Haelsings* in 

' Lines 1752, 1772. » Trav. S. 1. 12L 

• Be6w. 1. 6610. * Ibid. 1. 60, 125, etc. 

* See ZeuM, p. 461 and pp. 73, lA ; especially his note upon p. 461, 
where he brings forward a good deal of evidence in favour of the form 

' The Rune poem nx% that Ing was first known among the EAit- 
danes, and that he was so named by the Heardings. This may refer 
to Norfolk: or must we read heardingas« beUatoresl See Anglos. 
Runes. Archaeolog. xxviii. 327> seq, 

7 Trav. S. 1. 37. • ftid. 1. 44. 

CK. II.] THE MARK. 68 

Helsington, and in the Swedish Helsingland^ : the 
Myrgings^y perhaps in Merring, and Merrington : 
the Hundings^, perhaps in Hunningham and Hun- 
nington : the Hdcings*, in Hucking : the Seringas* 
meet us again in Sharington, Sherington and She- 
ringham. The Dyringas^ in Thorington and Thor- 
rington, are likely to be offshoots of the great Her- 
munduric race, the Thyringi or Thoringi, now Thu- 
ringians, always neighbours of the Saxons. The 
Bleccingas, a race who probably gave name to 
Bleckingen in Sweden, are found in Bletchington» 
and Bletchingley. In the Gytingas, known to us 
from Guiting, we can yet trace the Alamannic tribe 
of the Juthungi, or Jutungi. Perhaps in the Scy- 
tingas or Scydingas, we may find another Alaman- 
nic tribe, the Scudingi^, and in the Dylingas, an 
Alpine or Highdutch name, the Tulingi®. The 
Waeringas are probably the Norman Vseringjar, 
whom we call Varangians. The Wylfingas^, another 
celebrated race, well known in Norse tradition, are 
recorded in Bedwulf^^ and the Traveller's Song". 

These are unquestionably no trivial coincidences; 
they assure us that there lies at the root of our land- 
divisions an element of the highest antiquity ; one 
too, by which our kinsmanship with the Northi 
german races is placed beyond dispute. But their 
analogy leads us to a wider induction: when we 

• Zenn, p. 544. » Tray. S. 1. 45. » Ibid. 1. 46. 
^ Ibid. 1. 57« perhaps the Chauci. ^ Ibid. 1. 150. 

• Ibid. 1. 60. 7 ZeuM, p. 584. « Ibid. pp. 226, 227. 

• Cod. Dipl. No. 1135. Wylfinga ford. '° Lines 916, 936. 

" Line 58. They are the Ylfingar of None tradition. Helg.Hund. 1.5. 


examine the list of names contained in the Appen- 
dix, we see at once how very few of these are identi- 
fied with the names recorded in Bedwulf and other 
poems : all that are so recorded, had probably be- 
longed to portions of the epic cycle ; but there is 
nothing in the names themselves to distinguish them 
from the rest ; nothing at least but the happy acci- 
dent of those poems, which were dedicated to their 
praise, having survived. In the lapse of years, how 
many similar records may have perished ! And may 
we not justly conclude that a far greater number 
of races might have been identified, had the Ages 
spared the songs in which they were sung ? 

" Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona 
Multi ; sed omnes inlachrymabiles 
Urgentur ignotique longa 
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro I " 

Whatever periods we assume for the division of 
the land into Marks, or to what cause soever we 
attribute the names adopted by the several commu- 
nities, the method and manner of their dispersion 
remains a question of some interest. The Appen- 
dix shows a most surprising distribution of some 
particular names over several counties ^ : but this 
seems conceivable only in two ways ; first, that the 
inhabitants of a Mark, finding themselves pressed 

' ^scings in Essex, Somerset and Sussex : Alings in Kent, Dorset, 
Devonshire and Lincoln : Ardings in Sussex, Berks and Northampton- 
shire : Arlings in Devonshire, Gloucestershire and Sussex : Banings in 
Hertfordshire, Kent, Lincolnshire and Salop: Headings in Norfolk, 
Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex and the Isle of Wight : Berings in Kent, De- 
vonshire, Herefordshire, Lincolnshire, Salop and Somerset : Billings in 
Bedfordshire, Durham, Kent, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North- 
amptonshire, Northumberland, Salop, Sussex and the Isle of Wight, etc. 

CH. n.] THE MARK. 65 

for room at home, migrated to other seats, and 
established a new comamnity under the old desig- 
nation ; or, secondly, that in the division of the 
newly conquered soil, men who had belonged to one 
community upon the continent, found themselves 
thrown into a state of separation here, either by the 
caprice of the lots, supposing their immigration 
simultaneous, or by the natural course of events, 
supposing one body to have preceded the other. 
Perhaps too we must admit the possibility of a 
dispersion arising from the dissolution of ancient 
confederacies, produced by internal war. On the 
whole I am disposed to look upon the second hy- 
pothesis as applicable to the majority of cases ; 
without presuming altogether to exclude the action 
of the first and third causes. It is no doubt diffi- 
cult to imagine that a small troop of wandering 
strangers should be allowed to traverse a settled 
country in search of new habitations. Yet, at first, 
there must have been abundance of land, which 
conduct and courage might wring from its Keltic 
owners. Again, how natural on the other hand ia 
it, that in the confusion of conquest, or the dila- 
tory course of gradual occupation, men once united 
should find their lot cast apart, and themselves 
divided into distant commuuities ! Nor in this can 
we recognize anything resembling the solemn plant- 
ing of a Grecian, far less of a Roman, colony ; or 
suppose that any notion of a common origin sur- 
vived to nourish feelings of friendship between bo- 
dies of men, so established in different lands. Even 
had Buch traditions originally prevailed, they must 


soon have perished, when the Marks coalesced into 
the Gd or Shire, and several of the latter became 
included in one kingdom. New interests and 
duties must then have readily superseded maxims 
which belonged to an almost obsolete organiza- 

But in truth, to this question of dispersion and 
relationship, considered in its widest generality, 
there is no limit either of place or time : it derives, 
indeed, some of its charm from the very vagueness 
which seems to defy the efforts of the historian : 
and even the conviction that a positive and scien- 
tific result is unattainable, does not suffice to re- 
press the anxiety with which we strive to lift the 
veil of our Isis. The question of every settlement, 
large or small, ultimately resolves itself into that of 
the original migrations of mankind. Unless we 
can bring ourselves to adopt the hypothesis of 
autochthonous populations, — an hypothesis whose 
vagueness is not less than attaches to a system of 
gradual, but untraced, advances, — we must fall 
back from point to point, until we reach one start- 
ing-place and one origin. Every family that squats 
upon the waste, assumes the existence of two fami- 
lies from which it sprang : every household, com- 
prising a man and woman, if it is to be fruitful and 
continue, presupposes two such households ; each 
of these continues to represent two more, in a geo- 
metrical progression, whose enormous sum and final 
result are lost in the night of ages. The solitary 
who wanders away into the uncultivated waste, and 
there by degrees rears a family, a tribe and a state. 

CH. n.] THE MA&K« 67 

takes with him the traditions, the dispositions, the 
knowledge and the ideas, which he had derived 
from others, in tarn equally indebted to their pre** 
decessors. This state of society, if society it can 
be called, is rarely exhibited to our observation. 
The backwoodsman in America, or the settler in an 
Australian bush, may furnish some means of jud- 
ging such a form of civilization ; and the traditions 
of Norway and Iceland dimly record a similar pro- 
cess: but the solitary labourer, whose constant 
warfare with an exulting and exuberant nature does 
little more than assure him an independent exist- 
ence, has no time to describe the course and the 
result of his toils : and the progress of the modern 
settler is recorded less by himself, than by a civi- 
lized society, whose offset he is ; which watches 
his fortunes with interest and judges them with in- 
telligence ; which finds in his career the solution of 
problems that distract itself, and never forgets that 
he yet shares in the cultivation he has left behind 

Still the manner in which such solitary house- 
holds gradually spread over and occupy a country, 
must be nearly the same in all places, where they 
exist at all. The family increases in number ; the 
arable is extended to provide food; the pasture 
is pushed further and further as the cattle multi- 
ply, or as the grasslands become less productive. 
Along the banks of the river which may have at- 
tracted the feelings or the avarice of the wanderer, 
which may have guided his steps in the untracked 
wilderness, or supplied the road by which he 



journeyed, the footsteps of civilization move up- 
ward : till, reaching the rising ground from which 
the streams descend on either side, the vanguards 
of two parties meet, and the watershed becomes 
their boundary, and the place of meeting for religi- 
ous or political purposes. Meantime, the ford, the 
mill, the bridge have become the nucleus of a vil- 
lage, and the blessings of mutual intercourse and 
family bonds have converted the squatters' settle- 
ment into a centre of wealth and happiness. And 
in like manner is it, where a clearing in the forest, 
near a spring or welP, — divine, for its uses to man, 
— has been made ; and where, by slow degrees, the 
separated families discover each other, and find 
that it is not good for man to be alone. 

This description, however, will not strictly apply 
to numerous or extensive cases of settlement, al- 
though some analogy may be found, if we substi- 
tute a tribe for the family. Continental Germany 
has no tradition of such a process ; and we may 
not unjustly believe the records of such in Scandi- 
navia to have arisen from the wanderings of an- 
quiet spirits, impatient of control or rivalry, of cri- 
minals shrinking from the consequences of their 
guilt, or of descendants dreading the blood-fead 
inherited from ruder progenitors. But although 
systematic and religious colonization, like that of 
Greece, cannot be assumed to have prevailed, we 
may safely assert that it was carried on far more 

* Water seems tlie indispensable condition of a settlement in any pait 
of tbe world : hence, in part, the wonhip paid to it. It is the rtry 
kej to the histofT of the East. 

CH. It.] THE HARK. 69 

regularly, and upon more strict principles than are 
compatible with capricious and individual settle- 
ment '. Tradition here and there throws light 
upon the causes by which bodies of men were im- 
pelled to leave their ancient habitations, and seek 
new seats in more fruitful or peaceful districts. 
The emi^iration represented by Hengest has been 
attributed to a famine at home, and even the grave 
authority of history has countenanced the belief 
that liis keels were driven into exUe : thus far we 
may assume his adventure to have been made with 
the participation, if not by the authority, of the 
parent state. 

In general we may admit the division of a con- 
quered country, such as Britain was, to have been 
conducted upon settled principles, derived from the 
actual position of the conquerors. As an army 
they had obtained possession, and as an army they 
distributed the booty which rewarded their valour. 
That they nevertheless continued to occupy the 
land as families or cognationes, resulted from the 
method of their enrolment in the field itself, where 
each kindred was drawn up under an officer of 
its own lineage and appointment, and the several 
members of the family served together. But such a 

' The lolemn Hpportionment of landg and dwellings is nowhere more 
obnouB, or describcil in more instructive detail, than in Denmark. 
tiorymy and tbo Sivcihsh bordcrlawla may have otTercd more numc- 
ron« initancei of gDlit4kry settling. The inanncr of diatributinic the 
Tillage land is called Si^lskipt or Sc^iskipti : the provisioni of this law 
•re given by Grimm, Rcchtsall, ]i. 53!t. There is an interesting aecouiit 
of tbe formalities uie<l upon the 6rst colonization of Icehind, in Guijer, 
Hut. of Sweden, i. 169. (German truulatiau of 1826.) 


distribution of the land as should content the various 
small communities that made up the whole force, 
could only be ensured by the joint authority of the 
leaders, the concurrence of the families themselves, 
and the possession of a sufficient space for their 
extension, undisturbed by the claims of former oc- 
cupants, and suited to the wants of its new masters. 
What difficulties, what jealousies preceded the ad- 
justment of all claims among the conquerors, we 
cannot hope to learn, or by what means these were 
met and reconciled : but the divisions themselves, 
so many of whose names I have collected, prove 
that, in some way or other, the problem was suc- 
cessfully solved. 

On the natural clearings in the forest, or on 
spots prepared by man for his own uses ; in valleys, 
bounded by gentle acclivities which poured down 
fertilizing streams ; or on plains which here and 
there rose, clothed with verdure, above surround- 
ing marshes ; slowly and step by step, the warlike 
colonists adopted the habits and developed the cha- 
racter of peaceful agriculturists. The towns which 
had been spared in the first rush of war, gradually 
became deserted, and slowly crumbled to the soil, 
beneath which their ruins are yet found from time 
to time, or upon which shapeless masses yet remain, 
to mark the sites of a civilization, whose bases were 
not laid deep enough for eternity. All over Eng- 
land there soon existed a network of communities, 
the principle of whose being was separation, as re- 
garded each other : the most intimate union, as re- 
spected the individual members of each. Agricul- 

CH. II.] THE BdARK. 71 

tural, not commercial, dispersed, not centralized, 
content within their own limits and little given to 
wandering, they relinquished in a great degree the 
habits and feelings which had united them as mili- 
tary adventurers ; and the spirit which had achieved 
the conquest of an empire, was now satisfied with 
the care of maintaining inviolate a little peaceful 
plot, sufficient for the cultivation of a few simple 




Next in order of constitution, if not of time, is the 
union of two, three or more Marks in a federal 
bond for purposes of a religious, judicial or even 
political character. The technical name for such 
a union is in Germany, a Gau or Bant' ; in Eng- 
land the ancient name Ga has been almost univer- 
sally superseded by that of Scir or Shire. For the 
most part the natural divisions of the country are 
the divisions also of the Ga ; and the size of this 
depends upon such accidental limits as well as upon 
the character and dispositions of the several collec- 
tive bodies which we have called Marks. 

The Ga is the second and final form of unsevered 
possession ; for every larger aggregate is but the re- 
sult of a gradual reduction of such districts, under 
a higher political or administrative unity, different 
only in degree and not in kind from what prevailed 
individually in each. The kingdom is only a larger 
Ga than ordinary ; indeed the Ga itself was the 
original kingdom. 

But the unsevered possession or property which 

' Less usual are £iba and Para. The Xorse Uerrad may in some 
sense be compared with these divisions. 

CU. III.] 



we thus find in the Ga is by no means to be consi- 
dered in the same light as that which has been de- 
scribed in the Mark. The inhabitants are settled 
as Markmen, not as Ga-men : the cuUivated land 
which Ues within the hmits of the larger commu- 
nity is all distributed into the smaller ones. 

As the Mark contained within itself the means of 
doing right between man and man, i. e. its Mark- 
mot ; as it had its principal officer or judge, and 
beyond a doubt its priest and place of religious ob- 
servances, so the County, Scir or Ga had all these 
on a larger and more imposing scale ; and thus it 
was enabled to do right between Mark and Mark, 
as well as between man and man, and to decide 
tbose diiferences the arrangement of which trans- 
cended the powers of the smaller body. If the 
elders and leaders of the Mark could settle the 
mode of conducting the internal affairs of their dis- 
tinct, so the elders and leaders of the Ga (the same 
leading markmen in a corporate capacity} could 
decide upon the weightier causes that affected the 
whole community ; and thus the Scirgemot or 
Shiremoot was the completion of a system of which 
the Mearcmifit was the foundation. Similarly, as 
the several smaller units had arrangements on a cor- 
responding scale for divine service, so the greater 
and more important religious celebrations in which 
all the Marks took part, could only be performed 
under the auspices and by the authority of the Ga. 
Thus alone could due provision be made for sacri- 
fices which would have been too onerous for a small 
and poor district, and an equalization of burthens 

74 TH£ SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

be effected ; i^vhile the machinery of government 
and efficient means of protection were secured. 

At these great religious rites, accompanied as they 
ever were by the solemn Ding, placitum or court, 
thrice in the year the markmen assembled unbid- 
den : and here they transacted the ordinary and rou- 
tine business required. On emergencies however, 
which did not brook delay, the leaders could issue 
their peremptory summons to a bidden Ding, and 
in this were then decided the measures necessary 
for the maintenance and well-being of the commu- 
nity, and the mutual guarantee of life and honour. 
To the Gd then probably belonged, as an unsevered 
possession, the lands necessary for the site and 
maintenance of a temple, the supply of beasts for 
sacrifice, and the endowment of a priest or priests : 
perhaps also for the erection of a stockade or for- 
tress, and some shelter for the assembled freemen 
in the Ding. Moreover, if land existed which from 
any cause had not been included within the limits 
of some Mark, we may believe that it became the 
public property of the Ga, i. e. of all the Marks in 
their corporate capacity : this at least may be in- 
ferred from the rights exercised at a comparatively 
later period over waste lands, by the constituted 
authorities, the Duke, Count or King. 

Accident must more or less have determined the 
seat of the Gd-jurisdiction : perhaps here and there 
some powerful leading Mark, already in the pos- 
session of a holy site, may have drawn the neigh- 
bouring settlers into its territory : but as the pos- 
session and guardianship of the seat of government 



could not but lead to the vindication of certain 
privileges and material advantages to its holders, 
it is not unreasonable to believe that where the 
Marks coalesced on equal terms, the temple-lands 
would be placed without the pecuUar territorial 
possession of each, as they often were in Greece, 
upon the ca-^aTia or boundary -land. On the sum- 
mit of a range of hills, whose valleys sufficed for 
the cultivation of the raarkmen, on the watershed 
from which the fertiUzing streams descended, at 
the point where the boundaries of two or three com- 
munities touched one another, was the proper place 
for the common periodical assemblages of the free 
men: and such sites, marked even to this day by 
a few venerable oaks, may be observed in various 
parts of England'. 

The description which has been given might seem 
at first more properly to relate to an abstract poli- 
tical unity than to a real and territorial one : no 
doubt the most important quality of the Ga or Scir 
was its power of uniting distinct populations for 
public purposes : in this respect it resembled the 
shire, while t!ie sheriffs court was still of some im- 
portance ; or even yet, where the judges coming 
on their circuit, under a commission, hold a shire- 
moot or court in each shire for gaol -delivery. Yet 
the Shire is a territorial division ^ as well as an abs- 
tract and merely legal formulary, although all the 

' There are instances which show thnt ihe cuatom, nfWrwarils kept 
up, of "Tiyiting Trees," was an ancient one. Probnbly atnae great 
tnci niATked the ^itc of the several juriddiFtJotis : 1 tioil mentioned the 
■^rie, the hnnilreiles trefiw and the meorcbe&m. 

* The Gau itself hmd a mark or buundv}-. Deut. Rechtsalt. p. 4U(i. 


land comprised within it is divided into parishes, 
hamlets, vills and liberties. 

Strictly speaking, the Shire, apart from the units 
that make it up, possesses little more land than 
that which the town-hall, the gaol, or the hospital 
may cover. When for the two latter institu^ 
tions we substitute the fortress of the king, and 
a cathedral, which was the people's and not the 
bishop's, we have as nearly as possible the Anglo- 
saxon shire-property, and the identity of the two 
divisions seems proved. Just as the G& (pagus) 
contains the Marks {vicos), and the territory of 
them all, taken together, makes up the territory of 
the Ga, so does the Shire contain hamlets, parishes 
and liberties, and its territorial expanse is distri- 
buted into them. As then the word Mark is used 
to denote two distinct things, — a territorial division 
and a corporate body, — so does the word G6 or 
Scir denote both a machinery for government and 
a district in which such machinery prevails. The 
number of Marks included in a single Gd must have 
varied partly with the variations of the land itself, 
its valleys, hills and meadows : to this cause may 
have been added others arising, to some extent, 
from the original military organization and distri- 
bution, from the personal character of a leader, or 
from the peculiar tenets and customs of a particular 
Mark. But proximity, and settlement upon the 
same land, with the accompanying participation 
in the advantages of wood and water, are ever the 
most active means of uniting men in religious and 
social communities ; and it is therefore reasonable 


to believe that the influence most felt in the ar- 
rangement of the several Gas was in fact a territo- 
rial one^ depending upon the natural conformation 
of the country. 

Some of the modern shire-divisions of England 
in all probability have remained unchanged from 
the earliest times ; so that here and there a now 
existent Shire may be identical in territory with an 
ancient Gd. But it may be doubted whether this 
observation can be very extensively applied : ob- 
scure as is the record of our old divisions, what 
little we know, favours the supposition that the ori- 
ginal Gds were not only more numerous than our 
Shires, but that these were not always identical in 
their boundaries with those Gas whose locality can 
be determined. 

The policy or pedantry of Norman chroniclers 
has led them to pass over in silence the names 
of the ancient divisions, which nevertheless were 
known to them^ Wherever they have occasion to 
refer to our Shires, they do so by the names they 
still bear ; thus Florence of Worcester and Malms- 
bury, name to the south of the Humber, Kent, 
Wiltshire, Berkshire, Dorset, Sussex, Southamp- 
ton, Surrey, Somerset, Devonshire, Cornwall, Glou- 
cester, Worcester, Warwick, Cheshire, Derby, Staf- 
ford, Shropshire, Hereford, Oxford, Buckingham, 

1 '* £t ne longum fjociam, sigillatim enumeratis proyinciis quas vas- 
tayenint, hoc sit ad siimmam complecti, quod, cum numercntiu* in 
Anglia triginta duo pagi, illi iam sedecim invaserant, quorum nomina 
propter barbariem linguae scribere refiigio." Gul. Meld. Gest. Reg. 
lib. n. $ 165. 


Hertford, Huntingdon, Bedford, Northampton, Lei« 
cester, Lincoln, Nottingham, Cambridge, Norfolk, 
Suffolk and Essex, comprising with Middlesex 
thirty-two of the shires, out of forty into which 
England is now distributed. 

Yet even these names and divisions are of great 
antiquity : Asser, in his life of iElfred, mentions by 
name, Berkshire, Essex, Kent, Surrey, Somerset, 
Sussex, Lincoln, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire and 
Southampton, being a third of the whole number : 
unfortunately, from his work being composed in 
Latin and his consequent use of pagUy we cannot 
tell how many of these divisions were considered 
by him as Scir. 

The Saxon Chronicles, during the period ante- 
rior to the reign of -Alfred, seem to know only 
the old general divisions : thus we have Cantwara 
land, Kent^ ; Westseaxan, Su^seaxan, Edstseaxan, 
Middelseaxan, Wessex, Sussex, Essex, Middlesex : 
Eastengle, Eastanglia : Nor^anhymbra land, Sd- 
^anhymbra land, Myrcna land, Northumberland, 
Southumberland, Mercia : Lindisware and Lindisse, 
Lincolnshire : Sii^rige, Surrey ; Wiht, the Isle of 
Wight ; Hwiccas, the Hwiccii in Gloucestershire 
and Worcestershire*; Merscware, the people of 
Romney Marsh: Wilsaetan, Donisaetan and Sumor- 
scetan, Wiltshire, Somersetshire and Dorsetshire*. 

* The division of Kent into East Ccntiugas and West Ccntingaa is 
retained by the charters till late in the eleventh century. 

" " CiiTcnceaster adiit, qui Britannice Cairceri nominatur, quae est 
m meridiana parte Iluicciorum." Asser, Vit. ^Elfr. an. 8/9. 

* Where the countr}' is considered as a territorial division, rather 
than with reference to the race that possesses it, instead of sietaii or 

OB. III.] THE 6A' OR SCrR. 79 

But after the time of .Alfred, the different ma« 
nuscripts of the Chronicles usually adopt the word 
Scir, in the same places as we do, and with the same 
meaning. Thus we find, Bearrucscir, Bedanford- 
scir, Buccingahdmscir, Defenascir, De6rabyscir, 
Eoforwicscir, Gledwanceasterscir, Grantabrycgscir, 
Hamtunscir (Southampton), Hamtunscir (North- 
ampton), Heortfordscir, Herefordscir, Huntandun- 
scir, Legeceasterscir, Lindicolnascir, Oxnafordscir, 
Scrobbesbyrigscir (but also Scrobsetan), Snotinga- 
hdmscir, Staeffordscir, Waeringwlcscir or Waering- 
scir, Wigraceasterscir, and . Wiltunscir : Middel- 
seaxe, Edstseaxe, Su^seaxe, Su^rige and Cent re- 
main : Edstengle is not divided into Norfolk and 
Suffolk. Thus, out of the thirty-two shires south 
of the Humber, which Florence and Malmsbury 
mention, the Chronicles note twenty-six, of which 
twenty-one are distinguished as shires by the word 

In Beda nothing of the kind is to be found : the 
general scope of his Ecclesiastical History rendered 
it unnecessary for him to descend to minute details, 
and besides the names of races and kingdoms, he 
mentions few divisions of the land. Still he notices 
the Provincia Huicciorum : the Middelangli or 
Angli Mediterranei, a portion of the Mercians : the 
Mercii Australes and Aquilonales : the Regio Suder- 
geona or Surrey : the Regio Loidis or Elmet near 
York : the Provincia Meanwarorum, or Hundreds 

I, the settlers y we have ssete, the land settled ; thus Sumorssete. So 
Edfltseaxe for Eaatseaxan or Eastseaxna land; Cent for Centingas or 
Cantware ; Lindisse for Lindiswaxe. 

80 THE 8AX0NS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of East and West Meon in Southampton ; the Regie 
Gyrwiorum in which Peterborough lies, and dis- 
tinct from this, the Australes Gyrwii or South 

The Appendix to the Chronicles of Florence of 
Worcester supplies us with one or two names of 
small districts, not commonly found in other au- 
thors. One of these is the Mercian district of the 
Westangles or West Hecan, ruled over by Mere- 
wald ; in whose country were the Msegsetan, or 
people of Hereford, who are sometimes reckoned 
to the Hwiccas, or inhabitants of Worcester and 
Gloucester \ Another, the Middleangles, had its 
bishopric in Leicester : the Southangles, whose bi- 
shop sat at Dorchester in Oxfordshire, consequently 
comprised the counties down to the Thames. The 
Northangles or Mercians proper had their bishop 
in Lichfield. Lastly we know that Malmsbury in 
Wiltshire was in Provincia Septonia*. 

But we are not altogether without the means of 
carrying this enquiry further. We have a record 
of the divisions which must have preceded the dis- 
tribution of this country into shires : they are un- 
fortunately not numerous, and the names are gene- 
rally very difficult to explain: they have so long 
become obsolete, that it is now scarcely possible to 
identify them. Nor need this cause surprise, when 
we compare the oblivion into which they have fal- 

^ " Civitas Wigomia . . . . ct tunc et nunc totius Hwicciae vel Mage- 
■etaniae metropolis extitit famosa." App. Flor. Wigorn., Episc Hwic- 

' Vit. Aldh. Whart. Ang. Sax. ii. 3. 

CB. m.] THB OA' OR SCIIL 81 

len with the sturdy resistance offered by the names 
of the Marks, and their long continuance through- 
out all the changes which have befallen our race. 
The Gras, which were only political bodies, became 
readily swallowed up and lost in shires and king- 
doms : the Marks, which had an individual being, 
and as it were personality of their own, passed 
easily from one system of aggregations to another, 
without losing an3rthing of their peculiar character : 
and at a later period it will be seen that this indi- 
viduality became perpetuated by the operation of 
our ecclesiastical institutions. 

A very important document is printed by Sir 
Henry Spdman in his Glossary, under the head 
Hida. In its present condition it is comparatively 
modem, but many of the entries supply us with 
information obviously derived from the most re- 
mote antiquity, and these it becomes proper to 
take into consideration. The document seems to 
have been intended as a guide either to the taxation 
or the military force of the kingdom, and professes 
to give the number of hides of land contained in 
the various districts. It runs as follows h 



Myrcna continet 


Lindesfarona . , 

, 7000 

Wokensetna . . 


Su^ Gyrwa . . 


Westema . . . 


Nor^ Gyrwa . , 


Pecsetna . . . 


East Wixna . , 


Elmedsetna . . 


West Wixna . . 


* I have not adhered strictly to Spehnan's copy, the details of which 
are in aerend cases incorrect, bat have collated others where it seemed 

VOL. I. Q 



[book t« 

Wigesta . 
Herefinna . 
Eysla . . 
Hwicca . 
Wihtgara . 
Noxga ga . 
Obtga gd . 
Hwynca . 
Hendrica . 














Unecunga . 
Belmiga . . 
Wi^eringa . 
EastWilla . 
West WiUa . 
EastEngle . 
Edst Seaxoa. 
Cantwarena . 
Su^ Seaxna . 
West Seaxna 


. 1200 

. 600 

. 300 


. 600 



. 30000 

. 7000 

. 15000 

. 7000 


The entries respecting Mercia, Eastanglia and 
Wessex could hardly belong to any period anterior 
to that of -Alfred. For Mercia previous to the 
Danish wars must certainly have contained more 
than 30,000 hides : while Eastanglia cannot have 
reached so large a sum till settled by GuKorm's 
Danes : nor is it easy to believe that Wessex, apart 
from Kent and Sussex, should have numbered 
one hundred thousand in the counties of Surrey, 
Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, with parts of Berk- 
shire, Somerset and Devon, much before the time 
of iE^elstan'. A remarkable variation is found 
between the amounts stated in this list and 
those given by Beda, as respects some of the en- 
tries : thus Mercia, here valued at 30,000 hides, is 
reckoned in the Ecclesiastical History at 12,000 

1 The total sum thus reckoned is 243,600 hides. 

' About the year 647, Wessex numbered only 9000 hide«« 

CH. lu.] THE GA' OB SCFR. 83 

only*: Hwiccas are reckoned at 300: they con- 
tained 600 hides; Wight, reckoned at 600, con- 
tained 1200. On the other hand Kent and Sussex 
are retained at the ancient valuation. 

It is nevertheless impossible to doubt that the 
greater number of the names recorded in this list 
are genuine, and of the highest antiquity. A few 
of them can be recognized in the pages of very 
early writers: thus Gyrwa, Elmet, Lindisfaran, 
Wihtgare, and Hwiccas, are mentioned by Beda in 
the eighth century. Some we are still able to iden- 
tify with modern districts. 

Mercia I imagine to be that portion of Burgred's 
kingdom, which upon its division by the victorious 
Danes in 874, they committed as a tributary royalty 
to Ce61wulf; which subsequently came into the 
hands of -Alfred, by the treaty of Wedmor in 878, 
and was by him erected into a duchy under his 
daughter iE^elflsed, and her husband. Wocensetna 
may possibly be the Gd of the Wrocensetan, the 
people about the Wrekin or hill-country of Somer- 
set, Dorset and Devon. The Pecsetan appear to be 
the inhabitants of the Peakland, or Derbyshire : the 
Elmedsetan, those of Elmet, the ancient British 
Loidis, an independent district in Yorkshire : Lin- 
disfaran are the people of Lindisse, a portion of 
Ldncolnshire : North and South Gyrwa were pro- 
bably in the Mark between Eastanglia and Mercia : 

* The twelve thouBand hides counted hy Beda (Hist. Eccl. iii. 24) to 
the Soath and North Mercians may however he exclusive of the We8t« 
angles and other parts of the great Mercian kingdom. 



as Peterborough was in North Gyrwa land, this 
must have comprised a part of Northamptonshire : 
and M^eVSry^ derived her right to Ely from her 
first husband, a prince of the South Gyrwians ; this 
district is therefore supposed to have extended over 
apartofCambridgeshireandtheisleofEly. Spalda 
may be the tract stretching to the north-east of 
these, upon the river \Velland, in which still lies 
Spalding. The Hwiccas occupied Worcestershire 
and Gloucestershire ^ and perhaps extended into 
Herefordshire, to the west of the Severn. The 
Wihtgaras are the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight ; 
and the Ciltenisetan were the people who owned 
the hill and forest land about the Chiltems, verging 
towanis Oxfordshire, and very probably in the 
Mark between Mercia and Wessex. 

I fear that it will be impossible to identify any 
more of these names, and it does not appear pro- 
bable that they supply us with anything like a com- 
plete catalogue of the English Gas. Setting aside 
the tact« that no notice seems to be taken of Nor- 
thumberland, save the mention of the little princi- 
pality of Elmet, and that the local divisions of 
EastangUa, Kent, Esssex, Sussex and Wessex, are 
passevi over in the genenl names of the kingdoms, 
we kx4L in vain amonc them for names, known to 
XJBS trom other sources, and which can haidtv have 

» Weswx V« £hr nhuneik lai tiW im jfi C 



been other than those of Gag. Thus we have no 
mention of the Tonsetan, whose district lay appa- 
rently upon the banks of the Severn ' ; of the Mean- 
ware, or land of the Jutes, in Hampshire; of the 
Masgsetan, or West Hecan, in Herefordshire ; of the 
Merscware in West Kent ; or of the Gedingas, who 
occupied a tract in the province of Middlesex*. 
Although it is possible that these divisions are in- 
cluded in some of the larger units mentioned in our 
list, they still furnish an argument that the names 
of the Gas were much more numerous than they 
would appear from the list itself, and that this 
marks only a period of transition. 

It is clear that when Malmsbury mentions thirty- 
two shires as making up the whole of England, he 
intends only England south of the Humber. The 
list we have been examining contains thirty-four 
entries ; of all the names therein recorded, one 
only can be shown to lie to the north of that river : 
from this however it is not unreasonable to suppose 
that the whole of England is iatended to be com- 
prised in the catalogue. Even admitting this, we 
cannot but conclude that these divisions were more 
numerous than our shires, seeing that large districts, 
such as Mereia, Wessex and Eastanglia, are entered 
only under one general head respectively. 

The origin of the Ga in the federal union of two 
or more Marks is natural, and must be referred to 
periods far anterior to any historical record : that 
of the division into Shires, as well as the period 
at which this arose, are less easily determined. 
' Cod. Dipl. No. 261. ' Cod. Dipl. No. 101. 


But we have evidence that some division into shires 
was known in Wessex as early as the end of the 
seventh or beginning of the eighth centory, since 
Ini provides for the case where a plaintiff cannot 
obtain justice from his shireman or judge ^ ; and 
the same prince declares that if an. ealdorman com- 
pounds a felony, he shall forfeit his shire* ; while 
he further enacts that no man shall secretly with- 
draw from his lord into another shire'. As it will 
be shown hereafter that a territorial jurisdiction is 
inseparably connected with the rank of a duke or 
ealdorman, I take the appearance of these officers 
in Mercia, during the same early period, to be evi- 
dence of the existence of a similar division there. 
Its cause appears to me to lie in the consolidation 
of the royal power. As long as independent asso- 
ciations of freemen were enabled to maintain their 
natural hberties, to administer their own affairs un- 
disturbed by the power of strangers, and by means 
of their own private alliances to defend their terri- 
tories and their rights, the old division into Gis 
might continue to exist. But the centralization of 
power in the hands of the king impUes a more ar- 
tificial system. It is more convenient for judicial 
and administrative purposes, more profitable, and 
more safe for the ruler, to have districts gOTcmed 
by his own ofiicers, and in which a territorial unity 
shall supersede the old bonds of kinsmanship : cen- 
tralization is hardly compatible with family tradi- 
tion. The members of the Gii met as associated 

• Im. § S. Thoqw, i. !♦>>. - Im, $ 36. Thorpe, I 124. 

' Ini. 4 o9. Tbofpe, i. Ii6. 


freemen, under the guidance of their own natural 
leaders, and formed a substantive unit or small 
state, which might, or might not, stand in relations 
of amity to similar states. The Shire was a poli- 
tical division, presided over by an appointed officer, 
forming part only of a general system, and no longer 
endowed with the high political rights of self-govern- 
ment, in their fullest extent. I can imagine the Gd, 
but certainly not the Shire, declaring war against 
a neighbour. As long as the Gd could maintain 
itself as a little republic, principality, or even king- 
dom, it might subsist unscathed : but as the smaller 
kings were rooted out, their lands and people in- 
corporated with larger unions, and powerful mon- 
archies rose upon their ruins, it is natural that a 
system of districts should arise, based entirely upon 
a territorial division. Such districts, without pecu- 
liar, individual character of their own, or principle 
of internal cohesion, must have appeared less dan- 
gerous to usurpation than the ancient gentile ag- 




Possession of a certain amount of land in the di- 
strict was the indispensable condition of enjoying 
the privileges and exercising the rights of a free- 
man \ There is no trace of such a qualification as 


' Etvsi till the ktifst pericd. jMnonal [■up e iu wsi not irrt oe cJ m 
iKe dbUMtMB of ivrIlss «hboii|!)i land vms. No ■ ■ iint of Biere th^ 
tich^s pMU nKvr* or |e«x>d»« ronld f^^iY tlK Sasoa InBcfane. See Ike 
MduMMx^ Be Vrn^UioEu § U\ Be C Ottgg^oi, § :2. TWoqie, L 189. 
l!^l. TW » « AtaiibsM«tU phwspNe ci Ttmtmit htm : ** Ut 
hSmuM wne xaoitxh <«ta:iac hontt 

jett ag g ma : rercsin x* tiu^ v-cb: Vi» iec ?>•.*« x £r.i 
r*/ .-(}in'<«a«f nc imi s^ ^vr ksost's jk. 

r*hki: iiB*\»- 'aK>«;^i i '•juari **uK:r'* luuc 
yf cuiAic i lufedk ir iaa. wci v*ui a £fau« 

CB. IV.] 


constituted citizenship at Athens or Rome : among 
our forefathers, the exclusive idea of the city had 
indeed no sway. They formed voluntary associa- 
tions upon the land, for mutual benefit ; the quali- 
fication by birth, as far as it could be of any im- 
portance, was inferred from the fact of admission 
among the community ; and gelondan, or those who 
occupied the same land, were taken to be connected 
in blood'. An inquiry into the pedigree of a man 
who presented himself to share in the perils of the 
conquest or the settlement, would assuredly have 
appeared superfluous ; nor was U more likely to be 
made, when secure enjoyment came to reward the 
labours of invasion. In fact the Germanic settle- 
ments, whether in their origin isolated or collective, 
are based throughout upon the idea of common 
property in laud. It is not the city, but the coun- 
try, that regulates their form of life and social in- 
stitutions : as Tacitus knew them, they bore in ge- 
neral the character of disliking cities r " It is well 
enough known," he says, " that none of the Ger- 
man populations dwell in cities ; nay that they 
will not even suffer continuous building, and house 
joined to house. They live apart, each by himself, 
as the woodside, the plain or the fresh spring at- 
tracted him"*. Thus the Germanic community is 
in some sense adstricta glebae, bound to the soil : 

' In MS. {ilouaries we find gelondan reuilered hy fratratles. In ad- 
vanced penoda only ran there be a dutinction between the familjr, and 
the local, distribution! : Suidas. citing Xanthua, says the Lydinns made 
A (olemn supplication to the f^Aa, Ttayytyti ti m! irai^ij/icf. See Nie- 
bufar on the Patrician Hoiues, i. 367. 

' Mor. Germ. c. 16, 


its members are sharers in the arable, the forest and 
the marsh, the waters and the pastures : their bond 
of union is a partnership in the advantages to be 
derived from possession of the land, an individual 
interest in a conmion benefit. 

The district occupied by a body of new setders 
was divided by lot in various proportions \ Yet it 
is certain that not all the land was so distributed ; 
a quantity sufficient to supply a proper block of 
arable^ to each settler, was set apart for divi* 
sion ; while the surplus fitted for cultivation, the 
marshes and tbrests less suited to the operations of 
the plough, and a great amount of fine grass or 
meadow-land, destined for the maintenance of cat* 
tie, remained in undivided possession as conmions. 
At first too, it is clear from what has been said in 
the second chapter, that considerable tracts were 
leA purposely out of cultivation to form the marches 
or defences of the several communities. But those 
alone whose share in the arable demonstrated them 

^ Tbe tnces of this mode of dismbabon si« nnmenias. Hcngai 
fofftAhr orcvpTm^ tbe Fmiftn tmicorr, b aid to do so, dae, iialiljlBMt 
riolenth and witboizt cmrtittf «3rif Iocs. Beov. L ilS7»2251. Hie Lam d 
tlie Bozjisndaas calls hervditarr Luid. "" tcm wttu titiik> aDqimfltB," 
in fODtndsdnctiDa to chaneb taken by pozHuue. Lex Bmg. TiL 1. 
cape I. ^ Eiehiian. i. oa\ 400. note #1 Godred, bra^ adbdMd the 
llaajanen. drrided xheu land amoc^ kis foilovcn Vr kx. ^ Godredos 
K^uiesti d3e obcocwm exemtui soo dedit, ut s maJLent V«tw»i— inter 
K dirbdere. «et in ea babctarv : ttI fODLtam^clMCantiaB teme acaperc^ 
et ad pc\^na remieanr/* Chroa. M^n'^a**. Co«- MS. JnL JL VLl. foL 
32. Upon the TemoTal of Sc. Cu^fberht's retics to Dttkaai, the fint 
care ma to endscate the ibceat that co>vezed dfee knd ; the aesKr to 
tnbnte the ckazTBtsr by loc : ""eradieata scaqoe sdra. <C 
sDoiboi wcte dtscnbatak'* ete. Suceon. Uoi. DnaeiB. £ccL § 37. 

' Wcn^ dmsocLu: ziea;sir:5 of bad bare vcrr freqaaihr ■■t pi^^» to 
the picQidi : titisi £Coc. fisriang:. scion^. antnuB» 


to be members of the little state, could hope to par- 
ticipate in the advantages of the commons of pas- 
ture : like the old Roman patricians, they derived 
from their haeredium benefits totallv incommensu- 
rate with its extent. Without such share of the 
arable, the man formed no portion of the state ; it 
was his franchise, his political qualification, even 
as a very few years ago, a freehold of inconsider- 
able amount sufficed to enable an Englishman to 
vote, or even be voted for, as a member of the 
legislature, — to be, as the Greeks would call it, in 
the iroXiT€ia, — a privilege which the utmost wealth 
in copyhold estates or chattels could not confer. 
He that had no land was at first unfree : he could 
not represent himself and his interests in the courts 
or assembUes of the freemen, but must remain in 
the mund or hand of another ^ — a necessary con- 
sequence of a state of society in which there is 
indeed no property but land, in other words, no 
market for its produce. 

From the mode of distribution it is probable 
that each share was originally called Hlyt (sorSf 
jcXiipoc), it derived however another and more com- 
mon name from its extent and nature. The ordinary 
Anglosaxon words are Higid^ (in its contracted 
and almost universal form Hid) and Hiwisc. The 
Latin equivalents which we find in the chronicles 
and charters are, /ami/m, cassatus, manstiSy mansa, 

^ trpooTOTov yeypd<l>$(u, to be enrolled under lome one's patronage : 
to be in hia fimnd and borh, Shtt ov ILpiowos Trpoardrov ytypa^ftai, 

' Cod. Dipl. No. 240. 

:/jr ^ THE &AXOXS IX ESGULSD. [mok l 

mamM, wutmewt and tern trSbmimnL The wonb 
Hid and Hiwisc are siniilar, if nol identical, in 
meaning : they stand in close etymological idation 
to Uigan, Hiwan, the family, the man and wife, 
and thus perfectly justify the Latin terms fomUm 
and coMotus^, bv which ther are translated. The 
Hid then, or Hide of land, is the estate of one 
household, the amount of land soffirient for the 
support of one family'. It is clear howerer that 
this could not be an invariable quantity, if the 
households were to be subsisted on an equal scale : 
it must depend upon the original quality and con- 
dition of the soil, as well as upon manifold contin- 
gencies of situation — climate, aspect, accessibility 
of water and roads, abundance of natural manures, 
proximity of marshes and forests, in short an end- 
less catalogue of varying details. If therefore the 
Hide contained a fixed number of acres all over 
England, and all the freemen were to be placed in a 
position of equal prosperity, we must assume that 
in the less favoured districts one Hide would not 
suffice for the establishment of one man, but that 
his allotment must have comprised more than that 
quantity. The first of these hypotheses may be 
very easily disposed of : there is not the slightest 
ground for supposing that any attempt was, or 

^ Cassatus or Casatus, a married man. Span. Casado. Othello speaks 
of his unJfoused free condition, that is, his bachelor state. It ia hy 
marriage that a man founds a house or funily. 

^ Ilenn' of Uuntinedon thus defines its extent : ** Uida autem An- 
glice vocatur terra unius aratri cultura sufSdens per annum." lib. tL 
an. lOOS. But this is a variable amount on land of Tahous qoalitiM^ 
as eveiy ploughman well knows. 

CH. IV.] 


could be, made to regulate the amount ofindividual 
possesBion beyond the Umit of each community ; or 
that there ever was, or could be, any concert be- 
tween different communities for such a purpose. 
The second supposition however presents greater 

There is no doubt a strong antecedent improba- 
bility of the Hide having been alike all over Eng- 
land : isolated as were the various conquests which 
gradually established the Saxon rule in the several 
districts, it can hardly be supposed that any agree- 
ment was at first found among bands, engaged in 
continual struggles for safety, rather than for ex- 
tension of territory. It may indeed be objected 
that later, when the work of conquest had been 
consolidated, when, under the rule of powerful chief- 
tains, the resistance of the Britons had ceased to 
appear dangerous, some steps may have been taken 
towards a general arrangement ; those historians 
who please themselves with the phantom of a Saxon 
confederation under one imperial head, — a Bretwal- 
daddm — may find therein an easy solution of this, 
and many other difficulties' ; but still it seems 
little likely that the important step of dividing the 
country should have been postponed, or that a suc- 
cessful body of invaders should have thought it 
necessary to wait for the consent or co-operation of 
others, whose ultimate triumph was yet uncertain. 

' It does Dot seem very clear n-hy tlic idea of one measura of laud 
•bonld suggest itaelf to cither many such cliieftoins or one buch Bret- 
mlda, while other arrangements of a much more striking and Deces- 
' tuy character reaiaiDcd totally diSereot. 


Experience of human nature would rather incline 
us to believe that, as each band wrong from the 
old masters of the soil as much as sufficed for its 
own support and safety, it hastened to realize its 
position and marked its acquisition by the stamp 
and impress of individual possession. It is mcxe- 
over probable that, had any solemn and general 
agreement been brought about through the in- 
duence of any one predominant chief, we should 
not have been left without some record of a hct, 
so beneficial in itself, and so conclusive as to the 
power and wisdom of its author: this we might 
not unreasonably expect, even though we admit 
that such an event could only have taken place at 
the ver\' commencement of our historv, and that 
such a division, or, what is more difficult still, le- 
division of the soil, is totallv inconsistent with the 
state of society in England at any period subse- 
quent to A.D. 600: but these are precisdy the 
cases where the mythus replaces and is ancillary 
to historv. 


Against all these arguments we have only one 
Uict to adduce, but it is no li£:ht one. It is certain 
that, in all the c<\$e$ where a calculation can be made 
at all, we c!o find a most striking coincidence with 
re>pect to the size of the Hide in various parts of 
England : that >uch calculation is applicable to very 
numerous ii:stances, and apparently satisfies the 
condition? of the probien^ in all ; and lastly that 
there appear? no reason to suppose that any such 
real chr.ngc ha.^. tr.kcn plr-i^c in the value of the Hide, 
down to the }>criod of the Norman conquest and the 


compilation of Domesday, according to the admea* 
surement of at least the largest and the most influ- 
ential of the English tribes \ The latest of these 
measurements are recorded in Domesday ; the ear- 
liest by Beda : the same system of calculations, the 
same results, apply to every case in which trial has 
been made between these remote limits ; and we are 
thus enabled to ascend to the seventh century, a 
period at which any equality of possessions is en- 
tirely out of the question, but at which the old unit 
of measurement may still have retained and handed 
down its original value : even as, with us, one farm 
may comprise a thousand, another, only two or 
three hundred acres, yet the extent of the acre re- 
main unaltered. 

How then are we to account for this surprising 
fact, in the face of the arguments thus arrayed 
against it? I cannot positively assert, but still 
think it highly probable, that there was some such 
general measure common to the Germanic tribes 
upon the continent, and especially in the north. 
Whether originally sacerdotal, or how settled, it is 
useless to guess ; but there does seem reason to be- 

^ Beda almost invariably gives bis numbers as " iuxta mensuram 
Angkmim.'' But in bis works Angli denotes all tbe Teutonic inbabitanta 
of Britain. H. E. i. cap. 1. Again, in Bk. i. cap. 15, be identifies them, 
** Anglorum sive Saxonum gens." He draws no distinction between 
Angle and Saxon tribes, except wbere special reasons lead bim to par« 
ticularize tbem. He does note discrepancies between tbem, whicb 
would bave appeared far less im|)ortant to a scientific and mathematical 
thinker, as be was, than differences in land-divisions. I conclude then 
that no limitation can be admitted in bis assertion, and that tbe words 
'* iozta mensuram Anglorum " denote, according to tbe admeasurement 
eommon to all the Qermanic inhabitants of Britain. 


here that a measure not viddr fiffiereot fipom die 
refiolt €>f mr own ralcobfiops as to die Hide, ]«e- 
raikd in GennaoT ; and benoe to condnde that 
it was the usual basis of measoreoient among all 
the tribes that issoed from the storefaonse of na- 
tions ^ 

What was the amount then of the Hide among 
the Ando&axons? Perhaps the eaaest way of 
arriviDs: at a tmstworthT oondosion will be to 
commence with the Anglosaxon acre, and other 
6ubdi%*ision5 of the Hide and the acre itself. 

There is reason to believe that the latter measure 
implied ordinarily a quantity of land not very dif- 
ferent in amount from our own statute acre*. I 
argue this from a passage in the dialogue attributed 
to ^Ifric, where the ploughman is made to say : 
" ac geiucodan oxan and gefsestnodan sceare and 
cultre mid %aere syl aelce daeg ic sceal erian fulne 
aecer oSSe mare ;" that is, " having yoked my oxen, 
and fastened mv share and coulter, I am bound to 
plough every day a full acre or more." Now expe- 

' 1 do not know the present arenge amount of a Fnaian or Wett- 
phalian Hof, but the peasant-farms a Uttle below Cologne, on the left 
bank of the Rhine, average from 30 to 50 acres. See Banfield, Agri- 
cult. Rhine, p. 10. The Bararian Hof of two Huben oontaina from 
60 to GOjuckert (each juckert equal to 40,000 square Bavarian feet, or 
nearly a jugerum). This brings the Hof from about 36 to 40 acres. 
See Schmeller, Baierisch. Worterbuch, ii. 142, tfoc. Hueb. Schmd- 
ler's remarks on Hof are worth consulting, and especially his opinion 
that it may mean a necessary measure or portion. See alio Grimm, 
Rechtsalt. p. 535. 

2 That it was a fixed and not a variable quantity, both aa to form 
and extent, seems to follow fi^m the expressions, three acres wide 
(Cod. Dipl. No. 781), iii acera br«de,i. e. *Aree acre* breadth (Leg. 
JWelst. iv. 5), ix acra latitudine. Leg. Hen. I. cap. xvi. 

en. IV.] 



rience proves' that a plough drawn by oxen will 
hardly exceed this measure upon average land at 
the present day ; au acre and a quarter would he 
a very hard day's work for any ploughman under 
Buch circumstances. Hence for all practical pur- 
poses we may assume our actual acre not to differ 
very materially from the Anglosaxon. And now, 
how is an acre constituted ? 

It has many divisors, all multiplying into the re- 
quired sum of 4840 square yards. Thus, it is clear 
that a length of 4840 yards, with a breadth of 
one yard, is quite as much an acre as a length of 
l!20 yards with a breadth of 22, (in other words, 
ten chains by one, or 22 X 10 X 22,) the usual 
and legal computation : that is to say, twenty-two 
strips of land each 220 yards long and one wide, 
if placed together in any position will make up an 
acre. Placed side by side they will make an ob- 
long acre whose length and breadth are as 10: 1. 
A space rather more than sixty-nine and less than 
seventy yards in each side would be a square acre ; 
it is however not probable that the land generally 
allowed of square divisions, but rather that the 
portions were oblong, a circumstance in favour of 
the ploughman, whose labour varies very much with 
the length of the furrow. 

The present divisors of the acre are 55 and 40 ; 
combinations of these numbers make up the parts 
not only of the acre or square measure, but also 

^ These ralculntioni rest not only upon the authority of Mveral large, 
prarticfti fnnncrs. and the opinioui of intelligeut ploughmen who have 
becD consulted, hut also upon experiments made under the author's 
mn eye, on IhqiI of diFTercnt qualitits. 


the measure of length. Thus 55 X 40=220, which 
taken in yards are one furlong, and which with 
one yard's breadth are -^ of an acre. Again, forty 
times 5*5 yards with a breadth of 55 yards (or 220 
X 55) are 1210 yards square, '25 of an acre : twice 
that, or forty times 5*5 with a breadth of eleven 
yards are '5 acre : and twice that, or 220x20 (that 
is in modern surveying ten chains by one) =4840 
yards or the whole acre. The same thing may be 
expressed in another way : we may assume a square 
of 5*5 yards, which is called a rod, perch or pole: 
forty of these make a rood, which is a furlong with 
a breadth of 5*5 yards ; and four such roods, or a 
furlong with a breadth of twenty-two yards, are an 
acre of the oblong form described above, and which 
is still the normal or legal acre. 

My hypothesis goes on to assume that such, or 
nearly such, were the elements of the original cal- 
culation : in fact, that they were entirely so, with 
the substitution only of 5 for 55 as a factor. It 
remains to be asked why these numbers should be 
fixed upon? Probably from some notion of the 
mystical properties of the numbers themselves. 
Forty and eight are of continual recurrence in 
Anglosaxon tradition, and may be considered as 
their sacerdotal or mythical numbers : forty divided 
by eight gives a quotient of five ; and these may 
have been the original factors, especially if, as there 
is every reason to believe, the first division of lands 
(whether here or on the continent matters not) 
took place under the authority and with the assist- 
ance of the heathen priesthood. 

If this were so, the Saxon acre very probably 


consisted of 5x5x40x4 = 4000 square yards ^ ; 
in which case the rod would be 25 yards square, 
and the furlong 200 yards in length. At the same 
time as the acres must be considered equal for 
all the purposes of useful calculation, 4000 Saxon 
square yards = 4840 English, 5 Saxon = 5*5 En- 
glish, and 200 Saxon=220 English yards. Further, 
the Saxon yard= 1*1 English, or 39*6 inches. This 
I imagine to be the metgyrde or measuring-yard of 
the Saxon Laws^. If then we take 5 X 5 X 40 yards 
we have a block of land, 200 Saxon yards in length, 
and five in breadth ; and this I consider to have 
been the Saxon square Furlang or small acre, and 
to have been exactly equal to our rood, the quaran- 
tena of early calculations^. There is no doubt what- 
ever of the Saxon furlang having been a square as 
well as long measure^; as its name denotes, it is the 

* I think, for reasons to be assigned below, that there was a small 
■s well as large acre : in which case the small acre was probably made 
up of 5x5x40=1000 a. 

' The yard of land was a very different thing : this was the fourth 
put of the Hide, the Virgata of Domesday. 

' This seems clear from a comparison of two passages already quoted 
in a note, but which must here be given more at length. The law of 
.£5elst^ defines the king's peace as extending from his door to the 
distance on every side of three miles, three furlongs, three acres' 
breadth, nine feet, nine palms, and nine barleycorns. The law of 
Henry gives the measurements thus : " tria miliaria, et tres quarantenae, 
et ix (7 iii) acrae latitudine, et ix pedes et ix palmae, et ix grana ordei." 
Thus the furlang and quarantena are identified. But it is also clear 
that the series is a descending one, and consequently that the furlang 
or quarantena is longer than the breadth of an acre. If, as is probable, 
It is derived from quaranie, I should suppose three lengths and three 
breadths of an acre to have been intended ; in fact that some multiple 
of forty was the longer side of the acre. 

^ In one case we hear of Ha be^-furlang, the furlong under bean- 
cultivation. Cod. Dipl. No. 1246. 



length of a furrow : now 220 (=200 Saxon) yards is 
not at all too long a side for a field in our modem 
husbandry \ and is still more readily conceivable in 
a less artificial system, where there was altogether 
less enclosure, and the rotations of crops were 
fewer. Five yards, or five and a half, is not too 
much space to allow for the turn of the plough ; 
and it therefore seems not improbable that such an 
oblong block (200 X 5) should have been assumed 
as a settled measure or furlong for the ploughman, 
two being taken alternately, as is done at this day, 
in working, and forming a good half-day's work for 
man and beast : the length of the furrow, by which 
the labour of the ploughman is greatly reduced, 
being taken to compensate for the improved cha« 
racter of our implements. 

I think it extremely probable that the Saxons 
had a large and a small acre, as well as a large and 
small hundred, and a large and small yard : and 
also that the quarantena or rood was this small 
acre. Taking forty quarantenae we have a sum of 
ten large acres, and taking three times that num- 
ber we have 120 quarantenae, or a large hundred of 
small acres = 30 large acres, giving ten to each 
course of a threefold system of husbandry. This 
on the whole seems a near approximation to the 
value of the Hide of land ; and the calculation of 
small acres would then help to account for the 

' A square of 220 ymrds would fonn a field of ten acres, whkh is not 
at all orersized. Since the bappy downfall of the corn-laws, which were 
a bonus upon bad husbandi}', hedges are being rooted up in eveiy quar- 
ter, and forty or fifh* acres may now be seen in single fields, where they 
were not thought of a few years ago. 

CH. IV.] THE £D£L, HID OR ALOD. 101 

number of 120 which is assigned to the Hide by 
some authorities ^ 

In the appendix to this chapter I have given 
various calculations to prove that in Domesday 
the value of a Hide is fortv Norman acres. It has 
been asserted that 100 Saxon=120 Norman acres, 
and if so 40 Norman =33^ Saxon : which does not 
differ very widely from the calculation given above. 

It must be borne in mind that the Hide com- 
prised only arable land : the meadow and pasture 
was in the common lands and forests, and was 
attached to the Hide as of common right : under 
these circumstances if the calculation of thirty, 
thirty-two or thirty- three acres be correct, we shall 
see that ample provision was made for the family*. 

Let us now apply these data to places of which 
we know the hidage, and compare this with the 
modern contents in statute-acres. 

According to Beda* the Isle of Wight contained 
1200 hides or families: now the island contains 
86,810 acres, which would give 72^ acres per hide. 
But only 75,000 acres are under cultivation now, 
and this would reduce our quotient to 62*5 acres. 
On the hypothesis that in such a spot as the Isle 

' See Ellis, Introd. to Domesday. 

' The numbers given are assumed, upon the supposition that 3 X 40 
were taken : or that 4x8, that is four virgates of eight acres ; or lastly 
that thirty-three Saxon = nearly forty Norman were taken. As I am 
about to test the actual acreage of England by these numbers, it is as 
well to try them all. The practical result cannot vary much, and the 
principal object is to show that the Saxon Hide was not very different 
from the ordinary German land-divisions. 
Ecd. iy. 16. 

102 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of Wight (in great portions of which vegetation is 
not abundant) our Saxon forefathers had half as 
much under cultivation as we now have, we should 
obtain a quotient of about thirty-one acres to the 
hide, leaving 49,6 10 acres of pasture, waste, etc.: the 
ratio between the cultivated and uncultivated land, 
being about 37 : 49, is much too near equality for 
the general ratio of England, but may be accounted 
for by the peculiar circumstances of the island. 

Again, Beda estimates Thanet at 600 hides*. 
Now Thanet. at this day, contains 23,000 acres of 
arable land, and 3,500 of marsh and pastures. The 
latter must have been far more extensive in the 
time of Beda, for in the first place there must have 
been some land on the side of Surrey and Sussex 
reserved as Mark, and we know that drainage and 
natural causes have reclaimed considerable tracts 
in that part of Kent^ ; nor is it reasonable to sup- 
pose that our forefathers ploughed up as much 
land as we do. Yet even 23,000 acres will give us 
only 38-^ acres to the hide ; and I do not think we 
shall be venturing too much in placing the 3200, 
3800 or 5000 acres by which 23,000 respectively 
exceed 19,800, 19,200 and 18,000, to the account 
of pastures and commons. Seven or eight thou- 
sand acres of common land would bear in fact so 
unusually small a proportion to the quantity under 
crop, that we should be disposed to suspect the 
islanders of having been less wealthy than many 

» Hi8t. Ecd. i. 2b, 

^ The river Wantsum alone was three stadia wide, about a third of t 
mile, and w as passable at two points only. Bed. Ilist. EccL i. 25. 


of their neighbours, unless we give them credit 
for having sacrificed bread crops to the far more 
remunerative pasturage of cattle*. 

The whole acreage of Kent is 972,240 acres. 
What amount of this must be deducted for waste, 
rivers, roads and towns I cannot say, but some de- 
duction is necessary. Now Kent numbered 15,000 
hides : this gives a quotient of 64 to 65 acres per 
hide ; and at the least, one half of this may fairly 
be taken off for marsh, pasture and the weald of 

The calculation for Sussex is rendered uncertain 
in some measure, through our ignorance of the rela- 
tive proportion borne by the weald in the seventh 
century or earlier, to its present extent. The whole 
county is computed at 907,920 acres, and the weald 
at 425,000 acres. We may be assured that every 
foot of the weald was forest in the time of Beda : 
to this must be added 110,000 acres which are 
still waste and totally unfit for the plough : 30,000 
acres now computed to be occupied by roads, build- 
ings, etc. may be neglected : our amount will there- 
fore state itself thus : 

Whole acreage 907,920 

Weald and waste 535,000 

372,920 acres. 

* The great fertility of Thanet is noticed by the ancients. Solinus 
(cap. jLxu.) calls it *' frumentariis campis fchx et gleba uberi." But com 
is of no value without a market ; and unless London or the adjacent 
parts of the continent supplied one, I must still imagine that the 
islanders did not keep so gfeat an amount in arable. It is true that at 
very early periods a good deal of com was habitually exported from 
Britain : *' annona a Britannis sueta traosferri." Ammian. Hist, xviii. 2. 

104 Tll£ SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book x. 

Now Sussex contained 7000 hide8\ and this will 
give us a quotient of 53*25 acres per hide. Here 
again, if we make allowance for the condition of 
Saxon husbandry, we shall hardly err much in as- 
suming something near thirty to thirty-three acres 
to have been the arable hide in Sussex. 

When once we leave the accurate reports of a 
historian like Beda for the evidence of later ma- 
nuscripts, we must necessarily proceed with great 
caution, and in reasonable distrust of our conclu- 
sions. This must be borne in mind and fairly ap- 
preciated throughout the following calculations. 

An authority already mentioned^ computes the 
number of hides in EastangUa at 30,000. It is 
difficult to determine exactly what counties are 
meant by this, as we do not know the date of the 
document ; but supposing, what is most probable, 
that Norfolk and Suffolk are intended, we should 
have a total of 2,241,060 acres in those two great 
farming districts^. But even this large amount 
will only give us a quotient of 73'7 acres per hide, 
and it may fairly be diminished by at least one 
half, to account for commons, marshes, forests and 
other land not brought under the plough from the 
seventh to the tenth centuries. 

The same table states Essex at 7000 hides. The 
acreage of that county is 979,000 acres*, hence 

> Beda, Hist. Eccl. iv. c. 13. « See Chap. III. p. 82. 

» Norf. l;292,;300, Suff. 918,760, =2,241.060. Of these I beUeve 
only about 2,000,000 are actually under cultivation, which would re- 
duce the quotient to sixty-three and two-third acres per hide. 

* Of which only 900,000 are computed to be now under cultiTatioii : 
this reduces the quotient to 128*5 acres per hide ; and the ratio of col- 



upon the whole calculation we shall have 139f acres 
per hide. But of course here a very great deduc- 
tion is to be made for Epping, Hainault and other 
forests, and for marshy and undrained land. 

1 shall DOW proceed to reverse the order of pro- 
ceeding which has hitherto been adopted, and to 
show that the hypothesis of the hide having com- 
prised from thirty to thirty-three acres is the only 
one which will answer the conditions found in va- 
rious grants : that in a number of cases from very 
different parts of England, a larger number of acres 
would either be impossible or most improbable: 
that it is entirely impossible for the hide to have 
reached 120 or even 100 acres, and that the amount 
left after deducting the arable, to form pastures 
and meadows, is by no means extravagant. The 
examples are taken from different charters printed 
in the Codex Diplomaticus .^vi Saxonici, and for 
convenience of reference are arranged tabularlv. 
The comparison is made with the known acreage, 
taken from the Parliamentary return of 1841 1. 
The table is constructed upon the following plan. 
The first column contains the name of the place ; 
the second, the number of liides ; the third, the 
actual acreage ; the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and 
eighth, the hides calculated at thirty, thirty-two, 

tivatcil to UDCultiTatctt land is as 7 : 23, taJcing the hide at 30 acres ; 
SDd •■ 77 :-23 Uking the hide at :iS acres. 

' Enumeration Abstmct, etc., Ifl'll. I have also used the tables 
found in Mr. Porter'o Progrcsi of the Nation ; iu theac however, the 
total acreage. rnkuUtcd ap|iarently upoa the si[uarc inilra, differs 
aliglitly from the results of the (jovemment inquiry, Mr. Porter's 
numbcn always exceeding those of the Blue-book. 



thirty-three, forty and one hundred acres respect- 
ii-ely; the niDth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth, the 
excess of real over supposed acreage, at the first four 
amounts ; the thirteentl), the excess of hidage over 
real acreage on the hypothesis of one hundred acres 










300 ' 3»4 







450 4S0 








. Ktnl. 



MU 1024 







1500 1600 














ISflO IfiOO 


. lIlDtl. 




ISlW 1*W) 




^tniilrhurch .... 





3100 i240 








law i«o 



. Surrei-. 







MO 9M 





■mo !<60 

. Huh. 


3000 SiOO 






600 610 



DvTcnr on HuDih. Unc. 



1300 160O 



6000 B400 





DUO »60 


AldiDgbourn ... 



11(0 1216 





360 381 



;50 soo 




. IWrk,. 



1440 1536 





1850 W60 



1A00 1920 





900 MO 



30 ro 

IMNI 1920 


300 ' 320 


450 480 


600 610 



. B«rk). 



3U0O 3200 


. BerLs. 



450 4S0 
300 320 


400 1 I00» 

r HiDMT. E»l .. 

600 SIO 


600 640 

800 MM 


. &.mm. 




1000 SSM 


600 . 640 





1200 ■ 1280 

OH. IT.] 


per bide ; the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth and 
seveDteenth, the ratios of hidage at thirty, thirty- 
two, thirty-three and forty, to the excess, from 
which we deduce the proportion hetween the arable, 
and the meadow, pasture and waste. In a few in- 







Bu. u n. 



























































































































































































































































































































































































— eo 







64 75 

m 73 





























139 1 837 


106 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

stances, there is a double return, implying that it is 
uncertain to which, of two synonymous districts, 
a grant must be referred. 

We have thus forty-nine cases in which the 
Hide is proved less than 100 acres, a fortiori less 
than 120. Any one who carefully considers the 
ratios arrived at in the foregoing table, which for 
any one of the assumed cases rarely exceed one to 
twOy will agree that there is a remarkable coinci- 
dence in the results, in at least the rich, fertile and 
cultivated counties from which the examples are 
derived. In some cases iqdeed the proportion of 
arable to waste is so great, that we must suppose 
other districts, now under cultivation, to have been 
then entirely untouched, in order to conceive suffi- 
cient space for marks and pastures. But lest it 
should be objected that these examples can teach 
us only what was the case in fertile districts, I sub- 
join a calculation of the Hidage and Acreage of 
all England, including all its barren moors, its fo- 
rests, its marshes and its meadows, from the Solent 
to the utmost limit of Northumberland. 

The total Hidage of England = 243,600 
The total Acreage of England = 31,7/0,615 at. a. 

Acreage at 30 7,308,000 Excess 24,462,615 Rat. 7 : 24 nearly. 

32 7,795,200 ... 23,975,415 ... 1:3 

33 8,038,800 ... 23,731,815 ... 8:23 

40 9,744,000 ... 22,026,615 ... 3:8 

100 24,360,000 ... 7,410,015 ...24:7 

120 29,232,000 ... 2,538,615 ... 14 : 1 

This calculation leaves no doubt a bare possibility 
of the hide's containing 100 or 120 statute-acres: 




but those who are inclined to believe that, taking 
all England through, the proportion of cultivated to 
uncultivated land was as 29 : 3, or even as 24 : 7, it 
must be owned, appreciate our ancient husbandry 
beyond its merits ^ Cultivation may very proba- 
bly have increased with great rapidity up to the 
commencement of the ninth century ; and in that 
case, waste land would have been brought under 
the plough to meet the demands of increasing po- 
pulation : but the savage inroads of the Northmen 
which filled the next succeeding century must have 
had a strong tendency in the opposite direction. I 
can hardly believe that a third of all England was 
under cultivation at the time of the conquest ; yet 
this is the result which we obtain from a calcula- 
tion of thirty-two or thirty-three acres to the hide, 
while a calculation of forty acres gives us a result 
of three-eighths, or very little less than one-half. 
The extraordinary character of this result will best 
appear from the following considerations. 

If we proceed to apply these calculations to the 
existing condition of England, we shall be still more 
clearly satisfied that from thirty to thirty-three acres 
is at any rate a near approximation to the truth. 

^ I have taken the acreage as given in the Census of 1841, but there 
is another calculation which makes it amount to 32,342,400 ; in which 
case the several values must be corrected as follows. The general re- 
sult is not in the least altered by this change in the factors. 

Acreage at 30 7,308,000 Excess 25,034,400 Rat. 7 : 25 

32 7,795,200 ... 24,647,200 ... 7:24 

33 8,038,800 ... 24,303,600 ... 1:3 

40 9,744,000 ... 22,698,400 ... 9:22 

100 24,360,000 ... 7,982,400 ...24:7 

120 29,232.000 ... 3,110,400 ...29:3 

no THE SAXONS 15 ENOLAlfD. [book I. 

The exact data for England are I believe not found, 
but in 1827 Mr. Coaling, a civil engineer and sur- 
veyor delivered a series of calculations to the Select 
Committee of the House of Commons on Emigra- 
tion, which calculations have been reproduced by 
Mr. Porter in his work on the Progress of the 
Nation. From this I copy the following table : 

Arable and 


pasture, mmh. 

Waste capable Waste incapable 


Statute acns. 

Statute acre*. 

3,454,000 3,256,400 

Statate acraa* 

Now as the arable and gardens are all that can 
possibly be reckoned to the hide, we have these 
figures : 

Ana>te 10^2.800 

Meadow, waste, forest, etc 22,089,600 

giving a ratio of 5 : 1 1 nearly between the cultivated 
and uncultivated*. 

The actual amount in France is difficult to ascer- 
tain, but of the 52,732,428 hectares of which its 
superficial extent consists, it is probable that about 
30,000,000 are under some sort of profitable cul- 
ture : giving a ratio of rather less than 15 : 11 be- 
tween the cultivated and uncultivated : how much 
of this is arable and garden I cannot exactly deter- 
mine ; but it is probable that a great deal is reck- 
oned to profitable cultivation, which could not have 

' This differs from the result obtained at forty acres, only by the 
small advanee oi-i^i ot taking Mr. Porter's tabl^, of n^. 


been counted in the hide. Osieries, meadows, or- 
chards, cultivated or artificial grassland, and brush^ 
wood, are all sources of profit, and thus are pro- 
perly included in a cadastre of property which may 
be tithed or taxed as productive : but they are not 
strictly what the hide was, and must be deducted 
in any calculation such as that which is the object 
of this chapter. We are unfortunately also fur- 
nished with inconsistent amounts by different au- 
thorities, where the difference rests upon what is 
reckoned to profitable cultivation, on which subject 
there may be a great variety of opinion. Still, for 
a time neglecting these considerations, and making 
no deduction whatever, it appears that the excess 
of culture upon the gross sum is only as 15:11 in 
France ^ 

In the returns from Austria we can follow the 

* The hectare is about 2*5 acres. The calculations have been Ta« 
riously made. One is as follows : 

Total superficies 52,732,428 hect. 

Profitably cultured, including gardens, osier- -i 

ies, willow plantations, orchards, meadows V 30,000,000 hect. 

and cultivated pastures J 

Forests and landes 10,000,000 

Useless land 7,000,000 

• • • 

•• • 


Another, and I believe sounder, calculation makes the forests and 
landes amount to 

Forest 8,623,128 hect. 

Landes 8,000,000 

• * . 

•• • 


Where, probably, portions of the wood and lande are not reckoned to 
the land under profitable cultivation. Still this is a very different thing 
from being imder the plough. 


same train of reasoning : as the ensuiDg table will 

Lower Aaitria, 
L'ppcr Auilritj 


Cuinthii ,..| 




UonTii &! 


Gilidi I 

1,399^IU 60,133 
834J56i 37 
709,14;! 54.875 
477.49S, 16,SU 
2t5,73» £6.l3i 




(56^ SMjiai I,773,5M 1. , 

55fi,973 78S;8M IfitSJUX »M*fit 

171,2531 SWiM 317,346 1.181,11 

432^30, ft48.800 I,94fiJ0O 3,ieO^ 

!UM68 «I1,&01 3,316,398 7J70,aW 

390,15i| 463,09» l,)U,tU9 4,233,747i 


Total .. J6,079,593i390,1W 

S.03I ,83 1 6,34»,l SB: 15,S13.l>l3M4.ei6, 

Thus of the whole productive surface of the 
Austrian empire, the arable bears only the propor- 
tion of 4: 11. But to this must clearly be added 
an immense extent of land totally unfitted for the 
plough ; by which the ratio of arable to the whole 
territorial surface will be materially diminished. 
Strange then as the conclusion may appear, we are 
compelled to admit that England at the close of the 
tenth century had advanced to a high pitch of cul- 
tivation : while the impossibihty of reckoning the 
hide at much above thirty Saxon acres is demon- 
strated. It is clear, however the property of the 
land may have been distributed, that the elements 
of wealth existed in no common degree'. 

' It is wrQ known tliat gnst <]iiandtici of land wac throm out of 
cnltiTaboD to pntdiKt rhwes and forests. And the coaxtaat nn of 
Uk baroonJ vet must hiTc had the iam« effect- HoceTer tt 
may think it. wt can battllj atoid ibe concluiion that, ii 

CH. IV.] THE £D£L^ HI'D OR ALOD. 113 

The number of forty acres has of course been 
taken solely for the purpose of getting a common 
measure with the present acre assumed in the parlia- 
mentary survey. Whether it corresponded exactly 
with thirty, thirty-two or thirty-three Saxon acres, 
it is impossible to say, but I have shown that the 
difference could not be very great. Something may 
be alleged in favour of each of these numbers ; but 
on the whole the larger one of thirty-three acres 
seems to me the most probable. A valuable entry 
of the year 967 may help us to some clearer con- 
clusion \ In this document Bishop Oswald states 
himself to have made a grant of se6 ]7ridde hind 
at Dydingcotan, ^aet is, se ]?ridde secer, — the third 
hind at Didcot, that is, the third acre. It is cer- 
tain that at some very early period the word hund 
denoted ten, whence we explain its occurrence in 
such numerals as hundseofontig, huudeahtatig, etc. 
The word hynd then, I derive from this hund, and 
render by tenth, and the grant seems to have con- 
veyed the third tenth, which can only be said of a 
quantity containing three times ten units of some 
description or other. But this third tenth is fur- 
ther described as being every third acre, that is, a 
third of the whole land ; and ten units make up 
this third : it seems therefore not unreasonable to 
suppose that the acre was the unit in question, that 

onnelves bad at the beginning of George the Third's reign ; Mr. Por- 
ter calculates that from 1760 to 1844, no less than 7,076,610 acres 
have been brought into cultivation under Inclosure Bills. Pr. of the 
Nation, 154. 
> Cod. Dipl. No. 538. 

VOL. I. I 


ten such acres constituted the hind, and that the 
hind itself was the third part of the hide. When 
we consider that thirty acres are exactly three 
times an area of 40x 40 square rods, there appears 
a probability that the measure was calculated upon 
a threefold course of cultivation, similar to that in 
ure upon the continent of Europe ; this consisted 
of a rotation of winter corn, summer com, and 
fallow, and to each a block or telga of ten large or 
forty small acres (roods) was allotted. Thirty acres 
were thus devoted to cultivation ; but where was 
tlie homestall ? Probably not upon the thirty acres 
themselves, which we cannot suppose to have been 
s:enerallv enclosed and sundered, but to have lain 
undivided, as far as external marks were concerned, 
in the general arable of the community. The village 
containing the homesteads of the markers, probably 
lav at a little distance from the fields', and I do 
not think we shall be £:ivins: too much when we 
allow three acres, over and above the thirtv, for 
farm buildings, strawvard and dweUin?. For we 
cannot doubt that stall-feeding: was the role with 
re^arxl to horned cattle in £:eneral. In the same 
dialogue which has been already cited, the plough- 
man is nuuie to sav : ' I must till the oxen*s cribs 

- *" la t^ CKms«r pa;^ oc inf rstt3T « rs^^scaHy ai «J| the 

* • • • 

A.Y\U oc :JL< «x\ <9w>e>RjC'T .a tibe Ncrc2^ auMawhr cxlCBflTV. 

j..7JOi2': f-Ia^. wia.:i«'ir 3i4\ Sr :t* •-^-^7-'^ dvfn 2s 



with hay, and give them water, and bear out their 
dung^" Moreover there must be room found for 
stacks of hay and wood, for bams and outhouses, 
and sleeping-rooms both for the serfs and the mem- 
bers of the family ; nor are houses of more than 
one story very likely to have been built*. With 
this introduction I proceed to another grant of 
Oswold^. In the year 996, he gave three hides of 
land to Eddric : the property however lay in diffe- 
rent places : '' set Ednulfestdne d^erhealf hid, "i set 
uferan Strsetforda, on ^sere gesyndredan hide, ^one 
6%eme aecer, ^ aet Fachanleage ^one }?riddan aecer 
feldlandes .... ^ on edsthealf Afene eahta eeceras 
msedwa, ^ forne gean Biccanclife xii seceras msedwa, 
*i ^a ]7reo seceras be norWan Afene t6 mylnstealle ;" 
i. e. ''at Eanulfestun a hide and a half; at upper 
Stratford the second acre (i. e. half a hide), at Fach- 
anleah the third acre (i. e. a third of a hide) : on 
the east of the river Avon, eight acres of meadow, 
and onwards towards Biccancliff, twelve acres ; and 
to the northward of the Avon, the three acres for 
a millstalL" Our data here are 1^ hide + ^ hide 
-f- 1^ hide, or 2^ hide ; but, if the calculations which 
precede are correct, 8 + 12 acres or 20 acres = f 
hide, and thus make up three hides of thirty acres 
each : three acres devoted to mill-buildings are not 
reckoned into the sum, and it is therefore possi- 
ble that a similar course was pursued with regard 

^ Leo, Spfachproben, p. 7* Thorpe, Analect. p. 8. 
* In Uungury, where land is abundant, houses, even those of con- 
siderable proprietors, are rarely of more than one story. 
» Cod. Dipl. No. 629. 


Ufi THE $.\XON$ IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

to the land occupied, not by the millstall but by 
the homestalP. 

Having thus stated my own view of the approxi- 
mate value of the hide, I feel it right to cite one or 
two pasages which seem adverse to it. By a grant 
of the year 977, Oswald conveyed to -fi^lwald, 
two hides, all but sixty acres ; these sixty acres the 
bishop had taken into his own demesne or inland 
at Kempsey, as wheat-land'. Now if this be an ac- 
curate reading, and not by chance an ill-copied Ix 
for ix, it would seem to imply that sixty acres were 
less than a hide ; for these acres were clearlv arable. 

As:ain, ^Selred sranted land at Stoke to Lfofric 
in 982 : the estate conveved was of three hides and 
thirty acres, called in one charter yii^era, in another 
part of the same grant, <rrmi^. It may be argued 
that here the acres were meadow or pasture, not 
included in the arable. But there are other calcula- 
tions upon the ju^erum**, which render it probable 
that less than our statute-acre was intended by the 
term. For example, in 839, king -iESelwulf gave 

- It u to be remtfkevi that the ei^t and tvelre arm of meadov 
are ilisiiasiiisiievl herv ftv»rs the fe^-Uzd or arable : asd in 
tkey ousbt hoc to be cakrulated into the hide : bof perhaps it 
intended to (hou^ them up : or tVvaU may eren haTe be^im to 
follow a »\sse3i is nhieh arable axui 3ie:uiow sbo<iId both he ineluded 
in the hiAf, which i* e^uiTalen:, in ocb.T worxl*, to the anenpc to »• 
pcice the wajtefuA methixi o( xmenekx^ed pa^mm by a more cnilizvd 
arran^caenc o< the L&:id. He s^vaL* L2uk«d. oa BBore than oae oc»* 
5:4X1. of zrantizLjr zediMiT-d. and land to gedjiLe, which can banDj meo 
aarsaiii: bet •■tfa* tmc*>:-^%rrs. 

- t\>L I>4>:. N... ^I::. : ro*i. No. 630. 

• .UxocvL-tr :»> PL-y. :he jsatniai wa* a da\ * work lor a yoke of 
CTen. :. e. iicar>. ijs in're : bet the Si.\ca jiwraa eaa hnnfiy hsfv hem 
«o brse. tor the nfadCft< ciTem in the t.r3Lt. 

cu. IV.] THE EDEL, HID OR ALOD. 117 

Dudda ten jugera within the walls of Canterbury : 
now Canterbury at this day comprises only 3240 
acres, and taking the area of almost any provincial 
town, it seems hardly probable that ten full acres 
within the walls should have been granted to any 
person, especially to one who, like Dudda, was of 
no very great consideration. A town-lot of two 
acres and a half, or ten roods, is conceivable. 

The last example to be quoted is from a will of 
i£lfgar^ a king's thane, about 958. In this, among 
other legacies, he grants to iE^elgar a hide of 
120 acres : *' and ic iE^elgar an an hide lond ^es 
<Se -fi^ulf hauede be hundtuelti acren, ateo so he 
wille." In this instance I am inclined to think that 
the special description implies a difference from the 
usual computation : if a hide were always 120 acres, 
why should JSlfgar think it necessary to particu- 
larize this one hide? was there a large hide of 
120, as well as a small one of thirty ? In the other 
cases — ^looking at the impossibility of assigning 
more than forty statute-acres to the Saxon hide, 
so plainly demonstrated by the tables — I suppose 
the aecras to be small acres or roods. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that where the 
number of hides mentioned in any place falls very 
far short of the actual acreage, no argument can 
be derived any way. The utmost it proves is that 
only a certain amount, however inconsiderable, was 
under the plough. Thus Beda tells us that An- 
glesey contained 960, lona or Icolmkill, only five, 

1 Cod. Dipl. No. 1222. 

118 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

hides \ The acreage of Anglesey gives 150,000 
acres under cultivation : this would be 1 56*33 per 
hide ; but in this island a very great reduction is 
necessary : taking it even as it stands, and calcu* 
lating the hide at thirty acres, we should have a 
ratio of 24 : 101 ; at forty acres, a ratio of 32 : 93 
or Uttle more than 1 : 3. 

lona numbers about 1300 acres (nearly two square 
miles) : this at live hides would give 260 acres per 
hide: at thirty acres, a ratio of 3:23 or nearly 
1 : 8 between cultivated and uncultivated land : or 
at forty acres, a ratio of 2 : 11. But the monks and 
their dependants were the only inhabitants ; and in 
the time of Beda, up to which there is no proof of 
the land^s having been inhabited at all (in fact it 
was selected expressly because a desert), sand, if 
not forest, must have occupied a large proportion 
of the surface. 

Let us now retrace our steps for a few moments. 
The hide was calculated upon the arable: it was 
the measure of the alod, — the e?el, or inherited, 
individual )>os$ession ; it was the cXiipoc, lot, or 
share of the tirst settler: it kept a plough at work 
during the year : and, according to its etymology 
s^ki^iiV and the wont familia by which it was trana- 
latevl, it was to suthce for the support of one Hiwisc 
or household. 

Did it really so sufice. at tirst and afterwards? 
Ucqucstionably it dio. We may sately assert this, 
without entering into aiv.v s^HscuIatioos as to the 

' Use Lm. ;l ^ : JO. 4. 

CB. tr.] 


amount oJ' population in tlie Saxon kingdoms of the 
seventh, eighth, ninth, or even eleventh centuries. 
We know that in the eighth century, 1 50 hides were 
enough for the support and comfort of 600 monks 
in Yarrow and Wearmouth'; there is no reason, 
from their history, to suppose that they were at all 
sparingly provided for. But allowance must be 
made also for serfs and dependants, the exercise of 
hospitality and chanty, the occasional purchase of 
books, vestments and decorations, the collection of 
reliques, and the maintenance of the fabric both of 
the church and monastery. Grants and presents, 
offerings and foundations would do much, but still 
fiome portion of these necessary expenses must be 
carried to the account of the general fund. At this 
rate however, one hide was capable of maintaining 
four full-grown men. 

Now even at the present day an industrious man 
can very well support his family upon, not thirty 
or forty, but ten acres of average land*. If we look 
at the produce of such a threefold course as has 
been mentioned, there can hardly be any doubt 
upon the subject ; the cultivator would have every 
year twenty Saxon (=2fi| Norman) acres under 
some kind of corn, principally barley in all proba- 
bility, though much wheat was grown. Assuming 
the yield at only two quarters per acre, which is an 

' Amm. Abb. Uyrvr. ^ ^U. Thi* at Tony nctual »ertt, ii Un ante* 

* We ne«l not enter upon the queition whether Buph a plot ol Und 
can br tvoU cultivatoil (except ai a garcleni, oT tvhethcr it is ikairmble 
ihat iLert ibould be aoch a dnss of cultivatora. All I assert is, that a 
IDBD caD mpport hii family upon it. 

120 THE SAXOXS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

almost ludicrous understatement of the probable 
amount \ we give each householder forty quarters 
of cereales, at the very lowest, and deducting his 
seed-corn and the public taxes, we still leave him a 
very large amount. The average annual consump- 
tion of wheat per head in England is now computed 
at one quarter : let us add one half to compensate 
for the less nutritious qualities of barley, and we 
shall vet be under the mark if we allow our house- 
holder at the close of the year, a net receipt of thirty 
quarters, or food for at least twenty persons. Add 
to this the cattle, and especially swine fed in the 
forests, — which paid well for their own keep, and 
gave a net surplus — and the ceorl or owner of one 
hide of land, independently of his political rights, 
becomes a person of some consideration from his 
property^: in short he is fully able to maintain 
himself, his wife and child, the ox that ploughs, 
and the slave that tends his land, — owning much 
more indeed, than in Hesiod's eyes, would have 
sufficed tor these purposes^. It may be admitted 

^ Hie feitiHn- of Ei^rUnd wms siwrnTs celebntcd, and under the Ro- 
mans it exported rexeale$ larvrely. S*e Gibbon's ealndation of an ex- 
port under Julian. IVc. F. cap. lix. Our present aTerage jidd of wheat 
exceeds W busheU or 3T3 qrs. 

' If he had a market Ifbr his surphis. he might aceumnlate weakh. 
Eren if he had not this, he insured a com&xtaUe* tboush rude subsist- 
ence. tor his household. The spur to exertion, urging him to acquire 
luxuries^ might be wantiiur. and the national adrancement in rrfine- 
ment thus retarded : but he had a sulfieiesKn- of the necessaries of hie, 
and an mdependent existenee m the Kxiy of the &mxhr and the Mark. 
Such a state neeessarihr precedes the more cuhrrated stigf i d soeiecr. 

Cited in Arise PbL bk. 1. 
TVe knd oi a fuUbom Spartan ma; have beem l OMc ^^t Ins t^a the 


that the skies of Greece and Italy showered kind- 
lier rays upon the Ionian or the Latin than visited 
the rough denizen of our Thule ; that less food of 
any kind, and especially less meat, was required for 
their supports and that they felt no necessity to 
withdraw large amounts of harley from the annual 
yield, for the purpose of producing fermented li- 
quors^; still, as far as the amount of land is con- 
cerned, the advantage is incontestahly on the side 
of the Anglosaxon ; and in this one element of 
wealth, our ceorl was comparatively richer than the 
comrade of Romulus or the worshiper of Athene. 

SasLon hide : but let those who think these amounts too small, remem- 
ber the two jugera (under two acres) which formed the haeredium of a 
Roman patrician. 

^ Hecataeus says the Arcadians fed upon barley-bread and pork, 
^AptcadiKov dc dciirvoy. ...'£jcarator..../ia(ar fjitjaiv emit /cat vcta Kp€a. 
Athen. iv. 148. But the Arcadians, both in blood and manners, pro- 
bably resembled the Sasons more than any other Greeks did ; and what 
Hecataeus says of them would not apply to the inhabitants of Attica. 

3 After the Persian wars at least, when the Greeks prided themselves 
on drinking wine, not beer : 

aXX' eipatvds rot r^a^ y^( olicfiTopas 
€Vp^a€T*, ov niwovras ex KpiBS>v yJBv, 

^sch. Supp. 929. 




The second principle laid down in the first chapter 
of this book, is that of personal rank, which in the 
Teutonic scheme appears inseparably connected 
with the possession of land. 

The earUest records we can refer to, place before 
ns a system founded upon distinctions of birth, as 
clearlv as anv that we can derive from the Parlia- 
mentary writs or rolls of later ages : in our history 
there is not even a fabulous Arcadia, wherein we 
mav settle a free democracv : for even where the 
records of feet no longer supply a clue through the 
labyrinths of our early story, the epic continues the 
tradition, and still celebrates the deeds of nobles 
and of kin£:s. 

Tacitus, from whom we derive our earliest infor- 
mation, supplies us with many details, which not 
onlv show the existence of a svstem, but tend also 
to prove its long prevalence. He tells us not only 
of nobles, but also of kings, princes and inherited 
authority \ more or less fully developed: and the 

' The Chenijci tWlin:; the want of a kin^ sent to Rome for m de- 
scendant ot Annimii5. Tac. .Vn. \i. 17- The Ilenili in Ohnrn haTing 
siam their ^mz. sent to th«;ir brethren in Thule Scandinaria i for a 
descendant ot the blood n:;- ai. During his jonmeT however thcr ac- 
ccpceii anocfaer king firom the hands of Justinian. This pcnon and 
dior •tHm^i?' with the emperor ther renounred upon die anmJi of the 


unbiassed judgment of the statesman who witnessed 
the operation of institutions strange to himself, 
warns us against theoretical appeals to the fancied 
customs of ages not contemporaneous with our 
own. The history of Europe knows nothing of a 
period in which there were not freemen, nobles and 
serfs ; and the institutions of Europe, in proportion 
as we pursue them to their earliest principles, fur- 
nish only the stronger confirmation of history. We 
may, no doubt, theorize upon this subject, and 
suggest elementary forms, as the necessary con- 
ditions of a later system : but this process is and 
must be merely hypothetical, nor can such forms 
be shown to have had at any time a true historical 
existence. That every German was, in the begin- 
ning, Kaiser and Pope in his own bouse ^ may be 
perfectly true in one sense ; just as true is it that 
every Englishman's house is his castle : neverthe- 
less, the German lived under some government, 
civil or religious, or both : and — to the great ad- 
vantage of society — the process of law surmounts 
without the slightest difficulty the imaginary bat- 
tlements of the imaginary fortress. 

The whole subject must he considered in one of 
two ways : with reference, namely, to a man living 

prince from the North. Procop. Bell. Got. ii. 15. ** Regesex nobilitate, 
duces ex virtute summit." Tac. Germ. vii. *' Magna patrum merita 
principifl dignationem etiam adolescentulis assignant." Ibid. xiii. Al- 
though mere boys might be kings, they could hardly be duces, in the 
old Teutonic sense. 

* Moser, Osnabriickische Geschichte (17B0), 1" Abschn. § 8. 
" Solche einzelne wohner waren Priester und Konige in ihren Hausem 
und Hofmarken/' etc. See his references to Tac. Germ. x. etc. 

124 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

alone with his family, or to the same man and fa- 
mily, in a bond of union witli others, that is in the 

Could we conceive a permanent condition of 
society, such that each particular family lived 
apart, without connection or communion with 
others, we must admit the inevitable growth of a 
patriarchal system, of which the eldest member of 
the family would be the head ; a system similar to 
that which we do find described as prevailing in 
the wandering family of Abraham. But such a 
condition could only exist at a period of time, and 
in a state of the earth, which admitted of frequent 
migration, and while the population bore a small 
proportion to the means of support, perhaps even 
in countries where water is of greater value than 
land. Thus the moment the family of Abraham 
became too numerous, and his herdsmen found it 
necessary to defend their wells and pastures against 
the herdsmen of Lot, a separation took place and 
the Schieks parted, according to the provisions of 
a solemn compact, that there might not be strife 
between them^ But, setting aside the mysterious 
purposes for which the race of Abraham were made 
wanderers, and which impress an exceptional cha- 
racter upon their whole history, it is clear that 
even they were surrounded by a society, whose con- 
ditions were totally different from any that could 
have existed in Germany. They fled from the face 
of a depraved cultivation, prevalent in the cities, 

^ Genesis xiii. 6, seq. 


and they were sojourners only from place to place, 
till the fulness of time, when they were to found 
the normal theocracy of the world. 

To a certain degree they resembled the squatters 
in the backwoods of America ; like them, they esta- 
blished a law for themselves, and acted upon it : 
— with the nature of that law, divine or human, we 
have nothing to do, for the purposes of this in- 
quiry : — in this sense, indeed, they could be kings 
and priests in their own house ; but so are, or were, 
the North American Regulators^ who, in their own 
families and among all over whom they could esta- 
blish their power, acted as judges, and both pro- 
mulgated and executed a law which was necessary 
to their very existence in the wilderness. 

But I find it impossible to admit that the origin 
of our Grermanic nations is to be found in any such 
solitary households or families ; were it true, as 
Moser appears to argue \ of some parts of West- 
phalia, it would not be so of other districts in 
southern Germany, as he indeed admits^, and, 
particularly, it would not be true of England. In 
these two cases there can be no doubt that some 
kind of military organization preceded the peace- 
ful settlement, and in many respects determined 
its mode and character^. But, even if we admit 

1 Osnab. Gesch. i. § 2. ^ Ibid. i. § 7. 

^ There cannot be any doubt respecting England, where the Germanic 
race are not autochthonous. The organization of the Suevi may be 
learnt from Caesar (Bell. Gall. iv. 1,2, 3), and Moser ver}' justly observes 
that the Swabian law must necessarily have differed from the Saxon. 
Osnab. Ges. i. ^ /• So, to a certain degree, must the Anglosaxon from 

126 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

to the fullest extent, the doctrine of solitary set- 
tlements, we must still contend that these are, in 
their very nature, temporary ; that they contain 
no possible provision for stability, in short that 
thev are excluded bv the verv idea itself of a state ; 
yet it is as a member of a state that man exists^ 
that he is intended to exist ' , and unless as a mem- 
ber of a state, he is incapable of existing as a man. 
He can as little create a language as create a state: 
he is bom to both, for both, and without both he 
cannot exist at all. 

Each single family then is a state : two, three or 
four families are a state, under larger conditions. 
How are these last to be settled ? 

Where a number of independent households are 
thinly dispersed over a portion of the country, their 
reciprocal relations and position will probably be 
more or less of the foUowins: kind. 

Some arrangement will exist for the regulation 
of the terms on which the use of the woods, waters 
and common uncultivated land may be enjoyed by 
all the settlers : it is even possible that they may 
have some common reIiii:ious ceremonies as the 
basis of this arrangement^. But further than this 
there need be no union or mutual dependence; 
each solitary homestead is a state by itself, pos« 
sessing the ^*i/*' belli ; in no federal relation to, 
and consequently in a state of war with, every 

' Aristotle's Pulitics, book i. cap. I . Dahlmann, Politik, 4 K 3, 3. 

* It is of course extremely diAicult to couceive this apart from the 
existence of a common priesthood ; but such a priesthood is already . 
the commencement of a regular state. 


other household, even though this right of war 
should not be in active operation at any given 

In his own household every man may bear rulei 
either following his own arbitrary will, or in accord- 
ance with certain general principles, which he pro- 
bably recognizes in common with his neighbours. 
He may have a family worship of his own, of which 
he will be the chief priest ^, and which worship may 
or may not be consistent with that of his neighbours. 
If he is troublesome to them, they may root him 
out, slay or enslave him, do with him what seems 
good in their eyes, or whatsoever they have power 
to do. If he thrives and accumulates wealth, they 
may despoil him, or he oppress them, — all, how- 
ever, jure belli, for there can be no jus imperii in 
such a case. 

This, however, cannot be the normal state of 
man. The anxious desire, it might almost be called 
instinctive yearning, to form a part of a civilized 
society, forbids its continuance, not less than the 
obvious advantage of entering into a mutual gua- 
rantee of peace and security. The production of 
food and other necessaries of life is the first busi- 

' In such a case, power or force being the only term of reference, 
each household will he determined by that alone in its intercourse with 
others. If A wants a slave, he will war upon and take B, if he can : 
bat to prevent this, B and C will unite ; so that at last a regulated 
union is found best for all parties, in respect to themselves as a com- 
munity, and against all other communities. 

' Tac. Germ. x. " Si publice consulatur sacerdos, sin privaiim, ipse 
paterfamilias preeatus Deos" This seems to indicate at the com- 
mencement, an independent priestly power in the paterfamilias. Com- 
pare the remarkable history in Judges, cap. xvii. xviii. 

128 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

ness of men : the attempt to take forcible posses- 
sion of, or to defend, accumulated property, pre- 
supposes the accumulation. While the land and 
water are more than sufficient for the support of 
the population, the institutions proper to peace will 
prevail. It is inconceivable, and repugnant to the 
very nature of man, that such institutions should 
not be established the moment that two or more 
separate families become conscious of each other's 
existence ' : and in respect to our Grermanic fore- 
fathers, we find such in full vigour from their very 
first appearance in history. 

Some of the institutions essential to the great 
aim of establishing civil society at the least possible 
sacrifice of individual freedom — such as the Wer- 
gildy the Frank pledge^ etc. — will be investigated in 
their proper places : they seem to offer a nearly 
perfect guarantee for society at an early period. 
But for the present we must confine ourselves to 
the subject of personal rank : and as the centre and 
groundwork of the whole Teutonic scheme is the 
individual freeman, it is with him that we must 
commence our investigation. 

The natural divisions into which all human so- 
ciety must be distributed, with respect to the beings 
that form it, are the Free and the Unfree^^ those 

' The only place where I can admit of such solitary settlements is 
Scandinavia, and even there they must have formed the exception, not 
the rule. See Chap. II. p. 68. 

' " Summa itaque divisio personarum hocc est, quod omnes homines 
aut liberi sunt aut ser\'i." Fleta, bk. i. cap. 1. " Est autem libertas, 
naturalis facultas ejus, quod cuique facere libet, nisi quod de jure aut 
vi prohibetur." Ibid. cap. 2. 


who can protect themselves and those who must 
be in the protection of others. Even in the family 
this distinction must be found, and the wife and 
son are unfree in relation to the husband and 
the father ; they are in his mund. From this mund 
the son indeed may be emancipated, but not the 
wife or daughter: these can only change it; the 
wife by the act of God, namely the death of the 
husband ; the daughter by marriage. In both cases 
the mund passes over into other hands ^ 

Originally the Freeman is he who possesses at 
least as much land as, being tilled, will feed him, 
strength and skill to labour, and arms to defend 
his possession. Married to one free woman who 
shares his toils, soothes his cares, and orders his 
household, he becomes the founder of the family 
— the first unit in the state : the son who springs 
from this marriage, completes the family, and 
centres in himself the blood, the civil rights and 
the affections of his two progenitors. It is thus, 
through the son, that the family becomes the foun- 
dation of the state ^. 

The union of a greater or less number of free 
heads of houses upon a district sufficient for their 
support, in a mutual guarantee of equal civil rights, 
is the state itself : for man is evidently fdrmed by 
God to live in a regulated community, by which 
mode of life alone he can develope the highest 

> See Fleta, bk. i. cap. 5, 6, 7, 9. 

' It is probably in this sense that the Hindu Institutes assert, 
'' Then only is a man perfect when he* consists of three persons united, 
his wife, himself, and his son." Manu, ch. ix. 45. 

VOL. I. K 


qualities of the nature which God has implanted in 
him ; and the first community is the union of free 
men for purposes of friendly intercourse and mutual 
aid, each enjoying at the hands of every other the 
same rights as he is willing to grant to every other, 
each yielding something of his natural freedom in 
order that the idea of state, that is of orderly go- 
vernment, may be realized. For the state is neces- 
sary, not accidental. Man not living in a state, 
not having developed and in some degree realized 
the idea of state, is insofar not man but beast. 
He has no past and no future : he lives for the 
day, and does not even accumulate for the days to 
come : he lives, thinks, feels and dies like a brute. 
For man is free through the existence, not the ab- 
sence, of law ; through his voluntary and self-con- 
scious relinquishment of the power to do wrong, 
and the adoption of means to counteract and dimi- 
nish his own tendencv to evil. The amount of 
personal liberty to be given up is the only question 
of practical importance, but from the idea of Free- 
dom itself results the law, that this amount must 
be in all cases a minimum. 

The ideas of freedom and equality are not, how- 
ever, inseparable : a nation of slaves may exist in 
sorrowful equality under the capricious wDl of a 
native or foreign tyrant : a nation of free men may 
cheerfully, wisely and happily obey the judge or the 
captain they have elected in the exigencies of peace 

and war. Hence the voluntarv union of free men 


does not exclude the possibility of such union being 
either originally based upon terms of inequality, or 


becoming sooner or later settled upon such a basis. 
But, as the general term is the freedom, I take this as 
the unity which involves the difference ; the noble 
is one of the freemen, and is made noble by the act 
of the free : the free are not made so by the noble. 

By these principles the divisions of this chapter 
are regulated. 

The freeman is emphatically called Man, ceorl, 
maSy maritus : waepned man, amiatus : after the pre- 
valence of slavery, he is, for distinction, termed 
free, frigman, frihals, i. e. free neck : the hand of a 
master has not bent his neck ^ ; but his oldest and 
purest denomination is ceorl. Till a very late pe- 
riod the Anglosaxon law knows no other distinction 
than that of ceorl and eorl *. The Old Norse Rigs- 
mdl which is devoted to the origin of the races, 
considers Karl as the representative of the freeman. 
His sons are Hair, Anglos. Haele, vir ; Drengr, 
Anglos. Dreng, vir ; ]?egen, Anglos. )?egn, virfortis^ 
miles, minister ; Holdr, Anglos, hold, pugily fidelis ; 
Bui» Anglos, gebur, colonus ; BoDdi, Anglos, bonda, 
colomu; SmiSr, Anglos. Smi®, /after; Seggr, Anglos. 
Secg, vir. Among the daughters are Sndt, BruSr, 
Flio^ and Wif. Many of these terms yet survive, 
to represent various classes of freemen in almost 
every Germanic country ^. 

' The convene is collibertuSy qui coUmm liberavit, culvert, coward, 
' Swa eic we getta'8 be eallum h4dum, ge ceorle, ge eorle : " so also 
we ordain concerning all degrees of men, churl as well as earl." LI. 
^afr. § 4. 

' Conf. Grimm, Deut. Rechtsalt. 283. The Latin laws of the Mid- 
dle Ages usually adopt the words. Liber, liber homo, ingenuus. In 
reference to the noble, he is mediocris, minofledus, Karabttartpos : in 
respect of bis wife, he it baro, 


132 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

The rights of a freeman are these. He has land 
within the limits of the. community, the ^el or 
hereditary estate (cAi^poc, haeredium, hyd) by virtue 
of which he is a portion of the community, bound 
to various duties and graced with his various pri- 
vileges. For although his rights are personal, in- 
herent in himself, and he may carry them with him 
into the wilderness if he please, still, where he shall 
be permitted to execute them depends upon his 
possession of land in the various localities. In 
these he is entitled to vote with his fellows upon 
all matters concerning the general interests of the 
community ; the election of a judge, general or 
king; the maintenance of peace or war with a 
neighbouring community ; the abrogation of old, or 
the introduction of new laws ; the admission of con- 
terminous freemen to a participation of rights and 
privileges in the district. He is not only entitled 
but bound to share in the celebration of the pubUc 
rites of religion, to assist at the public council or 
Ding, where he is to pronounce the customary law, 
by ancient right, and so assist in judging between 
man and man ; lastly to take part, as a soldier, in 
such measures of offence and defence as have been 
determined upon by the whole community. He is 
at liberty to make his own alliances, to unite with 
other freemen in the formation of gilds or associa- 
tions for religious or political purposes. He can 
even attach himself, if he will, to a lord or patron, 
and thus withdraw himself from the duties and 
the privileges of freedom. He and his family may 
depart, whither he will, and no man may follow or 


prevent him : but he must go by open day and pub- 
licly, (probably not without befitting ceremonies 
and a symbolical renunciation of his old seats,) that 
all may have their claims upon him settled before 
he departs ^ 

The freeman must possess, and may bear arms ; 
he is bom to them, schildbiirtig ; he wears them on 
all occasions, public and private, *' nihil neque pub- 
licae neque privatae rei nisi armati agunt* ;" he is 
entitled to use them for the defence of his life and 
honour ; for he possesses the right of private war- 
fare, and either alone, or with the aid of his friends, 
may fight, if it seems good to him. This right is 
technically named fseh^e, feud, from fa, inimictis ; 
and to be exposed to it is f^eh^e beran, to bear the 
feud\ If he be strong enough, or ill-disposed 
enough, to prefer a violent to a peaceful settlement 
of his claims, he may attack, imprison and even 
slay his adversary, but then he must bear the feud 
of the relations. 

Beside the arms he wears, the sign and ornament 
of his freedom is the long hair which he suffers 

' " Si quia liber homo migrare voluerit aliquo, potestatem habeat 
infira dominiuin regni nostri, cum fara sua, migrarc quo voluent." Leg. 
Roth. 177. The firee folk on the Leutkirchcr Heide "are free and 
shall have no nachjagende Htrr^* (t. e. Lord hunting after them, the 
DcmwMa persequens of our early law-books. Liinig. Reichsarch. 
p. spec. cont. 4. p. 803. See further Grimm, Deut. Rechtsalt. 286, 

' Tac. Germ. xiii. A century ago gentlemen wore swords in France 
and England, and courtiers still wear them. The Hungarian freeman 
transacts no public business unarmed. 

' Lex. Fres. ii. 2. 

134 THE SAXOXS IX ENGLAND. [book i. 

to float upon his shoulders or winds about his 

His proper measure and value, by which his 
social position is - ascertained and defended, is the 
wergyld, or price of a man. His life, his limbs, 
the injuries which may be done to himself, his de- 
pendants and his property, are all duly assessed ; 
and though not rated so highly as the noble, yet he 
stands above the stranger, the serf or the freedman. 
In like manner his land, though not entirely exempt 
from charges and payments for public purposes, 
is far less burthened than the land of the unfree. 
Moreover he possesses rights in the commons, 
woods and waters, which the unfree were assuredly 
not permitted to exercise. 

The great and essential distinction, however, 
which he never entirelv loses under anv circum* 
stances, is that he aids in sovemins himself, that 
is in making, applying and executing the laws by 
which the free and the unfree are alike governed ; 
that he vields, in short, a voluntarv obedience to 
the law« for the sake of hvin? under a law, in an 
orderly and peact^ful community. 

In the state of thinsr^ which we are now consi- 

jakI ut 4uaic;. titaf loa:£ buur mA% 2aT« beva comiiitfti (i> tke noiUe 

rrx^f : r ** s-w T» 'i\ Avbore. L) '^wx* hw^rt ittio. if « ^frw ■iiwfcf, tkai 
Krntn Mi iiftr. (iu 'imn tfrvm/. L«;x J^^vtb. ^ 731 To cnt « fifc- 
Duta'f 2.ur w«» CO disiioaour H.m Lex Slit. ^ Jo, S«« abo Gammt^ 
IVur. rwviitsalc. yc*. ;:n< \ iTSv Euaunuis ip«BiL> of tbe Fnaia ai 
•' pp-iiAj vTuitf ruciancw." Pane^c Coasciac. c. IS. 


dering, the noble belongs to the class of freemen ; 
out of it he springs, in all its rights and privileges 
he shares, to all its duties he is liable, but in a 
different degree. He possesses- however certain 
advantages which the freeman does not. Like the 
latter he is a holder of real estate ; he owns land in 
the district, but his lot is probably larger, and is 
moreover free from various burthens which press 
upon his less fortunate neighbour. He must also 
take part in the Ding, placitum or general meeting, 
but he and his class have the leading and directing 
of the public business, and ultimately the execution 
of the general willV The people at large may elect, 
but he alone can be elected, to the offices of priest, 
judge or king. Upon his life and dignity a higher 
price is laid than upon those of the mere freeman. 
He is the unity in the mass, the representative of 
the general sovereignty, both at home and abroad. 
The tendency of his power is continually to in- 
crease, while that of the mere freeman is continu- 
ally to diminish, falling in the scale in exact pro- 
portion as that of the noble class rises. 

The distinctive name of the noble is Eorl*- 

* " De minoribus rebus principes consultant ; de majoribus onines. 
Ita tamen ut ea quoque quorum penes plebem arbitrium est, apud prin- 
cipes pertractentur." Tac. Germ. xi. Something similar to this pro- 
bably prevailed in the Dorian constitution, and in the old Ionian before 
the establishment of the great democracy. The mass of the people 
might accept or reject, but hardly, I think, debate the propositions of 
Uie nobles. After all the npSfiovKoi seem necessary in all states. See 
Anst. Pol. iv. § 15. 

^ In the Bigsm^, Jarl is the progenitor of all the noble races, as 
Karl is of the free. 

136 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

M^le (nobilis) and Rice (patens) , denote his qua- 
lities, and he bears other titles according to the 
accidents of his social position : thus ealdor, ealdor- 
man, princeps ; wita, weota, consUiarius ; optimas ; 
senior ; procer^ melior^ etc. In addition to his own 
personal privileges, the noble possesses in the full- 
est extent every right of the freeman, the highest 
order of whose body he forms. 




As the noble is to the freeman, so in some respects 
is the King to the noble. He is the summit of his 
class, and completes the order of the freemen. Even 
in the dim twilight of Teutonic history we find 
tribes and nations subject to kings ; others again 
acknowledged no such office, and Tacitus seems to 
regard this state as the more natural to our fore- 
fathers. I do not think this clear: on the con- 
trary, kingship, in a certain sense, seems to me 
rooted in the German mind and institutions, and 
universal among some particular tribes and con- 
federacies. The free people recognize in the King 
as much of the national unity as they consider 
necessary to their existence as a substantive body, 
and as the representative of the whole nation they 
consider him to be a mediator between themselves 
and the gods\ The elective principle is the safe- 

' There is a tradition among the Swedes that if the gods expressed 
their anger with the people by scarcity, or ill success in war, the most 
acceptable offering to them was the King. See Yngling, Sag. c. xviii. 
(Laing, i. 230); again, c. xlvii. (vol. i. p. 256), where the scene is 
laid in Norway : because, says the Yngl. Sag., the Swiar were wont to 
attribute to their kings the fruitfulness or dearth of the seasons. Yet 
they did not interfere with the succession in the son of the sacrificed 
king. See Geijer, Hist. i. 404. 

lo8 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

guard of their Ireedom : the mooarchical principle 
is the condition of their nationsditv. But this idea 
of kingship is not that which we now generally en- 
tertain ; it is in some respects more, in others less, 

And here it seems necessary to recur to a defi- 
nition of words. With us, a king is the source both 
of the military and the judicial powers ; he is chief 
judge and general in chief ; among protestants he 
is head of the church, and onlv wants the functions 
of high priest, because the nature of the church 
of Christ admits of no priestly body exclusively 
engaged in the sacridces, or in possession of the 
exclusive secrets, of the cult ^ But in the eve of the 
state, and as the head of a state clergy, he is the 
high priest, the authority in which ultimately even 
the parochial order centres and finds its comple- 
tion. He is an officer of the state ; the highest 
indeed and the noblest, but to the state he belongs 
as a part of itself : with us a commission of regency, 
a stranger or a woman may perform all the func- 
tions of royalty : the houses of parliament may 
Umit them ; a successful soldier may usurp them. 
With the early Germans, the king was something 
different from this. 

The inhabitants ot the Mark or Ga, however nu- 
merous or however lew they may be, must always 
have some provision for the exigencies of peace 
and war. But peace is the natural or normal state, 
that for which war itself exists, and the institu- 

* 1 Peter, ii. 5, 9. 

CH. vi.] THE KING. 139 

tions proper to war are the exception, not the rule. 
Hence the priestly and judicial functions are per- 
manent, — the military, merely temporary. The for* 
mer, whether united in the same person, or divided 
between two or more, are the necessary conditions 
of the existence of the state as a community ; the 
latter are merely requisite from time to time, to 
secure the free exertion of the former, to defend 
the existence of the community against the attacks 
of other communities. 

We may admit that the father is the first priest 
and judge in his own household ; he has, above all 
others, the sacerdotal secrets, and the peculiar rites 
of family worship ; these, not less than age, expe- 
rience and the dignity of paternity, are the causes 
and the justification of his power. The judicial 
is a corollary from the sacerdotal authority. But 
what applies to the individual household applies to 
any aggregate of households : even as the family 
worship and the family peace require the exertion 
of these powers for their own maintenance and 
preservation, so do the public worship and the 
public peace require their existence, though in a 
yet stronger degree. From among the heads of 
families some one or more must be elected to dis- 
charge the all-important functions which they im- 
ply. If the solemn festivals and public rites of the 
god are to be duly celebrated, if the anger of the 
thunderer is to be propitiated, and the fruits of the 
earth to be blessed, — if the wounded cattle are to be 
healed, the fever expelled, or the secret malice of 
evil spirits to be defeated, — who but the priest can 


lead the ceremooies and prescribe the ritual f Who 
but he can sanctify the transfer of land, the union 
of man and wife, the entrance of the newborn child 
upon his career of life ; who but himself can con- 
duct judicial investigations, where the deities are 
the only guardians of truth and avengers c^ perjury, 
or where their supernatural power alone can deter- 
mine between innocence and guilt i ? Lastly, who 
but he can possess authority to punish the freeman 
for offences dangerous to the wellbeing of all free- 
men ? To what power less than that of GSod will 
the freeman condescend to bow^ ? 

How then is it to be determined to whom such 
power, once admitted to be necessary, shall be at 
first entrusted ? The first claim clearlv lies with 
those who are believed to be descended from the 
gods, or from the local god of each particular dis- 
trict^. Thej' are his especial care, his children; 
he led them into the land, and gave them the secret 
of appeasing or pleasing him : he protects them by 
his power, and guides them by his revelations : he 
is their family and household god, the progenitor 
of their race, one of themselves ; and they are the 

' The various forms of the ordeal were undouhtedhr p*g«n» though 
retained hy the Christian communities of the Germans. 

' Even in war the general had not at first the power of punishing 
the freeman. The ver\' urgencies of mihtarv discipline were suhordi- 
nated to the divine authorit}* of the priests. "" Ehices exemplo podos 
quam imperio, si prompti, si conspicui, si ante aciem agant, admin- 
tione praesunt. Ceterum neque animadvertere. neque vincire, ne ver- 
berare quidem nisi sacerdotibus permissum ; non quasi in poenam, ncc 
ducis jussu, sed velut deo imperante, quem adesse beUantibus credunt." 
Tac. Germ. xii. 

' '* Diis genitoa sacroaque reges." Tac. Ormt. 12. 

CH. VI.] THE KING. 141 

best, indeed the only, expounders of his will. A 
single family, with which others have by slow de- 
grees united themselves, by which others have been 
adopted, and which in process of time have thus 
become the nucleus of a state, will probably remain 
in possession of this sacerdotal power ; the god of 
the land does not readily give place to others, and 
those with whom his worship identifies him will 
continue to be his priests long after others have 
joined in their ceremonies. Or it is possible that 
a single household wandering from a more civiUzed 
community may be admitted among a rude people, 
to whom they impart more perfect methods of til- 
lage, more efficient medical precepts, more impar- 
tial maxims of law, better or more ornamental 
modes of architecture, or more accurate computa- 
tions of time, than they had previously possessed : 
the mysterious courses of the stars, the secrets of 
building bridges \ towers and ships, of ploughing 
and of sowing, of music and of heaUng, have been 
committed to them by their god : for the sake of 
the benefits they offer, their god is received into 
the community ; and they remain his priests be- 
cause they alone are cognizant of, and can conduct, 
the rites wherewith he is to be served. 

Even in periods so remote as not to be con- 
founded with those of national migrations, a small 
body of superior personal strength, physical beauty, 
mental organization, or greater skill in arms, may 

' It is a curious fact that Pontifex, literally the bridge-maker, should 
be the generic Latin name for a priest. At Athens there was a gens of 
y€<twpaioi : were these ever a sacerdotal tribe ? 

142 THE S.iXOXS IN ENGLAND. [book !• 

establish a preponderance over a more numerous 
but less favoured race : in such a case they will 
probably join the whole mass of the people, recei- 
ving or taking lands among them, and they will 
by right of their superiority constitute a noble, 
sacerdotal, royal race, among a race of freemen ^ 
They may introduce their religion as well as their 
form of government, as did the Dorians in the Pelo- 
ponesus. Or if, as must frequently be the case, 
a compromise take place, they and their god will 
reserve the foremost rank, although the conquered 
or otherwise subjected people may retain a share 
in the state, and vindicate for their ancient deities 
a portion of reverence and cult : the gods of nature, 
of the earth and agriculture, thus vield for a while 
to the supremacy of the gods of mental cultivation 
and warlike prowess: Demeter gives way before 
Apollo, afterwards however to recover a portion of 
her splendour : Odinn obtains the soul of the war- 
rior and tliC freeman ; Dorr must content himself 
with that of the thrall. 

In all the cases described, — to which we mav add 
violent conquest by a migratory body, leaving only 
garrisons and governors behind it^, — the family or 
tribe which are the ruling tribe, are those in whom 
the highest rank, dignity, nobility and power are 
inherent : but unless some j>eculiar circumstances, 

■ 1 * * ■ ■• • • 

w.-rc .:<£.j ^7 .li,.-.. ;:_;«-r^»- tJ-f.. r-.? 3.^ .Vnst. Polit. I. Cap. 6. 

Bekker We cia} rvcember tht' Iiic^l» in Ptru- 

CH. VI.] THE KING. 143 

arising within the ruling tribe itself, limit the suc- 
cession to the members of one household, as for 
example among the Jews, the sanctity of the tribe 
will be general and not individual. They will be 
alone qualified to hold the high and sacred offices ; 
but the will of the whole state \ i. e. popular election, 
must determine which particular man shall be in- 
vested with their functions. Out of the noble race 
the election cannot indeed be made, but the choice 
of the individual noble is, at first, free. This is the 
simplest mode of stating the problem : history how- 
ever is filled with examples of compromise, where 
two or more noble tribes divide the supreme au- 
thority in even or uneven shares : two kings, for 
instance, represent two tribes of Dorians in the 
Spartan voXireia^. The seven great and heredi- 
tary ministerial houses in the German empire, the 
five great Ooloos of the Dooraunee Afghans, with 
their hereditary offices, represent similar facts. 
Among the old Bavarians, the Agilolfings could 
alone hold the ducal dignity, but three or four 
other families possessed a peculiar nobility, raising 
them nearly as much above the rest of the nobles, 

* The whole state may possihly consist only of the predominant 
tribe, as Dorians or lonians, or Anglosaxons : the rest of the popula- 
tion of the country may he perioecian as were the inhabitants of La- 
conia, and the British. The ruling tribe itself may have distinctions 
of rank ; as for instance the Ilypomeiones among the Spartans, the 
Ceorlas among the Anglosaxons. 

* The rule, reges ex nobilitafe, duces ex virtute, dyadov rivos v!r€p6xrj, 
applies in strictness to this case. Agis or Agesilaus might be gene- 
rals, but Brasidas could not have been a king. Descent from Heracles 
was to the Spartiate what descent from Woden was to the Saxon, — the 
condition of royalty. 

144 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

as the nobles were raised above the rest of the 
people. Under these circumstances the attributes 
of sovereignty may be continually apportioned : to 
one family it may belong to furnish kings or judges ; 
to another, generals ; to a third, priests^ ; or this 
division may have arisen in course of time, within 
a single family. Or again, the general may only 
have been chosen, pro re nata^ when the necessity 
of the case required it, from among the judges 
or priests, or even from among those who were 
not capable by birth of the judicial or sacerdotal 
power. We are able to refer to an 'instance in 
support of this assertion ; Beda^ says of the Old- 
saxons, that is, the Saxons of the continent : '' Non 
enim habent regem iidem antiqui Saxones, sed 
satrapas plurimos, suae genti praepositos, qui, in- 
gruente belli articulo, mittunt aequaliter sortes, et 
quemcumque sors ostenderit, hunc tempore belli 
ducem omnes sequuntur, huic obtemperant ; per- 
acto autem bello, rursum aequalis potentiae omnes 
fiunt satrapae." And this throws light upon what 
Tacitus asserts of the Germanic races generally*: 

* In the Dooraunee empire, the Suddozyes had the exclusive right 
to royalty. Sooja ul Moolk was the last of the race in Caubiil. The 
Essufzyes were hereditarv' viziers : the Banikzyes, the family of Dort 
Mahomet Khan, hereditary commanders in chief: the union of the 
vizierat with the military command in Dost Mahomet's father, led to 
the ultimate ruin of the Suddozye princes. In the Mogul empire, the 
great offices of state became hereditary, and the historians of India 
could speak of the Vizier of Oude, the Nizam, the Peishwa or theGui- 
cowar, long after the throne of Aiu^ngzeb had crumbled to the dust. 

^ Hist. Eccl. V. 10. iElfred translates the word satrapae by ealdof' 

' Germ. xii. 

IB. Ti.] THE KIXG. U:> 

" £Iiguntur in ilsdem conciliis et principes, qui iura 
per pa^os, vicosque redduiit." 

The early separation of the judicial from the 
strictly sacerdotal functions, to a certain degree at 
least, is easily conceived. It would be mere matter 
of convenience, as soon as a population became 
numerous and widely dispersed. Yet to a very late 
period among the Teutons we find traces of the 
higher character. The ordeal or judgement of God, 
the casting of lots and divination, are all derived 
from and conoected with priesthood. The heathen 
place of judgement was sanctified to the gods by 
priestly ceremonies; nor can it be supposed that 
the popular councils were held without a due in- 
auguration by religious rites, or a marked exertion 
of authority by the priests. Tacitus speaking of 
these parliaments makes the intervention of the 
priests the very first step to business : " Ut turbae 
placuit, considunt armati. Silentium per sacerdo- 
tes, quibus turn et coercendi ius est, imperatur'." 
The Witena-gemot of later times was opened by 
the celebration of mass*, and even yet Mr. Speaker 
goes to prayers. During the flourishing period 
of Cbristiauity among the Anglosaxons, synods of 
tlie bishops and their clergy were commanded to be 
held twice a year, to act as supreme courts of jus- 

> "QiudBm die multi tam Dobiles qunm privati pniao mnac od i|i- 
(Dm locum pliicitattui couvenenint ; scd ante placituni ut PrL'sbjter 
tit ta'iraam cclebmret rognverunt. At illc, qui ipsa node cam uxorc 
darmierat, ad sncnmi altnris ofliFiutn nrcedere fonniilabat; itoqiie ut- 
giTJt se id factiiruni." etc. about (m. l')45. Sim. Diineim. Hist. Ei'cl. 
Dun. CBji. ilv. (lib. iii. can. ^"- l'* ^''''- ''•''■ °* I'-'-'-l 
VOL, I. I. 

146 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

tice, at least in civil causes ^ The law of the Visi- 
goths, while it recognizes a separation of the per- 
sons, implies a confusion of the jurisdiction : ** Si 
index vel sacerdos reperti fuerint nequiter iudi- 
casse^." The people, it is true, found the judge- 
ment or verdict, but the judge declared the laW| 
pronounced the sentence, and most probably super- 
intended the execution : in this he represented at 
once the justice of the god, and the collective power 
of the state. Thus then we may conclude that at 
first in every Mark, and more especially in every 
Ga or Scir, when various Marks had coalesced, 
there was found at least one man of a privileged 
family, who either permanently or for a time con- 
ducted the public affairs during peace, and was, 
from his functions, not less than his descent, nearly 
connected with the religion of the people and the 
worship of the gods : whether this man be called 
ealdorman, index , rex, satrapa or princepSy seems 
of little moment : he is the president of the free- 
men in their solemn acts, as long as peace is main- 
tained, the original King of the shire or small na- 
tion. If he be by birth a priest, and distinguished 
by military talents, as well as elected to be a judge, 
he unites all the conditions of kingship^: and, 
under such circumstances, he will probably not only 
extend his power over neighbouring communities, 

' If Donnigea is right in his view, the Frankish clei^ were to ex- 
ercise a similar jurisdiction in criminal causes of a grave nature. 
Dctitschcs Staatsrecht. p. 30. 

« Leg. Visig. ii. 1. § 23. 

' " Uic etenim et rex illis et pontifex ob suam peritiam habebctur, 
et in sua iustitia populos iudicabat." Jomandes. 

^ CK.n.] THE KING, H7 

but even render it permanent, if not hereditary, in 
his own : a similar process may take place, if the 
priest or judge be one, the general another, of the 
same household. We may conclude that the regal 
power grows out of the judicial and sacerdotal, and 
that, whether the military skill and authority be 
superadded or not, king is only another name for 
the judge of a small circuit '. It is only when many 
such districts have been combined, when many 
such smaller kings have been subdued by one more 
wise, more wealthy, powerful or fortunate than 
themselves, that the complete idea of the German 
kingdom developes itself: that the judicial, mili- 
tary, and even, in part, the priestly powers sink 
into a subordinate position, and the kingdom repre- 
sents the whole state, the freeraeu, the nobles, and 
the /o/crtVi/ or public law of both. It is thus that 
the king gains the ultimate and appellate juris- 
fiiction, the right of punishment, and the general 
conservancy of the peace, as well as the power of 
calling the freemen to arms (cynioges ban, cyninges 
Ijtware). When this process has taken place the 
former kings have become subreguli, prindpes, 
duces, ealdormen : they retain their nobility, their 
original purity of blood, their influence perhaps 
over their people ; but they have sunk into subor- 
dinate officers of a state, of which a king at once 
hereditary and elective is the head^ 

* " N«c potect aliquii iuilirart in temporalibns, nisi solua rex vel 
■uhilelegatui ; ipse nunqtie tx vlrtiite wcromenti ad hot specinlitcr 
obligatur, ct idea corouft insig;uitur, uC per mdicla populum regat litii 
mlrierttiiii." FltU, Ub. i. cap. 17- i 1. 

' " Le titie de roi ^tait primitiveinciit de nolle coni^uence chez les 


148 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book f. 

We are tolerably familiar with the fact that at 
least eight kingdoms existed at once in Saxon Eng- 
land ; bat many readers of English history have 
yet to learn that royalty was mnch more widely 
spread, even at the time when we hear bnt of 
eight, seven or six predominant kings : as this is 
a point of some interest, a few examples may not 
be amiss. 

It is probable that from the very earliest times 
Kent had at least two kings, whose capitals were 
respectively Canterbury and Rochester, the seat of 
two bishoprics ^ The distinction of East and West 
Kentings is preserved till the very downfall of the 
Saxon monarchy : not only do we know that Edd- 
ric and H16%bere reigned together ; but also that 
Wihtred and his son ^^elberht the Second did 
so*, (y swine is mentioned as a king of Kent du- 
ring the period when our general authorities tell 
us of Ecgberht alone* ; contemporary with him we 
have Swsebheard, another king^, and all these ex- 
tend into the period usually given to El^dric and 
H16«here. The later years of iE«elberht the Se- 
cond must have seen his power shared with Ead- 

barbares. Ennodins, eveque de Pmris, dit d'une armee du grand Th^ 
odoric I * II If aruit tant de rois dans cette arm^, que leur nombre itui 
au moins egal k celui des soldats qa*on pouvait nouirir avec les aub- 
■istances exigees des habitans du district oik elle campait.' " Kidielet, 
Hist. France, i. 198, note. 

' At a later period we find a duchy of the Meracware, or inhabit- 
ants of Romner marsh, and this is certainly in favour of a third Kent* 
iah kingdom. Malmsburv speaks of the rcguli whom .£5elberht had 
mbdued, and it is probable that these were pettr princes of Kent. De 
t. hb. l.§10. 

« Cod. Dipl. Nos. 72, 77, 86, 108. » Hnd. Xos. 8, 10, 30. 

« niid. Not. 14, 15. Beda, Hist. £cc. v. 8. 

, CH.VI.} 



berht', Eardwulf *, Sigiraed^ and Ecgberlit*, and Si- 
gir<ed deliberately calls himself Uing of half Kent. 
A very remarkable document of Eiidberht is pre- 
served in theTextus Roffensis*; after the king's own 
signature, in which he calls himself Rex Cantua- 
riorura, his nobles place their names, thus, " Ego 
Wilbaldus comites nieos confirmari et suhscribere 
feci : " and in the same words Diniheahac, Hosberht, 
Nothbalth, Banta, Ruta and Tidbalth sign. Now 
the fact of these persons having comites at all is 
only conceivable on the supposition that they were 
all royal, kings or sub-kings. That they were sub- 
ordinate appears from the necessity of the grant's 
being confirmed by jESelberht, which took place 
in presence of the grantor and grantee, and the 
Archbishop, at Canterbury. Among the kings of 
this small province are also named jE^elric, Heard- 
berht, Eadberht Pren^ and Ealhraund', the last 
prince, father of the celebrated Ecgberht of Wes- 

Araong the territories which at one time or other 
were incorporated with the kingdom of Mercia, one 
is celebrated under the name of Hwiccas : it com- 
prised the then diocese of Worcester. This small 
province not only retained its king till a late pe- 
riod', but had frequently several kings at once ; thus 

' CoA. Di|>l. No«. 85. lOfi. 107- ' Ibid. No. 96. 

' IWd. Nos. 110, 114. ' Ibid. No». 113. 132, 135, 160. 

* Ibid. No. 86. * Flor. Wig. nn. 794. 
' Flor. Wig. App. Wasex. 

* We Itne nght of the Hwiccian kiiif^ nbotit the time of OfTa's death 
or an. 796. In H02 we Lcnr iiiilccil of nu valilormim of tixe Uniccaa, 
but tbc Latin authorities trnoslatu this by dux. 

160 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

^CXsric^ and O'shere"; iE«elwea^d^ iE«elheard*, 
^^elric^ and in all probability O'swuda, between 
an. 704-709. A few years later, viz. between an. 
757 and 785, we find three brothers Ednberht®, 
Ealdred^ and Uhtred^ claiming the royal title in 
the same district, while Oflfa their relative swayed 
the paramount sceptre of Mercia. That other parts 
of that great kingdom had always formed separate 
states is certain : even in the time of Penda (who 
reigned from 626 to 656) we know that the Middle 
Angles were ruled by Peada, his son^, while Mere- 
wald, another son was king of the West Hecan or 
.people of Herefordshire ^^. In the important battle 
of Winwidfeld, where the fall of Penda perhaps 
secured the triumph of Christianity, we learn that 
thirty royal commanders fell on the Mercian side". 
Under iE^ilraed, Penda's son and successor, we 
find Beorhtwald calling himself a king in Mercia ^^. 
During the reign of Centwine in Wessex, we hear 
of a king, Baldred, whose kingdom probably com- 

» Cod. Dipl. No. 12. » ftid. Nos. 17, 36. 

' ftid. No. 56. * ftid. No. 63. 

* Ibid. No. 57. « Thid. Nos. 102, 105. 

^ n>id. Nos. 125, 131, 146. • Ibid. Nos. 117, 118, 128, 14a 

» Beda, Hist. Eccl. iii. 21. ^^ Flor. Wig. Append. Mercim. 

'^ Beda, Hist. Eccl. iii. 24. *' Inito ergo certamine, fugati sunt et 
caesi pagani, duces regii triginta qui ad auxilium Tenerant, pene onmes 
interfecti." The Saxon Chronicle is more detailed; an. 654: " H^ 
O'swiii c}'ng ofsloh Pendau c}'ng on Winwidfelda and Hittig cynebcama 
mid him ; and 'Sser wseron sume cyningas. Dsera sum wks JE«6elhere 
Annan bro^or, Eastengla cyninges.'* 

" Cod. Dipl. No. 26. Malmsbur}', it is true, says of him, " Non 
quidem rex potestate, sed subr^ulus in quadam regni parte.'' Vit. 
Aldhelmi. Ang. Sacra, ii. 10. But it was not to be expected tbal 
Malmsbury would understand such a royalty as Baldred'a. 

CB.VI.] THE KING. 161 

prised Sussex and part of Hampshire' ; at the same 
period also we find .^E^ilheard calling himself king 
of Wessex^ and perhaps also a brother jESilweard^ 
unless this be an error of transcription. Fri^uwald 
in a charter to the Monastery of Chertaey, men- 
tions the following suhreguli as concurring in the 
grant: O'sric, Wighard and iEBelwald'', 

There was a kingdom of Elmet in Yorkshire, 
and even till the tenth century one of Baraborough. 
The same facts might easily be shown of Eastan- 
gUa*, Essex and Nortburaberlaud, were it necessary; 
but enough seems to have been said to show how 
numerously peopled with kings this island, always 
fertilis tyrannorum", must have been in times where- 
of history lias no record. As a chronicler of the 
twelfth century has very justly said, " Ea tempes- 
tate venerunt multi et saepe de Germania, et oc- 
cupaverunt Eastangle et Mcrce sed necdum sub 
uno rege redacti erant. Plures autem proceres 
certatim regiones occupabant, unde innumerabilia 
bella fiebant : proceres vero, quia multi erant, no- 
mine carent'." 

From all that has preceded, it is clear that by 
the term King we must understand something very 
different among the Anglosaxons from the sense 

' Gul. aielilun. Ant. (iluat. mi. 681, pp. 308, 309. Cod. Dipl. 
Km. 20, 28,71,73. 

» Cod. Dipl- No. 76- ' Ibid. No. 73. " Ibid. No. 98?. 

* " If^tui rex uniu ibi erat aliqimndo, multi aliquando reguli." 
nemic. Hunt. lib. v. " Rex nutem EadmimdiiB ipsis tcmjioribus reg- 
lurit taper omnia rcgiw Esstanglonim." Bim. Diinelm. an. 870. 

' (U'oi a Kai nokvaiidpiimoi' rqv i^iroii.. ..^acrcXiit Tf Kai duMlimif 
woXXovc ix'f- Diud. Sic. \. H. 

' Hemic. Hunt. lib. ii. 

152 THE SAXOXS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

which we attach to the word : ODe principal differ- 
ence lies indeed in this, that the notion of territo- 
rial inflaence is never for a single moment involved 
in it. Tlie kings are kings of tribes and peoples, 
but never of the land they occupy, — ^kings of the 
Westsaxons, the Mercians or the Kentings, but not 
of Wessex, Mercia or Kent. So far indeed is this 
from being the case, that there is not the slight- 
est difficulty in forming the conception of a king, 
totally without a kingdom : 

** Solo rex Tcrbo, lodii tamen imp e l ito hit*" 

is a much more general description than the writer 
of the line imagined. The Norse traditions are full 
of similar facts^ The king is in truth essentially 
one with the people ; from among them he springs, 
by them and their power he reigns ; from them he 
receives his name ; but his land is like theirs, pri- 
vate property ; one estate does not owe allegiance 
to another, as in the feudal system : and least of 
all is the monstrous fiction admitted even for a 
moment, that the king is owner of all the land in a 

The Teutonic names for a king are numerous 
and various, especially in the language of poetry ; 
many of them are immediately derived from the 
words which denote the aggregations of the people 
themselves: thus from \>e6d, we have the Anglo- 
saxon Jxjoden ; from folc, the Old Norse Fylkr ; 
but the term which, among all the Teutons, pro- 

* Abbo de Bello Paris. Civit. Pert*, ii. 779- 

' Lmngebek. ii. 77* Dahlmami, Gesch. d. Daneiit p. 51. 

CB.VI.] THE KING. 153 

perly denotes this dignity, is derived from the fact 
which Tacitus notices, viz. the nobility of the king : 
the Anglosaxon cyning is a direct derivative from 
the adjective cyne, generosus, and this again from 
cyn, genua'. 

The main distinction between the king and the 
rest of the people lies in the higher value set upon 
his life, as compared with theirs: as the wergyld 
or life-price of the noble exceeds that of the free- 
man or the slave, so does the life-price of the king 
exceed that of the noble. Like all the people he 
has a money value, hut it is a greater one than is 
enjoyed by any other person in the state*. So 
again his protection (mund) is valued higher than 
that of any other: and the breach of his peace 
(cyuinges handsealde ivVS) is more costly to the 
wrong-doer. He is naturally the president of the 
Witena-gemot and the ecclesiastical synod, and the 
supreme conservator of (he public peace. 

To the king belonged the right of calling out the 
national levies, the posse comitatus, for purposes of 
attack or defence ; the privilege of recommending 
grave causes at least to the consideration of the 
tribunals ; the reception of a certain share of the 
fines legally inflicted on evil-doers, and of voluntary 
gifts from the free men ; and as a natural and rapid 
consequence, the levy of taxes and the appointment 
of fiscal officers. Consonant with his dignity were 

' The Old High Dutch woril ia Cliunini!; the Oh! Norse Konungr: 
the Gothic equifalent has not been found, but certainly wns Kunij^. 

' lu Kent. Mercio ami Wcsie:t, the kiDjE'i wergyld ivbc I20|)ouiid«: 
half belonged to hia family, hnlf to liis people. 

151 THE SAXONS IX ENGLAND. [book i. 

the ceremonies of bis recognition by the people, and 
the ontward marks of distinction which he bore : 
immediately upon his election he was raised upon 
a shield and exhibited to the multitude, who greet* 
ed him with acclamations^ : even in heathen times 
it is probable that some reUgious ceremony accom- 
panied the solemn rite of election and installation : 
the Christian priesthood soon caused the ceremony 
of anointing the new king, pertiaps as head of the 
church, to be looked upon as a necessary part of 
his inauguration. To him were appropriated the 
waggon and oxen^ ; in this he visited the several 
portions of his kingdom : traversed the roads, and 
proclaimed bis peace upon them ; and I am inclined 
to think, solemnly ascertained and defined the na* 
tional boundaries^, — a dutv svmboUcal in some 
degree, of his guardianship of the private bounda* 
ries. Among all the tribes there appear to have 
been some outward marks of royalty, occasionally 
or constantly borne : the Merwingian kings were 
distinguished by their long and flowing hair**, the 
Goths by a fillet or cap ; among the Saxons the 

* *' Lcratiu in regem : to cyninge ahafen," coiitinaed to be the words 
in use, long after the custom of really chairing the king had in all pro- 
babilitT ceased to be observed. 

' The Merwingian kings continued to use this : perfaapa not the Cft- 
rolings. Among the Anglosaxons I find no trace of it. 

' This duty of riding through the land, called by Grimm the '' landes 
bereisung" ^Deutsche Rechtsalterthiimer. p. 237). is probably alluded 
to by Beda in his accoimt of Eadwine. Hist. Eccl. ii. 16. 

* Btfuarow yap roir paariXcOo-c rwv ^pcyy^v ov wwtrorw n^ipttrBai, aXX* 
oKtiptKOfMai T€ fltruf f « naidmv dc i icai naprf*i>pffVTai aimis axamt €v fuika 
iwi ritw &fuav oi nkona^ux .... rovro d< wm€p re yya>pt<r/ia jccu ytpas c^oi- 
prnif r^ ^<rik€Uf ycvci (uvio^oi p§fi6fuimu, Agathias. bk. 1. 

\ ea.n.J 


cynehelm, or cynebeah, a circle of gold, wa» in use, 
and worn round the head. In the Ding or [jopular 
council he bore a. wand or etaft"; in wartime he was 
preceded by a banner or flag. The most precious 
however of all the royal rights, and a very jewel 
in the crown, was the power to entertain a comita- 
tus or collection of household retainers, a subject 
to be discussed in a subsequent chapter. 

The king, like all other freemen, was a landed 
possessor, and depended for nmch of his subsistence 
upon the cultivation of his estates'. In various 
parts of the country he held lands in absolute pro- 
perty, furnislied with dwellings and storehouses, in 
which the produce of his farms might be laid up, 
and from one to another of which he proceeded, 
as political exigencies, caprice, or the consumption 
of his hoarded stock rendered expedient. In each 
villa or wic was placed a bailitt", villicus, wicgertffa, 
whose business it was to watch over the king's in- 
terests, to superintend the processes of husbandry, 
and govern the labourers employed in production ; 
above all to represent the king as regarded the 
freemen and tbe officers of the county court. 

' " De victu ex regis iiraediis." " Di» is *>oiine seo lihtinge Be ic 
wjUe mUod folce i^beorgan Ce hig it 'Hyion midgmirehte WEcnm miles 
t6 swjSe. Dtrt ia 'Soaxui iL-roit. Cut ic bcbeode cnllam mioui getifaa 
Vast hi on ninBii agcnan rihtl'iM tiliaa 1 me mid 'Sim feonninD. i Svt 
Ilia) 1^ nata oe tvorf tu feormfultumc nau bini^c n'Unn biilan he nylf 
irille. Auil p( hva icftut Sim n-itc craiige bi-6 he his werea tcyldig wiS 
Seme cyolngi:." Caut, ^ Ixx. Thorpe, i. -1 12, 4\3. " I comuund nil 
my reeves xiat they justly provide [ror me] out of my own prD|)erty, 
•ail munUuu me therewith ; and that do man neeil give me sDythiug 
■• fann-kid (feormCultun]) tuileH he himsell' be willing." We here 
witness the nUml progress of oppression. 


The lot, share, or as we may call it re^cwc of 
the king, though thus divided, was extensive, aod 
comprised many times the share of the freeman : 
we may imagine that it origiDally, and under or- 
dinary circumstances would be calculated upon the 
same footing as the wergyid ; that if the life of the 
king was seventy-two times as valuable as that of 
the ceorl, his land would be seventy-two times as 
large ; if the one owned thirty, the otber would 
enjoy 2160 acres of arable land. But the comi- 
tatia offers a disturbing force, which, it will here- 
after be seen, renders this sort of calculation nuga- 
tory in practice ; and the experience of later periods 
clearly proves the king to have been a landowner 
in a very disproportionate degree. In addition to 
the produce of his own lands, however, the king 
was entitled to expect voluntary gifts in kind, 
naturalia, from the people, which are not only di- 
stinctly stated by Tacitus ' to have been so given, 
but are frequently referred to by early continental 
historians ^ In process of time, when these volun- 
tarj- gifts had been converted into settled payments 
or taxes, further voluntary aids were demanded, 
upon the visit of a king to a town or country, the 

' " Hos eat civitatibui ultra ac viritim coafenv phnFipibui rel ar- 
menlorum, vel frugum, quod pro bonore acceptum ctinm necooitstibus 
aubrenit ; gaudent proecipue fiuitimanim gentium douis, quae nou mod« 
a tinguli*, >ed publice mittuntur : electi eqiii, magna arma, phaleite, 
torqueaque j iam et pecuniam accipere docuinius." Mor. Germ. xv. 

' " In die autem Martis campa Kfundiim anlnqiiaui consiietudinein 
dotu illis rcgibua a {lopulo offcrebantur, et ipse rex wjilebat in lella 
n^ia, drcuDUtante excrcitu, ct loaior iloiuiis conm eo." on. 753. AunaL 
LBurishamenaea MiDores iPerlz. Monumenta, i. 116). See oilier iib'^ 
stances in Grimm's Deutsche RechtaalUrtbUmer, p. 24fi, c(c- 

CB. VI.] THE KING. nj 

marriage of a princess, or of the king himself, and 
other puhlic and solemn occasions ; from which in 
feudal times arose the custom of demanding aids 
from the tenants to knight the lord's son or marry 
his daughter. 

Another source of the royal revenue was a share 
of the booty taken in war, where the king and the 
freemen served together. The celebrated story of 
Clovis and the Soissous vase', proves that the king 
received his portion bv lot, as did the rest of his 
army ; but there is no reason to doubt that his 
share as much exceeded that of his comrades, as 
his wergyld and landed possessions were greater 
than theirs. 

As conservator of the pubhc peace, the king was 
entitled to a portion of the fines inflicted on cri- 
minals, and the words in which Tacitus mentions 
this fact show that he was in this function the re- 
presentative of the whole state* : it is a prerogative 
derived from his executive power. And similar to 
this is his right to the forfeited lands of felons, 
which, if they were to be forfeited, could hardly be 
placed in other hands than those of the king, as 
representative of the whole state^. 

> Gn^. Turon. ii. 27. 

' " Scil et levioriLus delictis pro moilo poenarum equorum peconiiO' 
qae aumero convicti multautiir, pars mullae rcgi vel civitati, jiara ipsi 
qui vindioatiir vd ]iropinqius tius exsolvitur." Mor. Germ. xii. 

* " Unam mauaam qiiam fiir qiiidtuu ante [xisscilernt, a rege pum 
triginta mancusis auri emit." Coil. Dipl. No. 581), Bishop Deneniilf* 
bail leaieil landu to a relative named ^Elfred. for a iixcd rent. " la 
cquidem iniipieiis adulterans atuprum, projiriam religiose pactatam 
abuminana, xcortum diligeiia, libidinoee commisit. Quo rvatu omiii 
lubMantift iweiiliali rede |irivatU8 est, ct pradiituui rus ab uo abs- 


In proportion as this idea gains ground, the in- 
fluence of the king in every detail of public life ne- 
cessarily increases, and the regaUa or royal rights 
become more varied and numerous : he is looked 
upon as the protector of the stranger, who has no 
other natural guardian, inasmuch as no stranger 
can be a member of any of those associations which 
are the guarantee of the freeman. He has the sole 
right of settling the value and form of the medium 
of exchange : through his power of calling out the 
armed force, he obtains rights which can only con* 
sist with martial law, — even the right of life and 
death ^ : the justice of the whole country flows from 
him : the establishment of fiscal officers dependent 

tractum rex huius patriae suae (litioni andus devenire iniuste optavit.*' 
Cod. Dipl. No. 601 . The injustice complained of is in the king's seizing 
lands that were really not the ofiender's : hut so strong was the lunges 
right, that the church was obliged to buy back its own land for one 
hundred and twenty mancusses of gold. That these forfeitures resulted 
from a solemn judicial act admits of no doubt. In 1002, a lady who 
owned lands was found guilty of fornication, her lands were forfeited, 
and made over to the king, in the language of the instrument, " vulgari 
traditione." Cod. Dipl. No. 1296. In 938 ^^clstan gave seven hides of 
land to the church at Winchester : '* istanim autem vii mansarum quan- 
titas iusto valde iudicio totius populi, seniorum et primatum, ablata fiiit 
ah eis qui eorum iK)sse$sorcs fuerunt, quia nperto crimine furti usque ad 
mortem obnoxii inventi sunt ; ideoque decrctum est ab omni populo ut 
hbri illorum, quos ad has terras habebant, aetcmaliter dampnarentur," 
etc. Cod. Dipl. No. 1002. /ESelsige stole iESelwino's swine : his land at 
Dumbleton was accordingly forfeited to the king. " i man ger^te 
.£«elrede cyninge "bst land ^ sehte." Cod. Dipl. No. 692. The law of 
the Ripuarian Franks seems to have been somewhat different : see Tit. 
§ Ixxix. de homine penduto et eius hcreditate ; and Eichhom, i. 269. 

' I may again refer to the story of the vase at Soissons. Clovis put the 
soldier to death on pretext of a breach of discipline ; in reality, because 
the man had opposed him with respect to the booty. But, except in the 
field, it is not to be imagined that Clovis could have taken his life ; and 
certainly not without a legal conviction and condemnation by the people. 

CH. VI.] THE EING. 169 

upon himself places the private possessions of the 
freeman at his disposal. The peculiar conservancy 
of the peace, and command over the means of in- 
ternal communication enable him to impose tolls 
on land- and water-carriage : he is thus also em- 
powered to demand the services of the freemen to 
receive and conduct travelling strangers, heralds or 
ambassadors from one royal vill to another ; to de- 
mand the aid of their carts and horses to carry 
forage, provisions or building-materials to his royal 
residence. Treasure-trove is his, because where 
there is no owner, the state claims the accidental 
advantage, and the king is the representative of 
the state. It is part of his dignity that he may 
command the aid of the freemen in hia hunting 
and fishing ; and hence that he may compel them 
to keep his hawka and hounds, and harbour or 
feed his huntsmen. As head of the church he has 
an important influence in the election of bishops, 
even in the establishment of new sees, or the aboli- 
tion of old established ones. His authority it is 
that appoints the duke, the gere'fa, perhaps evea 
the members of the Witena-gemdt. Above all, he 
has the right to divest himself of a portion of these 
attributes, and confer them upon those whom he 
pleases, in difi'erent districts. 

The complete description of the rights of Royalty, 
in aU their detail, will find a place in the Second 
Book of this work ; they can only be noticed cur- 
sorily here, inasmuch as they appertain, in strict- 
ness, to aperiod in which the monarchical spirit, and 
the institutions proper thereto, had become firmly 

1«) THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

settled, and applied to every part of our social 
scheme. But whatever extension they may have 
attained in process of time, they have their origin 
in the rights permitted to the king, even in the re- 
motest periods of which we read. 

There cannot be the least doubt that many of 
them were usurpations, gradual developments of an 
old and simple principle ; and it is only in periods 
of advanced civilization that we find them alluded 
to. Nevertheless we must admit that even at the 
earliest recorded time in our history, the kings 
were not only wealthy but powerful far beyond any 
of their fellow-countrymen. All intercourse with 
foreign nations, whether warlike or peaceful, tends 
to this result, because treaties and grave affairs of 
state can best be negotiated and managed by single 
persons : a popular council may be very properly 
consulted as to the final acceptance or rejection of 
terms ; but the settlement of them can obviously 
not be beneficially conducted by so unwieldy a 
multitude. Moreover contracting parties on either 
side will prefer having to do with as small a num- 
ber of negotiators as possible, if it be only for the 
greater dispatch of business. Accordingly Tacitus 
shows us, on more than one occasion, the Senate 
in communication with the princes, not the popu- 
lations of Germany ^ : and this must naturally be 
the case where the aristocracy, to whose body the 

> " Angandcstrii, principLs Cattorum, lectas in Senatu litems." Annal. 
ii. 8S. ** Maroboduum. . . . per dona et Icgationes pctivisse foedna.'* 
Annal. ii. 45. ** Misitque legates ad Tiberium oraturos auxilia." 

CH. VI.] THE KING. 161 

king belongs, have the right of taking the initiative 
in public business ^ 

But although we find a great difierence in the 
social position, wealth and power of the king, and 
those of the noble and freeman, we are not to ima- 
gine that he could at any time exercise his royal 
prerogatives entirely at his royal pleasure' : held in 
check by the universal love of Uberty, by the rights 
of his fellow nobles, and the defensive alliances of 
the freemen^ he enjoyed indeed a rank, a splendour 
and an influence which placed him at the head of 
his people, — a limited monarchy, but happier than 
a capricious autocracy : and the historian who had 
groaned over the vices and tyranny of Tiberius, 
Nero and Domitian, could give the noble boon of 
his testimony to the eternal memory of the bar- 
harous Axminius. 

' " De minoribus rebus principes consultant ; de maioribus omnes : 
ita tamen, ut ea quoque, quorum penes plebem arbitrium est, apud 

principes pertractentur Mox rex vel princeps, prout aetas cuique, 

prout nobilitas, prout decus bellorum, prout facundia est, audiuntur, 
auctoritate suadendi magis quam iubendi potestate." Mor. Germ. xi. 

' '* Nee regibus infinita, nee libera potestas." Mor. Germ. vii. *' Auc- 
tore Verrito et Malorige, qui nationem eam regebant, in quantum Ger- 
man! regnantur." Tac. Annal. xiii. 54. 

' ** Ceterum Arminius, abscedentibus Romanis et pulso Maroboduo, 
regnum adfectans, libertatem popularium adversam habuit, petitusque 
armis, cum varia fortuna certaret, dolo propinquorum cecidit." Tac. 
Annal. ii. 88. 

VOL. I. M 




I HAVE called the right to entertain a ComUatuaf 
or body of household retainers, a very jewel in the 
crown : it was so because it formed, in process oi 
time, the foundation of all the extended powers 
which became the attributes of royalty, and finally 
succeeded in establishing, upon the downfall of the 
old dynasts or nobles by birth, a new order of nobles 
bv service, whose root was in the crown itself. A 
close investigation of its gradual rise, progress and 
ultimate development, will show that the natural 
basis of the Comitatus is in the superior wealth and 
large possessions of the prince. 

In all ages of the world, and under all condi- 
tions of society, one profound problem has pre- 
sented itself for solution ; viz. how to reconcile the 
established divisions of property with the necessities 
of increasing population. Experience teaches ns 
that under almost any circumstances of social being, 
a body of men possessed of sufficient food and 
clothing have been found to increase and multiply 
with a rapidity far too great to be balanced by the 
number of natural or violent deaths : and it follows 
therefore that in every nation which has established 


a settled number of households upon several estates, 
each capable of supporting but one household in 
comfort, the means of providing for a surplus po- 
pulation must very soon become an object of gene- 
ral difficulty. If the paternal estate be reserved for 
the support of one son, if the paternal weapons 
descend to him, to be used in the feuds of his house 
or the service of the state, what is to become of the 
other sons who are excluded from the benefits of 
the succession ? In a few instances we may ima- 
gine natural affection to have induced a painful, and 
ultimately unsuccessful, struggle to keep the family 
together : here and there cases may have occurred 
in which a community was fortunate enough from 
its position, to possess the means of creating new 
estates to suit the new demand : and conquest, or 
the forcible partition of a neighbouring territory, 
may have supplied a provision for the new gene- 
ration. Tacitus indeed tells us^ that '^ numerum 
liberorum finire aut quemqu^m ex agnatis necare, 
flagitium habetur : " yet tradition contradicts this, 
and speaks of the exposure of children immediately 
after birth, leaving it to the will of the father to 
save the life of the child or not^. And similarly 
the tales of the North record the solemn and vo- 
luntary expatriation of a certain proportion of the 
people, designated by lot, at certain intervals of 
time'. However, in the natural course of things, 

* Mor. Germ. xix. ' Grimm, Rechtsalt. p. 455. 

' '* Cumque, ut dixi, give parum compluta humo, seu nimium torrida, 
torpentibos satis, ac parce fhictificantibus campis, inediae languor de- 
fectam eacia regionem attereret, nullumque, parum suppetentibua ali- 

M 2 


he who cannot find subsistence at home most seek 
it abroad ; if the family estate will not supply him 
mth support, he must strive to obtain it from the 
bounty or necessities of others : for emigration has 
its own heavy charges, and for this he would re- 
quire assistance ; and in a period such as we are de- 
scribing, trade and manufacture ofier no resources 
to the surplus population. But all the single hides 
or estates are here considered as included in the 
same category, and it is only on the large posses- 
sions of the noble that the poor freeman can hope 
to live, without utterly forfeiting everything that 
makes life valuable. Some sort of service he must 
yield, and among all that he can ofier, military 
service, the most honourable and attractive to 
himself, is sure to be the most acceptable to the 
lord whose protection he requires. 

The temptation to engage in distant or dangerous 
warlike adventures may not appear very great to 
the agricultural settler, whose continuous labour 
will only wring a mere sufficiency from the soil he 
owns. It is with resjret and reluctance that such 
a man will desert the land he has prepared or 
the crops he has raised, even when the necessity 

mentis, trahendae famis 8U|)ere8set auxilium, Aggone atque Ebbone 
auctoribus, plebiscito provisum est, ut senibus et parvulis caesis, om- 
nique demum imbeili aetate regno egesta, robustis duntaxat patria 
donaretur ; nee nisi aut armis, aut agris colendis babiles domestic! larii 
patemorumque penatiiim habitacula retinerent." By the advice how- 
ever of Gambara, they cast lots, and a portion of the people emigrate. 
'* Igitur omnium fortunis in sortem couicctis, qui designabantur, ex- 
torres adiudicati sunt." Saxo Gram. p. 159. Under similar circum- 
stances, according to Geofin- of Monmouth, Hengest came to Britain. 


of self-defence calls the community to arms : far 
otherwise however is it with him who has no means 
of living by the land, or whom his means place 
above the necessity of careful, unremitting toil. The 
prince, enriched by the contributions of his fel- 
low-countrymen, and the presents of neighbouring 
states or djmasts, as well as master of more land than 
he requires for his own subsistence, has leisure for 
ambition, and power to reward its instruments. On 
the land which he does not require for his own 
cultivation, he can permit the residence of freemen 
or even serfs, on such conditions as may seem ex- 
pedient to himself or endurable to them. He may 
surround himself with armed and noble retainers, 
attracted by his liberality or his civil and military 
reputation ^ whom he feeds at his own table and 
houses under his own roof ; who may perform even 
servile duties in his household, and on whose aid 
he may calculate for purposes of aggression or de* 
fence. Nor does it seem probable that a community 
would at once discover the infinite danger to them- 
selves that lurks in such an institution : far more 
frequently must it have seemed matter of congra- 
tulation to the cultivator, that its existence spared 
him the necessity of leaving the plough and harrow 
to resist sudden incursions, or enforce measures of 
internal police ; or that the strong castle with its 

* " Ermt autem res Oswini et aspectu venustus, et statura sublimis, 
et affatu iucundus, et moribus civilis, et manu omnibus, id est nobi- 
libus simul atque ignobilibaa, largus : unde contigit ut ob regiam eius et 
animi, et vultos, et mentorum dignitatem, ab omnibus diligeretur, et 
nndique ad eius ministerium de cunctis prope provinciis viri etiam 
nobiliasiiiii ooncurrerent." Bed. H. £. iii. 14. 

166 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

band of ever-watchful defenders, existed as a gar- 
rison near the disputable boundary of the Mark. 

The Germania of Tacitus supplies us with a de- 
tailed account of the institution of the Comitatus, 
which receives strong confirmation on every point 
from what we gather from other authentic sources. 
In his own words : — 

" Illustrious birth or the great services of their 
fathers give the rank of princes even to young 
men : thev are associated with the rest who have 
already made proof of their greater powers. Nor is 
there any shame in appearing among the comites^ 
Moreover, the Comitatus itself has its grades, ac- 
cording to the judgement of him they follow ; and 
great is the emulation among the comites, as to 
who shall hold the highest place in the estimation 
of the prince, and among the princes, as to who 
shall have the most numerous and the bravest 
comites. This is dignity, this is power, to be ever 
surrounded with a troop of chosen youths, a glory 
in time of peace, and a support in war. Nor is it 
only in their own tribe, but in the neighbouring 
states as well, a name and glory, to be distinguished 
for the number and valour of the comitatus ; for 
they are courted with embassies, and adorned with 
presents, and keep oflf wars by their very reputa- 
tion. When it comes to fighting, it is dishonour- 
able for the prince to be excelled in valour, for the 
comitatus not to equal the valour of the prince; 
but infamous, and a reproach throughout life, to 

* This very assertion proves that the position of the comes was, m 
itself, inferior to that of the fireemmn. 


return from battle the survivor of the prince. To 
defend and protect him, to reckon to his glory even 
one's own brave deeds, this is the first and holiest 
duty. The princes fight for victory, the comites 
for the prince. If the state in which they spring is 
torpid with long peace and ease, the most of these 
young nobles voluntarily seek such nations as may 
be engaged in war, partly because inaction does 
not please this race, partly because distinction is 
more easy of attainment under difficulties. Nor 
can you keep together a great comitatus, save by 
violence and war : since it is from the liberality of 
the prince that they exact that war-horse, that 
bloody and victorious lance. For feasts and meals, 
ample though rude, take the place of pay. Wars 
and plunder supply the means of munificence ; nor 
will you so readily persuade them to plough the 
land or wait with patience for the year, as to chal- 
lenge enemies and earn wounds; seeing that it 
seems dull and lazy to acquire with sweat what 
you may win with blood *." 

It would be difficult in a few lines to give any- 
thing like so clear and admirable an account of the 
peculiarities of the Comitatus, as Tacitus has left 
us in this vigorous sketch ; and little remains but to 
show how his view is confirmed by other sources 
of information, and to draw the conclusions which 
naturally result from these premises. 

To the influence and operation of these associa- 
tions are justly attributed not only the conquests of 
the various tribes, but the most important modifi- 

' Mor. Genn.'Xiii. xiv. 

168 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

cations in the law of the people. As the proper 
name for the freeman is ceorl, and for the bom-noble 
eorl, so is the true word for the comes, or comrade, 
gesi¥. This is in close etymological connection with 
s]%, a journey, and literally denotes one who ac- 
companies another. The functions and social po- 
sition of the gesi¥ led however to another appella- 
tion : in this peculiar relation to the prince, he is 
]>egn, a thane, strictly and originally a servant or 
minister, and only noble when the service of royalty 
had shed a light upon dependence and imperfect 
freedom. Beowulf describes himself as the relative 
and thane of Hygelac : but his royal blood and tried 
valour make him also the head of a comitatus, and 
he visits Heort with a selected band of his own 
comrades, swaese gesi^as : they, like himself, be- 
long however to his lord, and are described as Hy- 
gelac's beodgeneatas, heor^geneatas (tischgenossen, 
heerdgenossen) , sharers in the monarch's table and 
hearth. A portion of the booty taken in war na- 
turally became the property of the gesi^as ; this 
almost follows from the words of Tacitus; and 
Saxo Grammaticus, who in this undoubtedly ex- 
presses a genuine fact, although after a peculiar 
fashion of his own, says of one of his heroes', 
** Proceres non solum domesticis stipendiis cole- 
bat, sed etiam spoliis ex hoste quaesitis : affirmare 
solitus, pecuniain ad milites, gloriam ad ducem re- 
dundare debere." And again*, ** Horum omnium 
clientelam rex liberali familiaritate coluerat. Nam 
primis apud eum honoribus, habitum, cultos auro 

> Hist. Dan. p. 6. > Ibid. p. 144. 


gladios, opimaque bellorum praemia perceperunt/' 
Thus also Hialto sings S 

" Dulce est nos domino percepta rependere dona, 
Aoceptare enaes, fkmaeque impendere femim. 

Enses tbeutonici, galeae, armillaeque nitentes, 
Loricae talo imminae, quas contulit olim 
Rolvo suis, memores acuant in praelia mentes. 
Res petit, et par est, quaecumque per otia summa 
Nacti pace sumus, belli ditione mereri.' 


The same amusing author tells us- bow on some 
occasion, in consequence of there being no queen in 
a court, the comites were ill supplied with clothes, 
a difficulty which they could only provide against 
by inducing their king to marry : ** Igitur contu- 
bemales Frothonis circa indumentorum usum fe- 
minea admodum ope defecti, quum non haberent 
unde nova assuere, aut lacera reficere possent, 
regiem celebrandi coniugii monitis adhortantur." 
There seems no reason to doubt the fact thus re- 
corded, however we may judge respecting its oc- 
currence in the time of Frotho. Similarly when 
Siegfried set out upon his fatal marriage expedition 
into Burgundy, he and his twelve comrades were 
clothed by the care of the royal Siglint^. From this 
relation between the prince and the comites, are 
derived the names appropriated to the former in 
the epopoea, of hlaford, lord, literally bread-giver : 
sinces brytta, bedga brytta, distributor of treasj/ire, 
rings ; sincgifa, treasure-giver, and the like. It is 
clear also that a right to any share in the booty 
could not be claimed by the gesi¥, as it undoubt- 

1 Sax« Oram. Hist. Dan. p. 33, ^ Hist. Dan. p. 68. 

' Nibeliioge N^. 66. p. 10 Lachman. 

170 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

ediy could by the free soldier in the Hereban, but 
depended entirely upon the will of the chief, and 
his notions of policy : a right could not have been 
described as the result of his liberality. In the hi- 
storical time of Charlemagne vie have evidence of 
this > : ' ' Quo accepto .... idem vir prudentissimus 
idque largissimus et Dei dispensator magnam inde 
partem Romam ad limina Apostolorum misit per 
Angilbertum dilectum abbatem suum ; porro reli- 
quam partem obtimatibus, clericis sive laicis, cae- 
terisque fidelibus suis largitus est:" or, as it is 
still more clearly expressed in the annals of Egin- 
hart^, '' reliquum vero inter optimates et aulicos, 
caeterosque in palatio suo militantes, liberali manu 
distribuit." And similarly we are told of ^%el- 
stan : '* Praeda quae in castro reperta fuerat, et ea 
quidem amplissima, magnifice et viritim divisa. 
Hoc enim vir ille animo imperaverat suo, ut nihil 
opum ad crumenas corraderet ; sed omnia conqui- 
sita, vel monasteriis, vel fidelibus suis, munificus ex- 
penderet^" The share of the freeman who served 
under his ger^fa, and not under a lord, was his own 
by lot, and neither by largitio nor liberalitas^ — a 
most important distinction, seeing that where ail 
was left to the arbitrary disposition of the chief, 
the subservience of the follower would very natu- 
rally become the measure of his liberality. 

The relation of the Comites was one of fealty : 
it was undertaken in the most solemn manner, 

* Annal. Laurisb. an. 796. Pertz, Mon. Germ. i. 182. 

' An. 796. Pertz, i. 183. 

' Gul. Meldun. Gest. Reg. i. 213, § 134. 


and with appropriate, symbolic ceremonies, out of 
which, in later times, sprung homage and the 
other incidents of feudality. All history proves 
that it was of the most intimate nature ; that even 
life itself was to be sacrificed without hesitation if 
the safety of the prince demanded it : the gesiVas 
of Be6wulf expose themselves with him to the at- 
tack of the fiendish Grendel ^ ; Wiglaf risks his own 
life to assist his lord and relative in his fatal con- 
test with the firedrake^ ; and the solemn denuncia- 
tion which he pronounces against the remaining 
comites who neglected this duty, recalls the words 
of Tacitus, and the infamy that attached to the sur- 
vivors of their chief' : 

Hd tceal sincjiego How shall the service of treasure 

and swyrdgyfii, and the gift of swords, 

eall ^Selwyn, all joy of a paternal inheritance, 

e6wmm cynne all support 

tnfen iUicgean : ful your kin : 

londrihtes mot of the rights of citizenship must 

"Ssere msgburge every one 

moima iSghwilc of your family 

Sdd hweor£ui, go about deprived, 

si95an sfSelingas when once the nobles 

feorran gefncgean far and wide shall hear 

ildan e6wemc. of your Bight, 

ddmledsan dsd. your dishonourable deed. 

De4t$ bi'S sella Death is better 

eorla gehwylcum for every warrior 

iknme edwitiif. than a life of shame. 

But we are not compelled to draw upon the stores 
of poetry and imaginative tradition alone : the sober 
records of our earlier annalists supply ample evi- 
dence in corroboration of the philosophical historian. 

1 Be6wulf, 1. 1582 seq. ' Ibid. 1. 5262 seq,, 5384 seq, 

• ftid. L 6763. 



[book 1. 

When Cwichelm of Wessex sent an assassin to cut 
off Eaduuini of Northumberland, that prince was 
saved by the devotion of his thane Lilia» who threw 
himself between, and received the blow that was 
destined for his master ; in the words of Beda^ : 
'' Quod cum videret Lilla minister regis amicissi- 
mus, non habens scutum ad manum quo regem a 
nece defenderet, mox interposuit corpus suum ante 
ictum pungentis ; sed tanta vi hostis ferrum infixit, 
ut per corpus militis occisi etiam regem vulneraret/' 
Again we learn that in the year 786, Cyneheard, 
an aetheiing of Wessex, who had pretensions to the 
crown, surprised the king Cynewulf at the house 
of a paramour at Merton, and there slew him. He 
proffered wealth and honours to the comites of the 
king, which they refused, and with small numbers 
manfully held out till every one had fallen. On the 
following morning a superior force of the king's 
thanes came up : to them again the aetheiing offered 
land and gold, but in vain : he was slain on the 
spot with all his own comites, who refused to desert 
him in his extremity. This is the account given 
of these facts in the words of the Saxon Chronicle 

And tSa gebemd he him heorm agen* 
ne dom fcos mod londes, gif hie 
him 9tn rices litSon. and him cr^ 
de, ^iwi heora msgms him mid 
wvron. {^ Se him from noldon. 
And 5a cwiedon hie, i^xt him ns- 
nig xwg leofra mere iSonne heora 
hlafbrd, and hie n«fre his hanan 

And then he offered them their 
own desire of money and land, if 
thev would grant him the king* 
dom, and he told them that their 
own relatires were with him, who 
would not desert him. Then aid 
thev. that no relative was dearer 
to them than their lord, and that 

> Hist. £cc. ii. 9. 

Chron. Sax. an. 765. 


ibigiaii noldon. And tSa budon hie they never would follow his mur- 
heoramjEginmtethiehimgesunde derer. And then they offered 
from e6don. And hie cwsdon, their relatives that they should 
fet tet ilea heora geferum gebo- leave him, with safety for them- 
den wm iSe mr mid "fHai cyninge selves : but they said, that the 
wi^ron ; t$set hie hie "Saes ne on- same offer had been made to their 
mnnden, i$on mi iSe edwre geferan own comrades who at first were 
t$e mid 5im cyninge ofslsegene with the king : that they paid no 
WKron. more attention to it, than your 

comrades who were slaughtered 

with the king. 

^thelweard, Florence of Worcester, and Henry of 
Huntingdon all follow the chronicle, which in some 
details they apparently translate. Malmsbury seems 
to adopt the same account, but adds a few words 
which have especial reference to this portion of the 
argument^: ** quorum (i. e. coraitum) qui maximus 
aevo et prudentia Osricus, caeteros cohortatus ne 
necem domini sui in insignem et perpetuam suam 
ignominiam inultam dimitterent, districtis gladiis 
coniuratos irruit.'* 

It is obvious that from this intimate relation be- 
tween the prince and the gesiW must arise certain 
reciprocal rights and duties, sanctioned by cus- 
tom, which would gradually form themselves into a 
code of positive law, and ultimately affect the state 
and condition of the freemen. In the earliest de- 
velopment of the Comitatus, it is clear that the 
idea of freedom is entirely lost : it is replaced by 
the much more questionable motive of honour, or 
to speak more strictly, of rank and station. The 
comes may indeed have become the possessor of 
land, even of very large tracts*, by gift from his 

' Gest. Reg. i. § 42. » Beowulf, I. 6984 seq. 


prince ; but he could not be the possessor of a free 
Hide, and consequently bound to service in the 
general fyrd, or to suit in the folcmdt : he might 
have wealth, and rank and honour, be powerful 
and splendid, dignified and influential, but he could 
not be free : and if even the freeman so far forgot 
the inherent dignity of his station as to carry him- 
self (for his &6q\ I think he could not carry) into the 
service of a prince, — an individual man, although 
a prince, and not as yet the state, or the represen- 
tative of the state, — can it be doubted that the re- 
munerative service of the chief would outweigh the 
barren possession of the farmer, or that the festive 
board and adventurous life of the castle would soon 
supply excuses for neglecting the humbler duties 
of the popular court and judicature ? Even if the 
markmen razed him from their roll, and committed 
his ^^el to a worthier holder, what should he care, 
whom the liberality of his conquering leader could 
endow with fifty times its worth ; and whose total 
divorce from the vulgar community would probably 
be looked upon with no disfavour by him who had 
already marked that community for his prey ? Nor 
could those whom the gesi^ in turn settled upon 
lands which were not within the general mark-juris- 
diction, be free markmen, but must have stood to- 
wards him in somewhat the same relation as he 
stood to his own chief. Upon the plan of the larger 
household, the smaller would also be formed: the 
same or similar conditions of tenure would prevail ; 
and the services of his dependants he was no doubt 
bound to hold at the disposal of his own lord, and 


to maintain for his advantage. We have thus, even 
in the earliest times, the nucleus of a standing 
army, the means and instruments of aggrandize- 
ment both for the King and the praetorian cohorts 
themselves ; practised and delighting in battle, ever 
ready to join in expeditions which promised adven- 
ture, honour or plunder, feasted in time of peace, 
enriched in time of war ; holding the bond that 
united them to their chief as more sacred and strin- 
gent than even that of blood \ and consequently 
ready for his sake to turn their arms against the 
free settlers in the district, whenever his caprice, his 
passion or his ambition called upon their services. 
In proportion as his power and dignity increased 
by their efforts and assistance, so their power and 
dignity increased : his rank and splendour were re- 
flected upon all that surrounded him, till at length 
it became not only more honourable to be the un- 
free chattel of a prince, than the poor, free culti- 
vator of the soil, but even security for possession 
and property could only be attained within the 
compass of their body. As early as the period 
when the Prankish Law was compiled, we find the 
great advantage enjoyed by the Comes over the 
Free Salian or Ripuarian, in the large proportion 
borne by his wergyld, in comparison with that of 
the latter^. 

The advantage derived by the community from 

^ JSUred excepts the lord, while he defines the cases in which a man 
may give armed assistance to his relative. The rijslit of private feud 
is not to extend to that sacred obligation of fealty. LI. ^If. § 42. 

' U. Sdic Tit. Ivii. cap. U 2. U. Bip. liii. c^p. 1, 2. 

176 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

the presence and protection of an armed force such 
as the gesi^as constituted, must have gradually 
produced a disposition to secure their favour even 
at the expense of the free nobles and settlers : and 
a Mark that wished to entrust its security and its 
interests to a powerful soldier, would probably soon 
acquiesce in his assuming a direction and leader- 
ship in their affairs, hardly more consistent with 
their original liberty, than the influence which a 
modern nobleman may establish by watching^ as 
it is called, over the interests of the Registration. 
Even the old nobles by blood, who gradually beheld 
themselves forced down into a station of compara- 
tive poverty and obscurity, must have early hastened 
to give in their adhesion to a new order of things 
which held out peculiar prospects of advantage to 
themselves ; and thus, the communities, deserted by 
their natural leaders, soon sunk into a verv sub- 
ordinate situation, became portions of larger uni- 
ties under the protection, and ultimately the rule, 
of successful adventurers, and consented without a 
struggle to receive their comites into those offices 
of power and distinction which were once conferred 
by popular election. 

As the gesi^as were not free, and could not take 
a part in the deliberations of the freemen at the 
folcmot, or in the judicial proceedings, except in- 
asfar as they were represented by their chief, 
means for doing justice between themselves became 
necessary : these were provided by the establish- 
ment of a system of law, administered in the lord's 
court, by his officers, and to which all his depen- 


dants were required to do suit and service as amply 
as they would, if free, have been bound to do in 
the folcmdt. But the law, administered in such a 
court, and in those formed upon its model in the 
lands of the comites themselves, — a privilege very 
generally granted by the king, at least in later pe- 
riods ^ — was necessarily very different from that 
which could prevail in the court of the freemen : 
it is only in a lord's court that we can conceive 
punishments to have arisen which affected life and 
honour, and fealty with all its consequences to have 
attained a settled and stringent form, totally un- 
known to the popular judicature. Forfeiture, or 
rather excommunication, and pecuniary mulcts, 
which partook more of the nature of damages than 
of fine, were all that the freeman would subject 
himself to under ordinary circumstances. Expul- 
sion, degradation, death itself might be the portion 
of him whose whole life was the property of a lord. 

* Eadweard of Wesaex in 904 transferred his royal rights in Taunton 
to the see of Winchester. He says : " Concessi ut episcopii homines, 
tarn nobiles qoam ignobiles (i. e. XII hynde and II hynde) in praefato 
rare degentes, hoc idem ius in omni haberent dignitate (had) quo regis 
homines perfruuntur, regalibus fiscis commorantes : et omnium saecu« 
larium renun iudicia ad usus praesulum ezerceantur eodem modo quo 
r^alium negotiorum discutiuntur iudicia. Praedictae etiam villae 
merdmonium quod Anglice i$8es tunes cyping appellatur, censusque 
omnis civilis, sanctae dei aecclesiae in Wintonia civitate sine rctracta- 
tionis obstacolo cum omnibus commodis aetemahter deserviat." Cod. 
Dipl. No. 1064. He had previously granted an immunity ^m regal 
and comitial interference ; the result of which was to place all judicial 
and fiscal functions in the hands of the bishop's reeve instead of the 
sheriff, or the king's burgreeve. The document furnishes an admirable 
example of an Immunity, or, as it is technically called in the Anglo- 
saxon law, a grant of Sacu and S6cn, 

VOL. I. N 

178 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

to be by him disposed of at his pleasure. Hence 
the forfeiture of lands for adultery and fornication, 
and hence even Alfred affixes the penalty of death 
to the crime of hlafordsyrwe, or conspiracy against 
a lord', while manslaughter could still be com- 
pounded for by customary payments. One or two 
special cases may be quoted to show how the rela- 
tion of the gesi% to his chief modified the general 
law of the state. 

The horse and arms which, in the strict theory 
of the comitatus, had been the gift, or rather 
the loan of the chief, were to be returned at the 
death of the vassal, in order, according to the same 
theory, that they might furnish some other adven- 
turer with the instruments of service*. These, tech- 
nically called Heregeatwe, armatura bellica^ have 
continued even to our own day under the name of 
Heriot, and strictly speaking consist of horses and 
weapons. In later imitation of this, the unfree set- 
tlers on a lord's land, who were not called upon 
by their tenure to perform military service, w^ere 
bound on demise to pay the best chattel (melius 
cataUum, best head, in German beste haupt, heriot- 
custom, as opposed to heriot-service) to the lord, 
probably on the theoretical hypothesis that he, at 

^ Ll. M\(r, Introduction, and § 4. 

^ ITiis is necessan' in a country where the materials of which wei- 
pons arc fabricated are not abundant, which Tacitus notices as the case 
in Germany, " nc fcrrura quidem superest, sicut ex genere telomm 
colhgitui*.". Germ. vi. Adventurers, ever on the move, are prone to 
rcaUze their gains in the most ])ortable shape. Rings, gems and anus 
are the natural form, and a Teutonic king's treasury must have been 
filled with them, in preference to all other valuables. 


the commencement of the tenancy, had supplied the 
necessary implements of agriculture. And this dif- 
fers entirely from a Relief \ because Heriot is the 
act of the leaving, Relief the act of the incoming 
tenant or heir^; and because in its very nature 
and amount Heriot is of a somewhat indefinite 
character, which Relief is not. 

In the strict theory of the comitatus, the gesi% 
could possess no property of his own ; all that he 
acquired was his lord's, and even the Uberalities 
of the lord himself were only beneficia or loans, 
not absolute gifts^ : he had the usufruct only during 
life, the dominium utile : the dominium directum was 
in the lord, and at the death of the tenant it is 
obvious that the estate vested in the lord alone : 
the gesi¥ could have no ius testamentiy as indeed 
he had no family : the lord stood to him in place 

^ Relief, relemum, firom relevare, to lift or take up again. It is a 
sum psid by the heir to the lord, on taking or lifting up again the in* 
heritance of an estate which has, as it were, fallen to the ground by the 
death of the ancestor. 

' Fleta, lib. iii. cap. 18. 

' Montesquieu has seen this very clearly, when he considers even the 
horse vnAframea of Tacitus in the light of beneficia. From a charter of 
iESelflsd, an. 915-922, it would seem that in Mercia a thane required 
the consent of the lord, before he could purchase an estate of bookland : 
" Ego i&Selflsed .... dedi licentiam Eadrico meo ministro comparandi 
terram decern manentium set Fembeorgen, sibi suixque haeredibus per- 
petoaHter possidendam." Cod. Dipl. No. 343. About the close of the 
ninth century, Wulfhere, a duke, having left the country, and so de- 
serted the duties of his position, was adjudged to lose even his private 
lands of inheritance : " Quando ille utrumquc et suum dominum regem 
iSlfiredum et patriam, ultra iusiurandum quam regi et suis omnibus op- 
timatibus iuraverat, sine liccntia dereliquit. Tunc etiam, cum omnium 
indicio sapientium Oeuisorum et Mercensium, potestatem et haeredita- 
tem derefiquit agrorum." Cod. Dipl. No. 1078. The importance of this 
passage Menu to me to rest upon the words *' sine licentia." 



of father, brother and son. Hereditary succession, 
which must at first have been a very rare exception, 
could only have arisen at all either from the volun- 
tary or the compelled grant of the lord : it could 
only become general when the old distinction be- 
tween the free markman and the gesVS had become 
obliterated, and the system of the Comitatus had 
practically and politically swallowed up every other. 
Yet even under these circumstances it would appear 
that a perfectly defined result was not attained; 
and hence, although the document entituled " Rec- 
titudines siugularum personarum" numbers the 
ius testamenti among the rights of the J?egen*, yet 
even to the close of the Anglosaxon monarchy, we 
find dukes, praefects, kings' thanes and other great 
nobles humbly demanding permission from the king 
to make wills, entreating him not to disturb their 
testamentary dispositions, and even bribing his 
acquiescence by including him among the lega- 
tees. In this as in all human affairs, a compromise 
was gradually found necessary between opposing 
powers, and the king as well as the comites, neither 
of whom could dispense with the assistance of the 
other, found it advisable to make mutual conces- 
sions. I doubt whether at even an earlier period 
than the eleventh century, the whole body of thanes 
would have permitted the king to disregard the 
testament of one of theih body, unless upon defi- 
nite legal grounds, as for example grave suspicion 

1 <( 

pcgcnes lagu is 'Saet he sy his hocrihtes wyi^ ; taini lex est nfc 
sit dignus rectitudine testamenti sui." Thorpe, i. 432. And with this 
iElfred's law of entails is consistent. LI. JEAi. § 41. Thorpe, i. S8. 


of treason : but still they might consent to the no- 
minal application and sanction of the ancient 
principle, by allowing the insertion of a general 
petition, that the will might stand, in the body of 
the instrument ^ 

The circumstances thus brought under review 
show clearly that the condition of the gesiS was 
unfree in itself; that even the free by birth who 
entered into it, relinquished that most sacred in- 
heritance, and reduced themselves to the rank of 
thanes, ministers or servants. Certain rights and 
privileges grew up, no doubt, by custom, and the 
counts were probably not very long subject to the 
mere arbitrary will of the chief : they had the pro- 
tection of others in a similar state of dependency 
to their own, and chances, such as they were, 

' Toward the end of the tenth century, Beorhtric, a wealthy nohle in 
Kenty devised land hy will to various relatives. He left the king, a 
eollar worth eighty mancuses of gold, and a sword of equal value ; his 
heriot, comprising four horses, two of which were saddled ; two swords 
with their belts ; two hawks, and all his hounds. He further gave to 
ike queen, a ring worth thirty mancuses of gold, and a mare, that she 
mil^t be his advocate (forespnece) that the will might stand, " "Sst sc 
cwide stondan mihte." Cod. Dipl. No. 492. Between 944 and 946, 
.£tSelgyfu devised lands and chattels to St. Albans, " cum consensu do- 
mini mei regis." The king and queen had a very fair share of this 
tpoSL Cod. Dipl. No. 410. Between 965 and 9/5, i£lfhe£h, an ealdor- 
man, or noble of the highest rank, and cousin of Eadgar's queen 
iElfSryt, left lands, a good share of which went to the king and queen : 
the will was made, " be his cynehlafordes ge)>afunge," by his royal 
lord's permission, and winds up with this clause : " And the witnesses 
to this permission which the king granted (obsei've, not to the \y\\\ 
itself, but to the king's permission to leave the property as he did,) are 
.£lfSryi$ the queen and others." Cod. Dipl. No. 593. JS^elflsed a royal 
ladjy left lands, some of which went to the king : she says, " And ic 
bidde minan leofan hltford for Godcs lufun, 'Sect min cwide standan 
mote," — and I beg my dear Lord, for God's love, that this my will may 

182 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of subservience to the king's wishes: a bond of 
affection and interdependence surpassing that of 
blood, and replacing the mutual free guarantee of 
life and security, was formed between them ; and 
they shared alike in the joys and sorrows, the 
successes and reverses of peace and war : but with 
it all, and whatever their rank, they were in fact 
menials, housed within the walls, fed at the table, 
clothed at the expense of their chief ; dependent 
upon his bounty, his gratitude or forbearance, for 
their subsistence and position in life ; bound to 
sacrifice that life itself in his service, and, strictly 
considered, incapable of contracting marriage or 
sharing in the inestimable sanctities of a home. 
They were his cupbearers, stewards, chamberlains 
and grooms ; even as kings and electors were to 

stand. Cod. Dipl. No. 685. In the time of iE^elred, Wulfwaru, a lady, 
commences her will in these words : ** Ic Wulfw'aru bidde mine le6£ui 
hlaford JB'Selred k\7iing, him to eelmyssan, ^set ic m6te be6n mines 
cwides wyrSe ; " i . e. that I may be worthy of my right of devising 
by will ; that I may enjoy my right of making a will. Cod. Dipl. 
No. 694. iElfgyfu the queen in 1012 commences her will in similtr 
terms : " Dis is iElfgyfe geguming t6 hire cynehldforde. Dset is t$«C 
heo hine bitt for Godes lufun and for cynescipe "Sset he6 m6te be6n 
hyre cwides wyrSe." Cod. Dipl. No. 721. ^Selst&n, king JEMred*t 
son, made also a will, from which I take the following passage : ** Now 
I thank my father, with all humility, in the name of Almighty Ood, 
for the answer which he sent me on the Friday after Midsummer day, 
by iElfgar ^Effa's son ; that was, that he told me, upon my father's 
word, that I might, by God's leave and his, grant my realty and chattels, 
as I thought best, whether for spiritual or temporal ends. And the wit- 
nesses to this answer are Eadmund," etc. Cod. Dipl. No. 722. Lastly, 
iElfhelm concludes his will with these words : " Now I entreat thee, 
my dear lord, that my will may stand, and that thou permit not that 
any man should set it aside. God is my witness that I was ever obe- 
dient to thy father, to the utmost of my power, and full faithful to 
him both in mind and main, and have ever been faithful to thee, in full 
faith and full love, as God is my witness." Cod. Dipl. No. 967. 


the emperor, whom they had raised out of their 
own body. The real nature of their service appears 
even through the haze of splendour and dignity 
which gradually surround the intimate servants 
of royalty ; and as the chief might select his co- 
mites and instruments from what class he chose, 
it was the fate of these voluntary thanes, not un- 
frequently to be numbered in the same category 
with the unfree by birth, and thus, in their own 
persons, to witness the destruction of that essential 
principle of all Teutonic law, the distinction be- 
tween the freeman and the serf'. 

Great indeed ought to be the advantages which 
could compensate for sacrifices like these, and great 
in their eyes, beyond a doubt, they were. In re- 
turn for freedom, the gesi% obtained a certain main- 
tenance, the chance of princely favour, a military 
and active life of adventure, with all its advantages 
of pillage, festivals and triumphs, poets and min- 
strels, courtly halls and adventitious splendour; 
the usufruct at least, and afterwards the possession, 
of lands and horses, arms and jewels. As the royal 
power steadily advanced by his assistance, and the 
old, national nobility of birth, as well as the old, 
landed freeman sunk into a lower rank, the gesi^ 
found himself rising in power and consideration pro- 
portioned to that of his chief : the offices which had 

^ ** Liberti non multum supra sen^os sunt, raro aliquod momentum 
in domo, nunquam in civitate ; cxceptis duntaxat lis gentibus, quae 
regnantur : ibi enim et super ingenuos et super nobiles ascendunt : 
apnd caeteros impares libertini libertatis argumentum sunt." Tac. 
Germ. xxv. 

184 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

passed from the election of the freemen to the gift 
of the crown*, were now conferred upon him, and 
the ealdorman, duke, ger^fa, judge, and even the 
bishop, were at length selected from the ranks of 
the comitatus. Finally, the nobles by birth them- 
selves became absorbed in the ever-widening whirl- 
pool ; day by day the freemen, deprived of their old 
national defences, wringing with difficulty a preca- 
rious subsistence from incessant labour, sullenly 
yielded to a yoke which they could not shake off, 
and commended themselves (such was the phrase) 
to the protection of a lord ; till a complete change 
having thus been operated in the opinions of men, 
and consequently in every relation of society, a 
new order of things was consummated, in which 
the honours and security of service became more 
anxiously desired than a needy and unsafe freedom ; 
and the alods being finally surrendered, to be taken 
back as beneficial under mediate lords, the founda- 
tions of the royal, feudal system were, securely laid 
on every side. 

* By this step, the crown became the real leader of the hercban, or 
posse comitatus, as well as of the gesit^as and their power : and thus 
also, the head of the jui'idical ]K)wer in the counties, as well as the lords* 
courts. Moreover it extended the powers and provisions of martial 
law to the offences of the freemen. 




Wb have considered the case of the wife, the son 
and the daughter ^ as far as can be done until we 
come to deal with the family relations ; and we 
have examined the position of one peculiar class 
of the unfree, namely the comites or gesi^as of the 
kingly leaders. Another, but less favoured, class 
remain to be noticed, those namely whom the La- 
tin authors designate by the terms Libertus and 
Servus, and whoj among all the nations of Germa- 
nic origin, are found under the corresponding de- 
nominations of Lazzi or Di6, Laet or De6w, Lysingr 
or Jjrcel. These have no honourable, no profitable 
service to compensate for the loss of independence, 
but form the large body of hired cultivators, the 
artizans and handicrafts in various branches of 
industry, the praedial, even the domestic or menial 
servants of the free landowner. 

The grounds as well as the degrees of slavery 
(by which term I mean dependence, the being in 
the mund of another, and represented by him in 
the folcmot) are various ; one, viz. poverty arising 

» Page 129. 

186 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

from over-population, has been noticed in the last 
chapter; but I agree with Eichhorn* and Grimm*, 
in attributing the principal and original cause of 
slavery in all its branches to war and subsequent 
conquest. Another and important cause is for- 
feiture of liberty for crime ; and the amount of de- 
pendence, the gentler or harsher condition of the 
serf, depend to a great extent upon the original 
ground of servitude. If the victor has a right to 
the life of the vanquished, which by the law of 
nature is unquestionably the case, he possesses d 
fortiori a perfect claim to the person, the property 
and the services of his prisoner, if his self-interest 
or the dictates of humanity induce him to waive 
that right ^. These remarks apply no doubt, in 
their full force, only to our pagan forefathers ; but 
even Christianity itself did not at once succeed in 
rooting out habits which its divine precepts of jus- 
tice and mercy emphatically condemn. Beda, in 
his desire to prove the eflScacy of the mass for the 
dead"*, tells an interesting story of a young noble 

' Deut. Staatsges. i. 72, § 15. 

^ Deutsche Reehtsalterthiimer, p. 320, with the numerous examples 
there given. So Fleta. "Fiunt autem homines servi de iure gentium 
captivitate : bclla enim orta sunt, et captivitates sequutae. Fiunt etiam 
de iure civili, per confessionem in curia fisci factam." Lib. i. c. 3. § 3. 

^ A whole army may be devoted as victims by the conquerors. " Sed 
bellum Hermundiu-is prospcrum, Cattis exitiosius fiiit, quia victores 
diversam aciem Marti ac Mcrcurio sacravere, quo voto equi, viri, cuncta 
victa occidioni dantur." Tac. Annal. xiii. 57. " Lucis propinquis bar- 
barae arae, apud quas tribunos ac primorum ordinum ecuturiones mac- 
taverant .... cladis suj)crstites, pugnam aut vincula elapsi, referebant 
.... quot patibiUa captivis, quae scrobes," etc. Tac. Annal. i. 61. 

< Hist. Eccles. iv. 22. 

CR. viii.] THE UNFREE. THE SERF. 187 

who was left severely wounded on the field, after a 
battle between Ecgfri^ of Northumberland and 
M^elved of Mercia, in the year 679. Fearful of 
the consequences should his rank be discovered, he 
disguised himself in the habit of a peasant, and as- 
sumed that character, at the castle of the earl into 
whose hands he fell r declaring that he was a poor, 
and married man', who had been compelled to at- 
tend the army with supplies of provisions. But his 
language and manners betrayed him, and at length, 
under a solemn promise of immunity, he revealed 
his name and station. The reply of the earl is cha- 
racteristic ; he said : ** I knew well enough from 
thy answers that thou wert no rustic ; and now in- 
deed thou art worthy of death, seeing that all my 
brothers and relations were slain in that battle: 
yet I will not kill thee, lest I should break the 
faith that I have pledged." Accordingly when his 
wounds were healed, his captor sold him to a Frisian 
in London, who, finding that he could not be bound, 
finally released him on his parole and permitted 
him to ransom himself. Whatever the motive, it 
is thus clear that the victor possessed the right of 
life and death over his captive, even when taken in 
cold blood ; and the traditions, as well as the histo- 
rical records of the northern nations are filled with 
instances of its exercise. 

^ This is confirmatory of the statement in the last chapter, that, 
strictly speaking, the Comes could not marry. One cannot see why the 
assertion should have been made on any other grounds : his great 
anxiety was to prove himself not a comes or minister, and as one argu« 
ment, he states himself to be " uxoreo nexu constrictus." 

188 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

It does not however by any means follow that 
the total defeat of a hostile tribe resulted in the im- 
mediate and direct enslaving of all the survivors : 
as in the example just cited, the blood-feud no 
doubt frequently led to the murder of the captive 
chiefs and nobles, even if less justifiable motives 
did not counsel the same miserable means of re- 
moving dangerous competitors^; but the heavy 
doom of death must have been one of the melan- 
choly privileges of the noble class : and even though 
many of the common freemen may have been sold 
or retained as slaves at the caprice ]of the captors, 
still we cannot suppose this to have been the lot of 
any but those who had actually taken part in com- 
bat ; no natural or national law could extend these 
harsh provisions to the freemen who remained quiet 
at home. Nevertheless even these were liable to 
be indirectly affected by the hostile triumph, inas- 
much as the conquerors appear invariably to have 
taken a portion, more or less great, of the territory 
occupied by the conquered* : and wherever this is 

' After a battle between Ragnacbari and Chlodowicb, in whicb tbe 
former was taken prisoner, thei victor thus addi'essed him: ''Cui 
dixit ChlodovcuSj Cur humiliasti genteni nostram, ut te vinciri per- 
mitteres? Nonne melius tibi fuerit raori? £t elevata bipenne, in 
caput eius deiixit, et mortuus est. Conversusque ad fratrem cius, ait : 
Si tu solatium fratri tuo praebuisscs, ille ligatus non fuisset ! Similiter 
et ipsum in capite pcrcussum interfecit, ct mortuus est." Gest. R^. 
Franc. (Script. Rcr. Gall, et Francic. ii. 555.) It was the interest of 
Chlodowich to put these princes to death, but there must still have 
been some right acknowledged in him to do so. lie seems however to 
rest it upon the ilisgrace which they had brought upon the mscgburh, 
gens or family, by suffering themselves to be captured and bound. 

' " Quod Ariovistus in eorum finibus consedisset, tertiamque 


the case to the extent of depriving the cultivator of 
means sufficient for his support, he has no resource 
but to place himself in dependence upon some 
wealthier man, and lose, together with his lot op> 
K\npoc, the right to form an integral part of the 
state : the degree of his dependence, and the con- 
sequent comparative suffering to himself, may vary 
with a multitude of circumstances ; but the one fact 
still remains, viz. that he is in the mund or hand 
of another, represented in the state by that other, 
and consequently, in the most emphatic sense of 
the word, unfree. 

It is now generally admitted that this must have 
been the case with the whole population in some 
districts, who thus became dependent upon a few 
intrusive lords : but still these populations cannot 
be said to have stood in that peculiar relation to 
the conquerors, which the word servus strictly im- 
plies towards an owner. The utmost extent of their 
subjection probably reached no further than the 
payment of tribute, the exclusion from military 
duty and the standing under a protectorate*. In- 
glorious and easy, when once the dues of the lord 
were paid, they may even have rejoiced at being 
spared the danger of warfare and the laborious suit 

partem agri Sequani qui esset optimus totius Galliae, occupavisset ; ct 
nunc de altera parte tertia Sequanos decedere iuberct." Cces. Bell. Gall, 
i. 32. The same proportion of a third, sometimes however in produce, 
not land, occurs in other cases : Eichhom, Deut. Staatsges. i. 161 seq. 
4 23, with the accompanying quotations. 

* This is the condition of the Perioecians in Laconia, with the ex- 
ception that these were called upon for military service. The Helotae 
or Penettae were more nearly praedial serfs. 

190 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of the folcmdt, and forgotten that self-government 
is the inherent right and dignity of man, in the 
convenience of having others to defend and rule 
them. Moreover the territorial subjection was not 
necessarily a juridical one : indeed some of the Teu- 
tonic conquerors recognized as positive law, the 
right of even the dependent Romans and Provin- 
cials to be judged and taxed according to the rules 
and maxims of Roman, not Salic or Langobardic, 
jurisprudence : and this, when carried out in the 
fullest detail with respect to the various tribes at 
any time united under one supreme head, consti- 
tutes what is now called the system of Personal 
Eighty whereby each man enjoyed the law and forms 
of law to which he was born, without the least 
reference to the peculiar district in which he might 
happen to live ; in other words, that he carried his 
own law about, whithersoever he went, as a quality 
attached to his own person, and not in the slightest 
degree connected with or dependent upon any par- 
ticular locality. In this way Alamanni, Baiowari, 
Saxons, Frisians, Langobards, Romans, Gallic pro- 
vincials and Slavonic populations, were all united 
under the empire of the Salic and Ripuarian Franks^ 
The peculiar circumstances under which the con- 
quest took place must, of course, have defined the 
relations under which the subject stood to the ruling 
state. It is conceivable that the conquerors might 
not want land, but be contented with glory and 

* This led by degrees to the vast power and influence of all the 
clergy, who were originally Roman, and who, whatever their natioD 
might be, lived under the Roman law, ''per clericalem honorem." 

CH. viii.] THE UNFREE. THE SERF. 191 

pillage; or they might not be able to seize and 
retain the conquered territory : or again they may 
have required new settlements for themselves and 
their allies, to obtain which they waged a war of 
extermination. Thus the Suevi, although unable 
to expel the Ubii altogether from their territory, 
yet succeeded in rendering them tributary^ ; while 
in Thuringia, the Franks and their Saxon allies 
seized all the laud, slaying, expelling or completely 
reducing the indigenous inhabitants to slavery. 
Another and curious instance may be cited from a 
comparatively late period, when the little island of 
Man was invaded, conquered and colonized by the 
Norwegian Godred. ** Godredus sequenti die opti- 
onem exercitui suo dedit, ut si mallent, Manniam 
inter se dividere et in ea habitare, vel cunctam 
substantiam terrae accipere et ad propria remeare. 
Hiis autem magis placuit totam insulam vastare, 
et de bonis illius ditari, et sic ad propria reverti. 
Grodredus autem paucis qui secum remanserunt 
de insulanis, australem partem insulae, et reliquiis 
Mannensium aquilonarem tali pacto concessit, ut 
nemo eorum aliquando auderet iure haereditario 
sibi aliquam partem terrae usurpare. Unde accidit 
ut usque in hodiernum diem tota insula solius regis 
sit, et omnes redditus eius ad ipsum pertineant'." 
The not being able to dispose of property heredi- 
tarily is the true badge and proof of slavery. 

' Caesar, Bell. GaU. iv. 3. The Franks imposed a tribute of hides 
upon the Frisians : we hear also of tribute paid them by the Thurin* 
gians, Saxons and Slavic races. 

^ Chron. Manniae. MS. Cott. Jul. A. VII. fol. 32. 

192 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

Tacitus draws the great distiDctioD between the 
different degrees of servitude among the Grermans. 
He tells us that the unsuccessful gambler who bad 
staked and lost his liberty and the free disposal of 
his own body upon one fatal cast of the dice, would 
voluntarily submit to be bound and sold^ but that 
it was not usual for them to reduce their other serfs 
to the condition of menials ; they only demanded 
from them a certain amount of produce (or, un- 
questionably, of labour in the field or pasture), and 
then left them the enjoyment of their own dwell- 
ings and property*. The general duties of the 
house, beyond such supplies, which were provided 
for among the Romans by the ministeria per familiam 
descriptay were left among the Germans to the wife 
and children of the householder^. It will be de- 
sirable to follow a somewhat similar distinction in 

' " Sen'os conditionis huius per commercia traduut, ut se quoque 
pudore victoriae exsolvant." Germ. xxiv. The last member of the 
sentence is a bit of imaginative morality which we shall acquit the 
Germans of altogether. The ver>' word caeteris in the next sentence 
shows cleai'ly enough that if they did sell some slaves conditionis kuius, 
they kept others for menial functions. 

' " Caeteris serais, non in nostrum morem descriptis per familiam 
ministeriis, utuntur. Suam quisque sedem, suos penates regit. Fra- 
menti modum dominus, aut pecoris, aut vestis, ut colono, iniungit ; et 
servus hactenus paret." Germ. xxv. This amounts to no more than 
the description of a certain class of oiu* own copyholders, of the Sla- 
vonic holder in Bohemia or Grahcia, and the peasant on a noble session 
in Hungar}'. 

' This is the obvious meaning of the passage, which has however 
been disputed, in defiance of sense and Latin : see Walther's edition, 
vol. iv. 68. The general rule in the text is true, but where there 
were slaves they were used in the house, under the superintendence of 
the family. This of course applies more strongly to later historiciil 
periods, when the slaves (domestics) had become much more nume- 
rous, and the ladies much less domestic. 


treating of the different kinds of slaves ; and having 
shown that one class of the unfree are those who 
have been partially dispossessed by conquest, but 
retain their personal freedom in some degree, to 
proceed to those who are personally unfree, the 
mere chattels of a lord who can dispose of them at 
his pleasure, even to the extent of sale, mutilation 
and death. The class we have hitherto been ob- 
serving is that intended by the term Laet in Anglo- 
saxon, litus, Lito, Lazzo, etc. in German monu- 
ments \ and ^he Laeti of the Romans, applied by 
them to the auxiliary Germans settled on 'imperial 
land, and bound to pay tribute and perform military 
service. They formed, as Grimm has well observed, 
a sort of middle class among the unfree ; compri- 
sing the great majority of those who, without being 
absolutely their own masters, were yet placed some- 
what above the lowest and most abject condition 
of man, which we call slavery. This condition 
among our forefathers was termed j^edwet ; the ser^ 
vus was )7e6w, the ancilla J?e6wen ; or, as the origi- 
nal serfs of the English were the vanquished Bri- 
tons, Wealh and Wyln. 

Without confining ourselves to the definition in 
the law of Henry the First, we may distribute the 
different kinds of slaves into classes, according to 
the different grounds of slavery*. Thus they are 

> Deut. Rechtsalt. p. 305. 

^ " Seiri alii natura, alii facto> et alii empcione, et alii redempcione, 
alii mia vel alterius dacione servi, et si quae sunt aliae 8]>ecics huius- 
modi; qoas tamen onmes volumus sub unoservitutismembroconstitui, 
quern casum ponimus appellari, ut ita dictum sit, servi alii casu, alii 
genitura." LI. Hen. I. hxvi. § 3. 

VOL. I. O 

194 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

serfs casu or naiura, and the serfs casu comprise 
serfs by the fortune of war, by marriage, by settle- 
ment, by voluntary surrender, by crime, by superior 
legal power, and by illegal power or injustice. The 
remaining class are serfs natura, or by birth. 

The serfs by fortune of war were those who were 
not left under the public law to enjoy a portion of 
their ancient freedom and possessions, but were 
actually reduced to a state of praedial or menial 
servitude by their captors, and either reserved for 
household drudgery or sold, at their ^irbitrary will. 
The Cassandra and Andromache of Grecian story 
stand here side by side with our own Grerman Gu- 
drun. This part of the subject has received suffi- 
cient illustration from the tale of the thane Imma, 
already quoted from Beda. 

The serf by marriage was the free man or free 
woman who contracted that bond with a slave : in 
this case the free party sank to the condition of the 
unfree, among some at least of the German races. 
The Salic law is explicit upon this point both with 
respect to man and woman': among the Ripuarian 
Franks it was enacted thus* : *• If a free Ripuarian 
woman hath followed a Ripuarian serf, let the king 
or the count otler unto her a sword and a spindle: 
if she accept the sword, let her therewith slay the 
serf; if the spindle, let her abide with him in ser- 

** Si quis mscnuus anciliAQi alienjLm sibi in coniugiam socuiTerit, 
i(tse cum en iu ^'nitutem* Lex Sal. xiv. II. ** Si iagcnaft 
tVmiua uiiqueiuounque ile illis i. e. raptoribus uon ingenuisr suaTolmi- 
tato MN:u;a tuorit, iiigeuiiiiatcui >4iam penUu.** L^x Sal. xiv. 7- 
• U\ Rip. Iviii. IS. 


▼itude." In this case the Burgundian law' com- 
manded both parties to be slain ; but if the rela- 
tives of the woman would not put her to death, she 
became a serf of the king« Saxo Grammaticus cites 
a similar law for Denmark^. There is no evidence 
of the Anglosaxon practice in this respect, but it 
appears unlikely that the case should be of com- 
mon occurrence. Probably purchase and emanci- 
pation always preceded such marriages, and the 
law of Henry the First makes no mention of this 
among the grounds of slavery^. 

The serf by settlement is he who has taken up 
his abode in a district exclusively inhabited by the 
unfree ; and to this refers the German expression 
•* Die luft macht eigen," i. e. the air makes the serf. 
There is no distinct Anglosaxon provision on the 
subject, but perhaps we may include in this class 
some at least of those who taking refuge on a lord's 
land, and among his sdcmen, without any absolute 
and formal surrender of their freedom, did actu- 
ally become his serfs and liable to the services due 
to him from all their neighbours'*. The generality 

* Lex Bnrg. xxxv. 2, 3. ' Hist. Dan. lib. v. p. 85. 

' The following proverbs are founded upon tbis legal custom : — 

** Trittst du meine benne, so wirst du mein babn." 

"Die unfreie band ziebt die freie nacb sich." 

" En formariage le pire emportc Te bon." 

^ Sucb may also bave been malefactors, wbo sougbt an asylum in 
church or other privileged lands, and wbo sometimes formed a very 
considerable number of dependants or retainers: thus, "Contraxit 
universam iuventutem Uoulandiae [Hulland in Lincolnsbire] strenu- 
isaimus comes Alganis, — uo^ cum cohorte Croylandiae mouastcrii, 
videlicet CC bellatoribus robustissimis, co quod maxima pars illorum 
de fiigitivis fuerat." Hist. Ingulf, p. 865. 


196 THE S-\XOXS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

however of such cases fall under the next following 
head, viz. — 

The serfs by surrender, the sua dalione senms of 
Henry's law^ the servus dedititius^ and giaf)>r8el of 
the Norse law. Among these Grimm numbers the 
serfs whose voluntary submission so much surprised 
the Roman philosopher. Even the law of the Ger- 
mans, so generally favourable to liberty, contem- 
plates and provides for the case of such a voluntary 
servitude ^ This might arise in various ways. For 
example, a time of severe scarcity, such as are only 
too often recorded in our ancient annals, unques- 
tionably drove even the free to the cruel alternative 
of either starvation or servitude : ^' Subdebant se 
pauperes servitio, ut quantulumcunque de alimento 
porrigerent," says Gregory of Tours*; Gildas tells 
us a similar tale of the Britons^ ; and even as late 
as the Norman conquest we find G^atflsed, a lady, 
directing by her will the manumission of all those 
who had bent their heads in the evil days for food*. 

* '' Si liber homo spontauca voluntate vel forte necessitate coactns, 
nobili, sou libero, sen etiam lito, in personam et in servitium liti se 
siibdiderit." Lex Frcs. xi. 1. " Ut nullum liberum liceat insenrire. . . . 
quamvis pau))er sit, tamen libertatem suam non perdat nee hereditatem 
suam, nisi ex spontanea voluntate se alicui tradcre voluerit, hoc potes- 
tatem liabeat faciendi." Lex Bajuv. vi. 3. The Anglosaxon law gave 
this power ot* voluntar)* suiTender to a l>oy of thirteen. See Tbeod. 
Poenit. xxix. Thorjie, ii. V.K 

* Gregor. Turon. vii. 45. 

^ "Intcrea fames dira nc famosissima vagis ac nutabundis haeret^ 
quae midtos eonim cruentis compellit praedonibus sine dilatione victas 
dare manus, ut pauxillum ad refocillandam animam cibi oapcrent.*' 
Hist. Brit. cap. x\'ii. 

* " Ealle «a men te hconon heora heifod for hyra mete on tSun 
yflum dagum." C<h\. Dip. No. 925. The instance is, I believe, a aoli- 
tani- one in our records, but the cases must have been numerous. 


Another was no doubt, debt, incurred either through 
poverty or crime ; and when the days of fierce and 
cruel warfare had passed away, this must have been 
the most fertile source of servitude. I have not 
found among the Anglosaxon remains any exam- 
ple of slavery voluntarily incurred by the insolvent 
debtor, but the whole course of analogy is in favour 
of its existence, and Marculf supplies us with the 
formulary by which, among the Franks, the debtor 
surrendered his freedom to the creditor. It may be 
presumed that this servitude had a term, and that 
a certain period of servile labour was considered 
equivalent to the debt. The case of crime was un- 
doubtedly a very common one, especially as those 
whose necessities were the most likely to bring 
them in collision with the law were those also who 
were least able to fulfil its requirements, by pay- 
ment of the fines attached to their offences. The 
criminal whose own means were insufficient, and 
whose relatives or lord would not assist him to make 
up the legal fine he had incurred, was either com- 
pelled to surrender himself to the plaintiff*, or to 
some third party who paid the sum for him, by 
agreement with the aggrieved party. This was 
technically called J^ingian^ and such a serf was 

* ^' And eiic heo hafat^ gefreod '5a men Sa heo Hngede act Cwacs- 
patrike ; " And she hath also freed the men whom she interceded for 
with Cospatrick. Cod. Dip. No. 925. Marculf gives the Prankish 
fonnukry, as follows ; it is the case of one who has been redeemed 
from capita] punishment : " £t ego de rebus mcis, imde vestra beuc> 
fida rependere debuissem, non habeo ; idco pro hoc statum ingenuitatis 
mcae vobis visas sum obnoxiasse> ita ut ab hac die de vestro scrvitio 
penitus non discedam." Form. Mai'culf. ii. 28. 

198 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

called a wite)?e6w, convict, or criminal slave. These 
are the servi redemptione of Henry the First. 

Serfs by force or power are not those comprised 
in the first class of these divisions, or serfs by the 
fortune of war : these of course have lost their free- 
dom through superior force. But the class under 
consideration are such as have been reduced to ser- 
vitude by the legal act of those who had a right to 
dispose of them ; as, for instance, a son or daughter 
by the act of the father ^ It is painful to record 
a fact so abhorrent to our Christian feelings, but 
there cannot be the least doubt that this right was 
both admitted and acted upon. The father, upon 
whose will it literally depended whether his child 
should live or not, had a right at a subsequent pe- 
riod to decide whether the lot of that child should 
be freedom or bondage^. Illegitimate children, the 
offspring of illicit intercourse with his wyln or 
J?e6wen, may have formed the majority of those thus 
disposed of by a father : but in times of scarcity, 
it is to be feared that even the issue of legitimate 

^ The wife, by the act of the husband, I think very doubtful, in point 
of right. In point of fact this case may have occurred much more fre- 
quently than our records vouch. 

^ The illegitimate offspring of his own wife, a husband was not 
likely to spare. An old German tale records this fsct. Her lord re- 
turning from a long absence and finding a child which could not be 
his own in the house, was told by the faithless mother, that when 
walking in the fields a flake of snow had faUen into her bosom and 
impregnated her. Afterwards the husband took the child to Italy 
and sold him there, excusing himself to the mother by the aaaeitioii 
that the heat of the sun had melted the snow-child. 

" De nive conceptum quem mater adultera finxit ; 
Ilunc dominus vendens liquefactum sole retulit." 



marriage was not always spared'. The Frisians, 
when oppressed by the amount of Roman tribute, 
sold their wives and children : " Ac prime boves 
ipsos, mox agros, postretno corpora coniugura aut 
liberorum servitio tradebant^:" this is however an 
exceptional case, and the sale of wives and children 
appears only to have been resorted to as a last re- 
source. But the very restriction to the exercise of 
this right, within particular limits of time — which we 
may believe the merciful intervention of the church 
to have brought about — Bpeaks only too plainly for 
its existence in England. Even as late as the end 
of the seventh century, and after Christianity had 
been established for nearly one hnndred years in 
this country, we find the following very distinct 
and clear recognitions of the right, in books of 
discipline compiled by two several archbishops for 
the guidance of their respective clergy. In the 
Poenitential of Theodor, archbishop of Canterbury, 
occurs this passage : " Pater tilium suum septem 
annornm, necessitate compulsus, potestatem habet 
tradere in servitium ; deinde, sine voluntate HUi, 
licentiam tradendi non habet ^." In the somewhat 

' lingBrd (A. S. Cburdi, i. 45) Mcu»e» the pagan Saxoni of Klling 
their children into foreign Blavery. I am not sure that this ii not &■- 
serted too itrongly by thii Mtiniahle author, who Biipears unjustly lo 
dcpreciatt: the Khxoos, in onler to enhance the merit of theii con- 
vertor*. t ubuit the pri)l)aliility of the fact, only because the right ii 
a (Urect corolkry from the paternal power, ftnil becauic ArcbbUhopi 
Theodor and Ei^berht [tbe Sriit a Roman missionary) rect^niie it; 
but 1 csnuut auppoK itn excrcisu to bnve lieen common. 

' T»c. Annal. iv. 72. 

' Theodori, Arch. Cant, Liber Poenitentialis, xxviii. Thorpe, A. S. 
Lam, ii, 19. 

2<K) THE SAXONS L\ ENGLAND. [book i. 

later Confessionale of Ecgberht, archbishop of York, 
"we find : '' Pater potest filium suum, magna neces- 
sitate compulsus, in servitutem tradere, usque ad 
septimum annum ; deinde, sine voluntate fiUi, eum 
tradere non potest *." It is however very remark- 
able that in the Poenitential of the same Ecgberht 
the sale of a child or near relative is put down as 
an offence punishable by excommunication ^. These 
are the servi alterius datione of Henry the First. 

The next head includes the serfs by reason of 
crime. The distinction between these and the class 
of criminals who became slaves through compact 
or redemption, is that in their case servitude was 
the direct punishment of their offence, and not 
merely an indirect and mediate consequence. It 
seems to me at least that this sense strictly lies at 
the foundation of two laws of Eadweard, j£lfred's 
son ; of these the former says*, " If any one through 
conviction of theft forfeit his freedom, and deliver 
himself up, and his kindred forsake him, and he 

' Coufcj&ionale Eogberhti. Arcb. Ebor. xxvii. Thorpe, ii. 153. 

' The only way of gettiiig rid of tbb itawofcc eoDtndietioii is, eitlier 
to assume the passage to be a later intopolatioii, wbieh there is no 
grv>uml for. save the coutradictiou itself; or to take the passage in con- 
uection with Theodor. Poen. xlii. § 3, 4, 5, which refer to sale of a 
Christian among Jews or Heathens, and gcneraUr to firandnlrirt or il- 
legal sale. But then, one cannot understand why the words " infimtem 
»uum im>|^um. rel proximum sunm cognatum ^ should hare been in- 
troiUieetl by Ecgberht, though omitted by Theodor. Perhaps we may 
ixToncile the pifcjsages, by assuming Lcgberbt to refer to an illegal sale, 
\i7. when tho child nss abore seven vear» old. but still in the 
V4tcg\uy »s thi^'se lor wh*we safety Theodor provides by die 
clesuLstic&l i>eualt>-. The child or very near rebtaon were p te cisel y 
tlKxse who were mo(SS Uable to be m " alteram regiocem sedncti, fnrativ** 

CH. vui.] THE UNFREK. THE 8EKF. 201 

know not who shall make hot for him ; let him then 
be worthy of the J^edwwork which thereunto apper- 
taineth ; and let the wer abate from the kindred." 
Again, '^ If a freeman work upon a festival day, 
let him lose his freedom, or pay the wite or lah- 
slite'." This alternative is an alleviation of the 
strict law : but as forfeiture undoubtedly followed 
ujK>n theft and other offences, the thief could not 
expect to make hot for himself, and was always 
exposed to the danger of incurring slavery, should 
another make it for him. It is however possible 
that his relations may have interfered to save him, 
without the reducing him to a servus dedititius ; or 
even if he were so reduced, he became the serf of 
him that engaged (}7ingode) for him ; whereas, if 
not rescued at all, he must have been a fiscal serf, 
in the hands of the crown or the ger^fa, its officer. 
There exists therefore a perceptible difference be* 
tween the witej^edw whom the law made so, (even 
though it permitted a merciful alternative,) and 
the wite]7e6w whose punishment would have been a 
mulct which exceeded his means. The law of other 
German tribes numbers slavery among its punish- 
ments without any reservation at all : thus among 
the Visigoths, he that assisted in the escape of a 
serf, and neither restored him nor his worth to the 
owner, was to become a slave in his place*. By 
the Bavarian law, he that could not pay a wergyld 
due from him, was to be enslaved together with his 
wife and children^. Grimm'* cites the following case : 

' Eacl. and Gu«. § 7. ' LI. Visig. ix. § 1, 2. 

' LI. BajuT. i. § 11. « D. Rechtsalt. p. 329. 

202 THE SiVXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

*^ Richilda, quae libertatem suam fomicando pol- 
luit, amisit .... filiae illorum liberae permaneant, 
. • / . nisi forte adulterio vel fornicatione polluan- 
tur." It is true that the Anglosaxon laws do not 
give us any enactment of a corresponding nature : 
nevertheless I entertain no doubt that fornication 
was a ground of slavery in the case both of man 
and woman. Toward the end of the ninth century, 
Denewulf, bishop of Winchester, leased the lands 
of Alresford to a relative of his own, on condition 
of a yearly rent : ' ' Is equidem insipiens, adulterans, 
stuprum, propriam religiose pactatam abominans, 
scortum diligens, libidinose commisit. Quo reatu, 
omni substantia peculiali recte privatus est, et prae- 
fatum rus ab eo abstractum rex huius patriae suae 
ditioni avidus devenire iniuste optavit\" However 
unjust the canons of Winchester might think it, it 
is clear that the Witena-gemot did not ; for the bi- 
shop was obliged to pay 120 mancusses in gold to 
the king, to have back his own land. Again in the 
year 1002, we hear of a lady forfeiting her lands to 
the king, by reason of fornication *. The conse- 
quences of this destitution can hardly have been 
other than servitude : and it mav be at once admitted 
that where there were no lands to forfeit, servitude 
was the recognized punishment of the offence. 
Theodor^ when apportioning the penance due to it, 
says, '' Si intra viginti annos puella et adolescens 
peccaverint, i annum, et in secundo iii quadragesi- 
mas ac legitimas ferias. Si propter hoc peccatum 

> Cod. Dip. No. 601. ' nMd. No. 1296. 

' Lib. Poenit. xtL ^ 3. Thorpe, ii. 9. 

CH. vin.] THE UNFREE. THE SERF. 203 

servitio bumano addicti sunt, iii quadragesimas." 
Again, ^'Maritus si ipse seipsum in furtoaut forni- 
catione senrom facit, vel quocunque peccatoS" etc. 

The last division of the servi casu comprises 
those who have been reduced to slavery by violence 
or fraud, in short illegally. Illegitimate children, 
poor relations, unfriended strangers, young persons 
without power of self-defence, may thus have been 
seduced or forced into a servile condition of life, 
escape from which was always difficult, inasmuch 
as there is necessarily a prima facie case against 
the.serf, and he can have no standing in the court 
composed only of the free. To this head seem re- 
ferable the passages I have already alluded to in 
Theodor's Poenitential*, and which I will now cite 
at length : ^^ Si quis Christianus alterum Christia- 
num suaserit, ac in alteram regionem seduxerit, 
ibique eum vendiderit pro proprio servo, ille non 
est dignus inter Christianos requiem habere, donee 
redimat eum et reducat ad proprium locum." And 
again : ** Si quis Christianus alterum Christianum 
vagantem reppererit, eumque furatus fuerit ac ven- 
diderit, non debet habere inter Christianos requiem, 
donee redimat eum, et pro illo furto septem anuos 

The other great division includes all the servi 
natura^ nativiy or serfs by reason of unfree birth ; 
and as these are necessarily the children either of 
parents who are both unfree, or (under particular 
circumstances) of one unfree parent, it follows that 

' Thorpe, ii. 9, note 4. ' Supra, p. 200, note 2. 

' Lib. Poenitent. Theod. xlii. § 4. 6. See also xziii. § IS. 

2in THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book l. 

their hereditary condition may arise from any one 
of the conditions heretofore under examination. 
Ail the legitimate children of two serfs are them- 
selves irrevocably serfs ^ : but some distinctions 
arise where the parents are of unequal condition, 
as where the mother is free, the father unfree, and 
vice versa. In this respect the law was very dif- 
ferent among the different tribes : the Swedish law 
declared in favour of liberty*, the German generally 
the other way^. The Sachsenspiegel decides that 
the children follow the father's right^, and similarly 
the law of Henry the First* has, ** Si quis de s^rvo 
patre natus sit et matre libera, pro servo reddatur 
occisus ;" and again, '' Si pater sit liber et mater 
ancilla, pro libero reddatur occisus ;" on the gene- 
ral principle that '' semper a patre non a matre ge- 
neracionis ordo texitur," which Fortescue confirms, 
saying<>\ '* Lex Angliae nunquam matris, sed semper 
patris conditionem imitari partum iudicat, ut ex 
libera etiam ex nativa non nisi liberum liber ge- 
nei*et, et non nisi servuui in matrimonio procreare 
potest servus." Fleta's argument rests upon the 
same doctrine'. Glanville however appears to adopt 
the contrary view*, which agrees with the maxim 

' Tlieod. Poen. .w i. § 33. Eogb. Poeu. 3txv. 

* IVut. Rechtsalt. p. CiiM. ' Ibid. p. 324. 

' 5Whs. iii. 73. * LI. Hen. I. horii. § 1, 2. 

* Commeuil. cmp. xlii. ' Lib. i. cap. 3. § 2. 

** Sunt autem luktivi a prima nativitate $ua ; quemadznoduin si quis 
fiierit prvxreasus ex uativo et nativa, ille quidcm natiTus naadlvr. 
itieM fs: fi ex patre iibero et metre matira. Sed si ex matn liben cC 
jmtre nativo. idem est iliceudum quantum ad status inte^tatem.** Lib. 
V. i-ajK ti. But the (mssace in italic is wanting in so 
and may pgssibly bare been tbe gk)^ «r adibuon of a 


of the civil law, ** Partus sequitur ventrem." To 
the English principle I am bound to give my ad- 
hesion, inasmuch as the natural and the original 
social law can recognize none but the father, either 
in the generation, or in the subsequent rule, of the 
family : whatever alleviation the practices of chi- 
valry, the worship of the Virgin mother, and the 
Christian doctrine of the equality of man and wo- 
man before Grod, may have introduced, the original 
feeling is on the father's side, and the foundations 
of our law are based upon the all-sufficiency of 
his right. A woman is in the mund or keeping of 
a man ; society exists' for men only, that is, for 
women merely as far as they are represented by a 

That this original right was interfered with by 
the law of property is not denied. But here dif- 
ferent cases are to be considered. First, whether 
the serf or nativa is the property of the party who 
unites with him or her. Secondly whether the free 
party unite with some other owner's serf or neif ; 
next, whether the issue are born in wedlock or not ; 
and lastly how far the public law and right is in- 
volved in the question of freedom and servitude. 
The last consideration in fact involves the first, 
because, under the first, except in the case of hardly 
intelligible neglect, marriage could never take place 
between two unequal parties at all : emancipation 
must have preceded the ceremony ; while the civil 
law would of course rule that the ceremony itself, 
taking place by consent, was an act of emancipa- 
tion not to be gainsaid. It is therefore with regard 

206 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

to third parties only that a question can arisen 
There is no proof that such a question ever did arise 
among the Anglosaxons, or that it was thought 
needful to provide for it by law: and the earlier 
evidences with which this book has especially to do 
are either entirely silent, or so general in their ex- 
pressions that we cannot decide from them upon a 
particular case. In fact the whole argument is re- 
duced to the second head, viz. where one parent is 
the property of a third party, and where the child 
is born in lawful wedlock ; for a child not so bom 
is not subject to any law which binds the parents, is 
nullius JiliuSf and can as little be injured as advan- 
taged by the law. 

In the strict Anglosaxon law there is no definite 
decision on these points : the codes of other Ger- 
man races, at the oldest period, are equally silent. 
In later times indeed we have determinations ; but 
these, as we have observed, are contradictory. 
Perhaps we may take the doctrine of the Sachsen- 
spiegel, coinciding as it does with the opinion of 
many, probably a majority, of our own law-sages, 
as the original one, especially as it is the only one 
in accordance with other details of family life, and 
with the supreme law of nature itself which leaves 

' Of course ^ except mider circumstances which the Chrisdan clergy, 
anil pmbably even the heathen priesthooil., — and if neither of these, 
vet the universal human feehuj* — wouKl condemn^ the issue of such 
marria^^ couhl not have been treatetl as uufree, during the life of the 
father. Rut a question luiglit arisk.' after death, and on subsequent in- 
hcnt;uuv by third parties. And cases mij;ht occur where the public 
n;:ht n-ndereii it netvssar%- to take care that the unfree shoidd not en- 
joy the atlvantages of freedom. 


to the father the decision as to the life or death of 
the child, as to its liberty or slavery. In this sense 
then I agree with Sir John Fortescue and Sir Ed- 
ward Coke^ It is to be remembered that we are 
dealing now with the condition of the offspring, 
not of the parent : the uncertainty that prevails 
with respect to the latter, in the Angiosaxon law, 
and the contradictory enactments of other German 
codes have been already noticed. 

But all that has been said applies solely to the 
case of children born in lawful wedlock ; and 
almost all the apparent contradictions which have 
been noticed in our own law, arise from a want 
of clear distinction on this point. The child of a 
free father and unfree mother, if the parents were 
not married, remained to the lord of the neif, ac- 
cording to our expressive proverb, '' Mine is the 
calf that is bom of my cow^" In Fleta's words^ 
the distinction is drawn most clearly, and they may 
therefore stand here in place of my own : ** Servi 
autem aut nascuntur aut fiunt ; nascuntur quidem 
ex nativo et nativa solutis vel copulatis, et eius erit 
servus in cuius potestate nasci contigerit"^ ; duin 
tamen de soluta nativa, domini loci, quia sequitur 
conditionem matris, a quocunque fuerit genitus, 
libero vel nativo*. Si autem copulati fuerint et 

' Co. Litt. § 187, 18B. 

^ Take an instance, though with a wider application, from Shak- 
speare^ Kmg John, act i. so. 2. 

* Lib. i. cap. 3. § 2. 

* That is, if the serfs of two different lords, then the child to follow 
the mother. 

* In the event of there being no marriage. The case of a marriage 
is very different, and provided for in the next sentence. 

208 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

genitus fuerit partus a libero, licet a nativa, partus 
erit liber ; et si de servo et libera in matrimonio, 
servus erit." Thus, here again the offspring (oU 
lows the father, as soon as there is a marriage to 
determine that there is an offspring at all, in law ; 
but if there be no marriage, the chattel thrown into 
the world, like any other waif or stray belongs 
domino loci ; it has a value, can be worked or sold ; 
it is treasure- trove of a sort, and as it belongs to 
nobody else, falls to the lord, as a compensation 
probably for the loss of his neif 's services during 
pregnancy and the nonage of the child \ 

Whatever the origin of serfage may have been, 
it can hardly be questioned that the lot of the serf 
was a hard one; and this perhaps not so much 
from the amount of labour required of him, as 
from the total irresponsibility of the master, in the 
eye of the law, as to all dealings between himself 
and his Jjcow. The Christian clergy indeed did all 
they could to mitigate its hardships, but when has 
even Christianity itself been triumphant over the 
selfishness and the passions of the mass of men ? 
The early pagan Germans, though in general they 
treated their serfs well, yet sometimes slew them, 
under the influence of unbridled passion: ** Verbe- 
rare servum ac vinculis et opere coercere rarum. 
Occidere solent, non disciplina et severitate, sed 

' Mr. Allen in his valuable notes upon the law of Henry the First 
(published by Thorpe in his Anglosaxon Laws, i. 609-631) has some 
remarks upon the whole subject, as considered by our Norman jurists. 
His conclusions coincide generally with mine, and he says (p. 628), 
*' The Mirror makes the marriage of the parents an essential condition 
to the lil>erty of the offspring," etc. 


impetu et ira, ut inimicum, nisi quod impune est^" 
The church affixed a special penance to the man- 
slaughter of a woman by her mistress, impetu et 
ira^ — ^an event which probably was not unusual, 
considering the power of a lord over his J?e6wen 
or female slave, — and generally, a penance for the 
slaughter of a serf by his lord without judicial au- 
thority '. 

In contemplation of law, in fact, the slave is the 
absolute property of his lord, a chattel to be dis* 
posed of at the lord's pleasure, and having a value 
only for the benefit of the lord, or of some public 
authority in his place. The serf cannot represent 
himself or others : his interests must be guarded by 
others, for he himself has no standing in any pub- 
lic court. He is not in any fri^borh, or association 
for mutual guarantee, for he has nothing of his 
own to defend, and no power to defend what another 
has. If he be slain by a stranger, his lord claims 
the damages, and not his children : if the lord him- 
self slay him, it is but the loss of so much value, 
— a horse, an ox, gone — more or less. Out of his 

' Tac. Germ. xxv. 

* " Si faemina, furore zeli aecensa, flagellia verberaverit ancillam 
suam, ita ut infira diem tertium animam cruciatu effundat, et quod in- 
certum sit, voluntate an casu Occident ; si voluntate, vii annos ; si casu, 
per quinquemiii tempora^ ac legitima poenitentia, a communione pla- 
cuit abstinere." Poen. Theod. xxi. § 13. " Si quis servum proprium, 
sine conscientia iudicis, occiderit, excommunicatione vel poenitentia 
bieimii reatum sanguinis emundabit." Ibid. § 12. Even as late as the 
seventeenth centiuy in France, it appears that it was usual to flog the 
valets, pages and maids, in noble houses. Tallemant des R^ux men- 
tions a riot which arose in Paris from a woman's being whipped to 
death by her mistress, in August 1651. Sec his IIistoriette.s^ viii. 80; 
X. 255, etc. 

VOL. I. P 

210 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

death no feud can arise, for the relatives who al« 
lowed him to fall into, or remain in slavery, have 
renounced the family bond, and forfeited both the 
wergyld and the mund. If he be guilty of wrong, 
he cannot make compensation in money or in chat- 
tels ; for he can have no property of his own save 
his skin : thus his skin must pay for him^ and the 
lash be his bitter portion. He cannot defend him- 
self by his own oath or the oaths of friends and 
compurgators, but, if accused, must submit to the 
severe, uncertain and perilous test of the ordeal. 
And if, when thus hunted down, he be found guilty, 
severe and ignominious punishment, — amounting 
in a case of theft, to death by flogging for men, by 
burning, for women, — is reserved for him^ Na- 
turally and originally there can be no limitation io 
the amount or the character of labour imposed upon 
him, and no stipulation for reciprocal advantage 
in the form of protection, food or shelter. Among 
the Saxons the wite]7edw at least appears to have 
been bound to the soil, adscriptus glebae^^ conveyed 
with it under the comprehensive phrase ** mid mete 
and mid mannum :*' though in some few cases we 
can trace a power, vested perhaps only in certaia 
public authorities, of transferring the slave from 
one estate to another^. Last, but most fearful of all, 

* The corapcnsation for a flogging was called hidgcld. 
2 LI. iESelst. iii. § 6. Thorpe, i. 219. 

' Cod. Dipl. Nos. 311, 10/9. 

* Ibid. No. 311. The serfs mentioned in tliis document were at first 
attached to the royal vill of Bcusington ; but were now transferred to 
the land of the church at Radnor, with their offspring, and their po- 
sterity for ever. 

CH. viii.] THE UNFREE. THE SERF. 211 

the taint of blood descended to his offspring, and 
the innocent progeny, to the remotest generations, 
were born to the same miserable fate as bowed down 
the guilty or unfortunate parent. 

But yet there was a gleam of hope : one solitary 
ray that made even the surrounding darkness to- 
lerable, an(f may have cheered the broken-hearted 
serf through years of unrequited toil and suffering. 
The law that reduced him to slavery made it also 
possible that he should be restored to freedom. It 
did not shut from him this blessing, however dis- 
tant it might seem. Tacitus knew of liberti among 
the Germans, men who had been slaves, had been 
manumitted, and were free^ Thus in yet pagan 
times, general kindliness of disposition, habits of do- 
mestic intercourse, perhaps the suggestions of self- 
interest, may have tended to raise the condition of 
the serf even to the restoration of freedom : but it 
was the especial honour and glory of Christianity, 
that while it broke the spiritual bonds of sin, it ever 
actively laboured to relieve the heavy burthen of 
social servitude. We are distinctly told that Bishop 
Wilfrid, on receiving the grant of Selsey from 
Caedwealha of Wessex, immediately manumitted 
two hundred and fifty unfortunates, whom he found 
there attached to the soil, — that those, whom by 
baptism he had rescued from servitude to devils, 
might by the grant of liberty be rescued from servi- 
tude to man*. In this spirit of charity, the clergy 
obtained respite from labour for the ]?e6w on the 

^ Tac. Genu. xxv. » Bed. H. E. iv. 13. 


212 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book t. 

Sabbath, on certain high festivals and on the days 
which preceded or followed them'; the lord who 
compelled his j>e6vf to labour between the sunset 
on Saturday and the sunset on Sunday, forfeited 
him altogether^ ; probably at first to the king or 
the ger^fa ; but in the time of Cnut the serf thus 
forfeited was to become folkfree^. To their merd- 
fiil intervention it must also be ascribed that the 
will of a Saxon proprietor, laic as well as clerical, 
so constantly directs the manumission of a num- 
ber of serfs, for the soul's heal of the testator^; 
JElfred even goes so far as to give free power to 
the serf of bequeathing to whomsoever he pleases, 
whatever may have been given him for God's sake, 
or he may have earned in his own moments of lei-* 
sure^; and this provision, which probably implies a 
prohibition to the lord of removing his labourer 
arbitrarily from a plot of ground well cultivated by 
his own efforts, tends to secure to the unfortunate 
serf some interest in the produce of his industry : 
the Hungarian will recognize in it the spirit of 
Maria Theresia's Urbarium. It is moreover obvious 
from many surviving documents, that, in the later 
periods, the serf could purchase his own release^, 

' Ll.Wihtr. § 9, 10. Ini, § 3. Edw. Gu«. § 7. ^J«elr. viii. § 2. 

= LI. Ini, § 3. » Cnut, LI. Sec. § 45. 

* Cod. Dipl. Nos. 716, 721, 722, 782, 788, 919, 925, 931, 946, 947. 
957, 959, 981. 

^ LI. i£lf. § 43. ^Selred (viii. § 2) permits tbe serf to labour on 
his own account, three days before Michaelmas. Theodor (Poen. xix. 
§ 30) and Ecgberht (Poen. Addit. § 35) forbid the lord to rob his serf 
of what he may have acquired by his own industry. It was nevertheless 
held by some that the serf could not purchase his own freedom. 

^ This is true only of the Saxon, not of the Norman period. Glan- 

I. VIll,] 

THE CNFKEli. Till: SKIU'. 

at least with the lord's consent', or be bought by 
another for the purpose of manumission', or even 
he borrowed on pledge for a term of years*, during 
which his labour might be actively employed in 
laying up the means of future freedom. It cannot 
indeed be denied tbat the slave might be sold like 
any other chattel, and that even as late as jE^el- 
red and Cnut, the law ventured to proliibit no more 
than the selling him into heathendom, or without 
some fault on bis part* : nor can we believe that 
acts of the grossest oppression and tyranny were 
unfrequent. But from what has been already cited, 
it must he evident that there was a constantly 
growing tendency in favour of freedom, that the 
clergy suggested every motive, and the law made 
every possible effort, at least to diminish the more 
grievous circumstances of servitude. It is more- 
over to be borne in mind that a very large propor- 
tion of the fieowas at any given time, were in reality 
criminal serfs, convicts expiating their offences by 
their sufferings. Taking all the circumstances into 
consideration, I am disposed to think that the mere 
material condition of the unfree population was not 
necessarily or generally one of great hardship. It 

vilk eipreiifly deiiiea that the aert' could redeem himself. " lUuiI ta- 
men noUniliim eat, quod hod potest iiliquiii, in villenagio positus, liber- 
Ulem suun propriis deDiuiis suis quaerere. Posset enim tunc n donjioo 
■uo Rccuudum im ct cnnsuetudinem regni &d viUena^iim reTorari i quia 
oiania catalia cuimtibel naliiH inlelligantvr tsie in polrstair domini 
md, [perl quod propriii ilenuiiB suit vcrsui dominum suuni a ville- 
iMgio te redimere non potent." Olanv. lib. v. cap. 5. 

■ Cod. Di[d. Nos. 933, 934, 93S. 93fi, 981 (the 3Ut parapuph). 

> Ibid. No. 981 (the 28th psragraph). • Ibid. No, 975. 

* LI. JiSclr. V. § 1' ; vi. ^ !>. Cirnt, LI, Sec. i, 3. 

214 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [booe i. 

seems doubtful whether the labour of the serf was 
practically more severe, or the remuneration much 
less than that of an agricultural labourer in this 
country at this day : his lord was bound to feed him' 
for his own sake, and if, when old and worn out, be 
wished to rid himself of a useless burthen, he could 
by an act of emancipation hand over his broken* 
down labourer to the care of a Church which, with 
all its faults, never totally lost sight of the divine 
precepts of charity ^ We are not altogether with- 
out the means of judging as to the condition of the 
serf, and the provision made for him ; although the 
instances which we may cite are not all either of one 
period, or one country, or indeed derived firom 
compilations having the authority of law, they show 
sufficiently what opinion was entertained on this 
subject by some among the ruling class. In the 
prose version of Salomon and Saturn*, it is said 
that every serf ought to receive yearly seven hun- 
dred and thirty loaves, that is, two loaves a day, 
beside morning meals and noon meals ; this can- 
not be said to be a very niggardly portion. Again, 
the valuable document entituled, ''Rectitudines 
singularum personarum^," gives details respecting 

* The RomADS used to slay their infirm and useless serfs, or expose 
them in an island of the Tiber. Claudius made seTeral reguktioni 
in their favour. " Cum quidam aegra et affecta mancipia in trignWi 
Aesculapii taedio medendi exponerent, omnes qui exponerentuTy liberos 
esse sanxit, nee redire in ditionem domini, si couTaluissent ; quod si 
quis necare mallet quem quam exponere, caedis crimine teneri.'* Suet, 
in Claud. 25. 

' See supra, p. 38, note 1. 

' Thorpe, A. S. Laws, i. 432, and a later edition hy Dr. H. Leo of 
Halle, 1S42. 



the allowaoces made to the serfs in various prxdiaL 
or domestic capacities, which would induce a belief 
not only that they were tolerably provided for, but 
even enabled by the exertion of skill and industry 
to lay up funds of their own towards the purchase 
of their freedom, the redemption of their children, 
or the alleviation of their own poverty. From the 
same authority and others, we may conclude that 
on an estate in general, serfs discharged tiie func- 
tions of ploughman, shepherd, goatherd, swineherd, 
oxherd and cowherd, bam-man, sower, hayward, 
woodward, dajrymaid, and beadle or messenger ; 
while the geneat, cotsetia, gebur, beocere and ga- 
folswan were probably poor freemen from whom a 
certain portion of labour could be demanded in 
consideration of their holdings', or a certain rent 
(gafol) reserved out of the produce of the hives, 
flocks or herds committed to their care : and these 
formed the class of the Ltut and Esne, poor mer- 
cenaries, serving for hire or for their land, but not 
yet reduced so low in the scale as the J^ow or 
wealh. It is not only probable that there would be 
distinctions in the condition of various serfs upon 
the same estate, but even demonstrable : it can 
hardly be doubted that men placed in situations 
of some trust, as the ploughman, oxherd or beadle, 
were in a somewhat higher class, and of better con- 
dition, than the mere hewers of wood and drawers 

' Thi* ia the Robot of Slavonic 
maj) law i a mere labour-mtt, 
accuniuUted t^spital, aud wealth (for 
land, and limbg wberewith to till it. 

I, the Oprralio of our Nor^ 
I rouutries nhere thcru U n< 
of maiketi) coiuiitt otily ii 

216 TU£ SAX0N6 IN ENGLAND/ [booe i. 

of water. Now in a charter of the year 902, we 
find an interesting statement, which I must take 
leave to cite ' : Denewulf bishop of Winchester 
and his Chapter had leased land at Eblesbume to 
Beomwulf, a relative of the bishop : the Chapter 
sent word to Beomwulf that the men, that is the 
serfs, were to remain attached to the land — '* Vset 
%a men mdston on %am lande wunian " — whether 
he, or any other, held it : ^^ %onne wseron Sser )>reo 
wite))e6we men bdrbserde, ^ )>reo )>e6wb8erde, Va 
me salde bisceop *i %a fiiwan t6 rihtre sehte *i hira 
team :" ** Now there were three convicts biirboerde 
and three J^edwbserde, whom the bishop and the 
brethren gave me, together with their offspring." 
The expressions used in this passage seem to show 
that some of the wite)>e6we men upon this estate 
enjoyed a higher condition than others *, being cul^ 
tivators or boorSy while the others were more strictly 
slaves. The very curious and instructive dialogue 
of iElfric numbers among the serfs the yr^ling or 
ploughman, whose occupation the author neverthe- 
less places at the bead of all the crafts, with perhaps 
a partial exception in favour of the smith's ^. 

Servitude ceased by voluntary or compulsory 
manumission on the part of the lord; the latter 
case being that where the services of the slave were 
forfeited through the misconduct of the master. 

> Cod. Dip. No. 1079. 

' The compounds of bdrde cannot denote an^ihing but a permanent 
condition or quality ; they are nearly equivalent to the compounds of 
cund, excepting that they are necessarily ^persoaa/. 

' Thorpe, Analecta. 

CH. viii.] THE UNFREE. THE SERF. 217 

And as loss of liberty must be considered in the 
main as a consequence of the public law, under- 
stood in the general, and expressed in the parti- 
cular case, so must it I think be asserted, that at 
Jirst emancipation depended in some degree upon 
the popular will as well as the mercy or caprice of 
private individuals. It is no doubt true, that at 
a period when what we now call crimes were ra- 
ther considered in the light of civil injuries, for 
which satisfaction was due to the parties injured, it 
might seem reasonable to leave the latter in pos- 
session of the power to assess the minimum, at 
least, of his own satisfaction : to allow him to de- 
cide how long a period of servitude he would con- 
tent himself with, if he chose to renounce the right 
he possessed of claiming an endless one ; or lastly, 
to reward good and faithful service by cancelling 
the consequences of an earlier wrong. But eman- 
cipation has two very different effects : it not only 
relieves the serf from personal burthens and dis- 
abilities, but it restores or introduces a citizen to 
political and public rights. In a state of society 
where landed possession and the exercise of such 
rights are inseparable, a grave difficulty arises, viz. 
how can provision be made for the newly emanci- 
pated, and now free man ? If the community will 
consent, and possess the means, to create a new free 
Hide for his occupation, of course the matter can 
be managed ; but this consent renders the eman- 
cipation in reality the act of the state, not of the 
manumittor. Or the lord on restoring freedom to 
his serf may endow him with a portion of his own 


land, sufficient for easy or even wealthy subsistence ; 
but this will not make him fully a free man, give 
him his full position in the iroXcrev/ua or polity, and 
place him on a level with the free inhabitants of 
the Mark. 

Till periods very late in comparison with that 
which is assumed in the course of this aipiment, a 
similar principle prevails in our legislation upon this 
subject. Glanville says, '^ It is also to be observed 
that a man may enfranchise his serf in respect of 
the persons of himself or his heirs, but not in re- 
spect of others. For if any one, having once been 
a serf, and afterwards having attained to freedom in 
this manner, should be produced in court against a 
third party to support a cause, or for the purpose 
of making any law of the land, he may justly 
be removed therefrom, if his birth in villenage 
should be objected to and proved against him in 
the court, even though the serf so enfranchised 
should have come to be promoted unto a knight's 

Later still, liberty seems considered as a privilege 
the value of which mis:ht be diminished bv its ex- 
tension ; and Fleta sdves as a reason whv the lord 
is bound to pursue his fugitive serf, ^' lest by iie^- 
ligeficf of the lords, serts should prevail to assert 
their own freedom*." 

On consideration therefore of all the facts, we 
must conclude that where full and complete manu- 
mission was intended, the transaction could oolv be 

T. cifk^du * UktcifL7»i7»& 



completed in the presence and with the co-opera- 
tion of the community, whereby all claims besides 
those of the manumitting lord would be formally 
estopped for the future. And this would be nearly 
equivalent to the admission (rare indeed) of a metic 
or other stranger to the full rights of citizenship at 
Athens, which could hardly have effect without a 
\{ili<j>iana or deliberate vote of the whole people'. 
Accordingly even in the laws of William the Con- 
queror and Henry the First we find evidence that 
the completest publicity was given to formal manu- 
missions^; and it is not unreasonable to believe 
that this refers back to a time when such publicity 
may have consisted in the presentation of the serf 
before the assembled folcm6t, and their expressed 
or implied assent to the solemn act. 

Practically however, it is probable that the dis- 
solution of servitude did not absolutely confer all 
the privileges of freedom. The numerous acts of 
manumission directed by the wills of great land- 

' The "Uvea who fought on the Athenian side at Arginusae were 
mjuumitted and enrolled among the PlataeaiiB, being tliui admitted into 
the woKlrtvita. We learn this from a fragment of IlellaiiicuB, jireserred 
in the Scholiast on Ariet. Ran. 7^> '■ the words are, rois miyraviiajd- 
aarrac ioiXovt 'EXXowinfr ■j»|crii' i\iv$ipii6riiim, (ai iyypa^irras it 
nXaraiiis miiiwokiTfitaSai airoU. Sec also Niebtihi (Hare- and Thirl- 
wall), p. 'JCA. The Langobords upon a soinewliat similar uecuion manu- 
mitted their serfs. " Igitiir Longohardi, ut bcllatorum possent am- 
pliare numerum, phires a se serrili iugo ereptos, a<l Hbertatii statum 
perducunt. Utquc rata jKisset haberi liberlas, saueiunt, more sohto, per 
Mgittam, iumurmurantes nihitominus ob rei firmitatem, quaedam pa- 
trm verba." Paul. Diac. de Gest. i. 13. 

' " Si qui vero v.-Ut serrum »uum libenim facere, tradat eum vice- 
comiti," etc. LI. Wil. iii. ^ 15. " Qui servum suuin liberat, in aeeclesia, 
Tel mercato, vel comitatu, »b1 hundreto," etc. LI. Hen. L 1, § 78. 

220 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

owners are totally inconsistent with the notion of 
any interference on the part of the assembled peo- 
ple, as necessary to their validity : the instances, it 
is true, are mostly of modern date, but still we 
bear of manumissions by wholesale at very early 
periods, where nothing but the lord's own will can 
possibly be thought of ^ It seems therefore pro- 
bable that a certain amount of dependence was re- 
served; that the freedman became relieved from 
the harsher provisions of his former condition, but 
remained in general under the protection and on 
the land of his former lord, perhaps receiving wages 
for services still rendered. In the eighth century 
Wihtraed of Kent enacted that even iu the case of 
solemn manumission at the altar, the inheritance, 
the wergyld and the mund of the family should re- 
main to the lord, whether the new freedman conti- 
nued to reside within the Mark or not^ The mode 
of provision for the emancipated serf must, in a 
majority of cases, have led to this result. The lord 
endowed him out of his own land, either with a 
full possession, secured by charter, or a mere tem- 
porary, conditional loan, km: the man therefore 
remained upon the lord's estate, and in his bark 
or surety, though no longer liable to servile disabi- 
lities^ ' 

> For exmmple MUfri'SV ^ Sdsev ; see above, p. 211. 

' LI. Wihtr. § 8. 

' WuUwmm in her will direcu her legatees to feed twenty freoUmcB 
or fireedmen. Cod. Dipl. No. 694. Ketel commands that all the mem 
whom he has freed shall have all that is mmder their kmud, — probably 
all they had received as stock, or had been able to gpin by their im* 
dustn-.' Cod. DipL No. ICMIK 



The full ceremonies used in the solemn act of 
emancipation by the Anglosaxons are not known to 
us ; but there is reason to suppose that they resem- 
bled those of other Teutonic nations. Generally 
these may be divided into civil and ecclesiastical ; 
the former receiving their sanction from the autho- 
rity of the people or the prince, the tatter from 
the church and its peculiar influences. " He who 
ivould emancipate his serf shall deliver him to the 
Bheriff, by the right hand, in full county, shall pro- 
claim him free from all yoke of servitude by ma- 
numission, shall show him open roads and doors, 
and shall deliver unto him the arms of a free man, 
namely the lance and sword : thenceforth the man 
is free'." Such is the law of William the Con- 
queror, and it is repeated with little variation by 
Henry the First , except that there is no limitation 
to the sheriff and the county. But this was also 
one form of manumission among the Langobards. 
The person who was to he made Fulfreal was de- 
livered over successively into the hands of four 
different persons : the last of these brought him 
before witnesses to a spot where four roads met, 
and his choice was given him of these roads. He 
was then free, and dmund, that is removed from 
; under the protection of his former master". But it 

' Will. Cooq. iii. ^ 15. 

' " Qui winiin suiiin libcrat, in aeccleua, ve\ mercato, vel nomitatu, 
' vel hiindreto, coram testibus et pataDi fariat, et libem ei viu et portu 
rconstrribat apcrtas, et lauceam et ((latliuin, vet quae liberorum arma 
want, in manibus ei ponat." lien. I. Ixiviii. § I. Uencc the manu- 
■littetl lerf ii calleil I'rco 1 fKrewyrS, free and farneorlky, that h, 
i^Tingthe right to go nhithcr he choom. 
' L. Rolharis, Laogob. Rtf. rap. 225. 

222 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. • [book i. 

appears that the master, even though he gave the 
free roads, might reserve the mund of his freedmaDi 
by which he retained the right of inheriting from 
him, if he died childless ^ ; and this recalls to nl 
the provision already cited from the Kentish law*; 
The history of Ramsey informs us that iG^elst^, 
the son of Manni, adopted this form in a very ex* 
tensive emancipation of his serfs^, and we may 
therefore suppose it to have been a mode usual 
among the Saxons. Among the Franks, the fullest 
and completest act of emancipation was that which 
took place before the king, or in a popular court ; 
the freedman, from the ceremonies adopted on the 
occasion, was called Denaridlis^ or Denariatus, '' qui 
denarium ante regem iactavit." He became capa- 
ble of a wergyld, of contracting marriage with a 
free woman, and in general obtained all the. rights 
of a free citizen. But he still remained in some 
degree under the mund of the king, who received 
his wergyld, and had certain rights over his inherit- 
ance^. I do not know whether this has any con- 
nexion with a law of Henry the First, which pro- 
\ides that in any case of manumission, the serf 
shall give thirty pence to the lord, as a witness, 
namely the price of his skin, for a testimony that 

» Ll. Roth. Langob. Reg. cap. 226. « LI. Wiht. § 8. 

^ ** Per omnes terras suas, de triginta homiuibus numeratis, tredecim 
manumisit, quemadmodum eum sors docuit, ut in quadrivio ptrnti 
pergerent quocunque roluissent.*^ Hist. Ram. 29. 

** See Eiclihom, i. 3.33. Sueh a ])erson resembles the Langobardic 
freedman per impons. Ibid. p. 331. 1 imagine the principle upoQ 
which the werg}*ld went to the king, to be this : the freedman either 
never had a free m^g^S, or they had forfeited the msegsceaft by suffer* 
ing him to be reduced to serfage. Compare Ll. £adw. § 9. 

CH. viii.] THE UNFREE. THE SERF. 223 

he is thenceforth himself its master ^ There was a 
form of manumission among the Franks by charter^, 
which however did not confer all the privileges of 
the denarialia. The holder of such a charter was 
thence called Chartularius : I will not assert that 
such a system prevailed here, although it is possi-^ 
ble that some of the many charters of emancipation » 
printed in the Codex Diplomaticus, may be of tliis 
nature. Their general character however is that of 
a record of bargain and sale between different par- 
ties : it may be indeed presumed that emancipation 
would follow, but there is no positive statement 
that it did. The following class of cases perhaps 
approaches nearest to such a charta ingenuitatis : 
''By this book of the Gospels it appeareth that 
^Ifwig the Red hath bought himself out, from Ab- 
bat iElfsige and all the convent, with one pound. 
Whereof is witness all the brotherhood at Bath. 
Christ blind him who turneth away this record^!" 
But this is only a memorandum in a copy of the 
Gospels, no charter of manumission ; and I presume 
that the sheriff would have required some much 
more definite and legal act, before he looked upon 
^Ifwig the Red as a freeman. Probably he was 
duly made free at the altar of the abbey church or 
at the door^. Of this subsequent process we have 
a good example in the book of St. Petroc. 

' L. Hen. I. Ixxviii. § 3. That is, that he is no longer liahle to 
oorpond punishment like a serf. 

' " Qui vero per chartam ingenuitatis dimissi sunt Uheri/' etc. Capit. 
Bajuvar. an. 788. cap. 7 (Georgisch. p. 548). Eichhom, i. 332. 

» Cod. Dipl. 1350. 

* Every lawyer knows the value of the ad ostium aecclesiae, at any 
rate in matters of dower. It implies perfect publicity. 

224 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book t. 

'' This book beareth witneBS that iElfsige bought 
a woman called Ongyne^li and her son GyViccael, 
of Durcil for half a pound, at the church-door in 
Bodmin : and he gave to JSlfsige the portreeve and 
Maccos the hundred-man, fourpence as toll. Then 
came iElfsige who bought these persons, and took 
them, and freed them, ever sacles, on Petroc's altar, 
in the witness of these good men ; that is, Isaac the 
priest S" etc. 

Of all forms of emancipation I imagine this to 
have been the most frequent, partly because of its 
convenience, partly because the motives for eman- 
cipation were generally of a religious cast, and the 
sanctions of religion were solemn and awful. At* 
most all the records which we possess on this sub* 
ject are taken from the margins of Gospels or other 
books belonging to religious houses, and the few 
references in the laws imply emancipation at the 
altar. Among the Franks this form, in which the 
freedman was called Tabularius, conveyed only 
imperfect freedom : the utmost it could do was to 
confer the privileges of a Roman provincial, to 
which class the clergy were reckoned : but the tabu* 
larius even so was not fully free ; he still remained 
in the mund of the church. Wihtraed's law, so often 
cited, shows clearly that this was not the case in 
England ; nor could it be, seeing that the clergy 
among us were national, and the Prankish system 
of personal rights did not prevail. I am therefore 
disposed to think that gradually emancipation at 
the altar was taken to convey all the privileges of 

^ Coil. Dipl. 981. § 2f^. 


manumission, and that it was the mode generally, 
though not exclusively, in use. On this point, the 
want of documents prevents our attaining certainty. 
The method was prohahly this : the man was for- 
mally offered up before the high altar, and there de- 
clared free in the presence of the officiating clergy 
and the congregation. A memorandum was then 
made in some religious book belonging to the 
church, and the names of the witnesses were re- 
corded. Whether a separate certificate was pre- 
pared does not appear. 

The full extent of the rights obtained by the 
freedman, especially in respect of inheritance, is 
not to be gathered from any existing Anglosaxon 
document. It is probable that these were limited, 
as among the Langobards and Franks : his offspring 
however were free, and his marriage with a free 
woman, equal : his other rights, duties and privi- 
leges, in short his general condition, were in all 
probability determined by certain arrangements 
between himself and his lord previous to the act of 
manumission. In such a case neither party would 
find much difficulty in settling the terms of a bar- 


Thx following pedigrees illustrate the care with which the relations of 
the gebdr, and other dependent cultivators on an estate were recorded. 
It is probable, nay even certain, that such records were preserved in all 
lordships : they were the original court-rolls, by copy of which the un- 
free tenants, perhaps also the poor freemen, held, who were thus the 
Bjicient copyholders. The amount of the holdings was undoubtedly 

VOL. I. Q 

226 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

settloii by the custom of the county or the manor; and it it probable 
tliat one measure prevailed for all tenants of similar grades. A record 
of descents was necessan* to regulate the claims of a lord to the fiutii- 
lies of his cohni, and some extensive system of registration Teiy pto- 
bably prevailed : it would be impossible without it to secure the doe 
o|>eration of the law of team. 

" Dudila was a gebdr at Hs'Kfeld, and he had three daughters, one 
was named De6rw}*n, the second I>e6rswy5, the third Golde. And 
Wuldaf at llse^feld hath De6rw}-n to wife, JSlfstan at Ta!ccingawyi« 
hath De<Srswy 5 to wife, and EaUistiui, Jllfttin's brother, bath Golde to 
wife. There was a man named Hwita, the beemaater at Hi^fdd, and 
he had a daughter Tate, the mother of Wulfisige, the bowman; and 
Widfsige^s sister Lulle hath Hehstan to wife, at Wealden. Wifiis and 
Dunne ami Seoloce are inborn to Hs^feld. Duding, the son of WdSm, 
is settled at Wealden : and Ceolmund the son of Dunne, alao sits st 
Wealden. and Ji^^elheah the son of Seoloce, also sits at Wealden : and 
Tate« Cenwold*s sister. M«g has to wife at Welgun ; and Eidhefan, the 
•on of llereitn'^s, hath Tate's daughter to wife. Wserlaf, Wcrstin'i 
father, was a right serf at H«5fehl« he held the grey swine^" 

** ^ A man named Brada was a gebur at H«5feld, and Hwite was 
the name of Brada*s wife : she was a gebur*s daughter at HieCfeUL 
Ilwiie was Wirrrtan's Warf<^^s and Wvnborh's third mother'. And 
Wxrstan sits at Wadtun, and hath Wine's sister to wife, and Wine hath 
Wjer^n-y to wife. And Dunne sat at Wiuhun. she was inborn to H«<5- 
tVld: and IVorvryu her daughter hath Cynewald to wi£(at Munden: and 
l\vniJi> her brv>:h<:r :* w:th Cjiww^ild. .Vud Dudde, Wifus's daughter 
*::s AC W:*.r.:-UvU'*;t\ji. CvrLa^rl'j:. Ce'nw aid's titter, wi* agebiir at H«?- 
tvld. and MancJL daw^d's wa. s:t» at Wadnm under Eidwmld." 

" •{• Huhe. l>^ bL;Ui '« moch^T^m-Jiw. ini* wmoved from HxSfeld 
iu:o F;C*.v.i?ii.*5fu : Aiivl .E Vl'wri-s. EaduiT^ and JE^Vl£%'5 were three 
s;«vrs; An^l T'tlwme inv*. Duivta. tb&ese wi*re a3 Bcace's chUdrRi: and 
VjLlbs;:4n Ti>i2<*s $v.a. and WulI*!k^ Ej«iQxu's son. and CeoDiefaii 
-FN.\^ >** ^v'-jL. iTvl Cojl^Tin inc Minw^nie. Tbis kin came from 
^Uj»r>>V-v*, . lV«,-o»v.'/. C>"s.'cur*i** 5ca. mc ii» r»v> outers: and Cy- 
Uv-rv i: v'.jr frv.j: :< :>.\fc: VwTiOitf. Pi^fse sen x:« ih< vur^^u of Tata, 

i: X ••.-^.'Id^.V :>^: il" :L*:s*. ylww irv ji Uirrjjnisiin?- or in Eswx. 
I'z .v<> ,v<. -.ixs v>v i;.L :li:f<ji And W^lojifa : then! 3 no Clavmng 
vi =Lr*r,v.v*j;r\". :>j.: I 'xjlc* .c v.>i :h<f cci^rr liu^i I *ai aoc awaie 

VIC i:."<*wjc*::cu jjc,a«ioi >-• Si r--J."i«ti s^'ji.. 'isiscxit rait J'Xf 


In 880 JEMied, duke.of Mercia, gave Tarious estates to the bishopric 
of Worcester. He also gave six persons with their offspring, who had 
previously been adscripti gUbas at the royal vill of Bensington. " These 
are the names of the persons who are written from Bensington to Reada- 
nora, to the bishopric of Worcester, with their offspring, and the pro- 
geny that may come of them to all eternity : Alhmund, Hdwulf, Tld- 
he&h. Lull and £4dwulf ^" 

In 902« Beomwulf homed (gehimette), that is attached to his manor 
of Eblesbume, a number of persons, of both sexes. Lufe and her 
three children, Luha and his six children are named'. 

In the time of Eadgdr we have the record of several persons esta- 
hJiahing by their oaths that their parents had not been serfs or co^oih of 
the king*. An Appendix to this chapter contains numerous examples 
of manumissions, of various periods. 

Cod. Dipl. No. 31 1 . « Ibid. No. 1079. » Ibid. No. 981 . 






The organization in Marks and in the G& or Sc(r 
was a territorial one, based upon the natural con- 
formation of the country, common possession of the 
soil and usufruct of its produce. It has been already 
said that both of these divisions had their separate 
courts of justice or parliaments, their judges and 
executive officers. But some further machinery 
was required to secure the public peace, to provide 
for the exercise of what, in modem society, we call 
the police, and to ensure the rights of the indivi- 
dual markman, in respect to other markmen, as well 
as his conformity to the general law. A corporate 
existence was necessary, which should embrace a 
more detailed system of relations than was to be 
found either in the Mark or in the Shiremoot. 
Strictly speaking, the former of these was princi- 
pally busied with the questions which arose out 
of its own peculiar nature, that is, with offences 
against the integrity of the frontier, the forest, the 
rights of common in the pastures and meadows, 
and other delinquencies of a public character. On 
the other hand, the Shiremoot, though it must have 
taken cognizance of disputed questions between 
several Marks, and may, even from the first, have 


exercised some description of appellate jurisdiction, 
must naturally have considered the higher and more 
general attributes of legislation and foreign policy, 
the national rather than municipal administration, 
as belonging to its peculiar and appropriate pro- 
vince. Perhaps also the exigencies of military dis- 
cipline may gradually have rendered a more com- 
plicated method of enrolment necessary, by means 
of which companies and regiments might be kept 
upon a permanent footing, and called into imme- 
diate action when occasion demanded their ser- 
vices ; while, at the same time, due provision was 
made for the tilling the lands of those whose per- 
sonal exertions were required in defence of the 
public weal ^ 

There were two forms in which these various 
objects might be attained ; these were, subordinate 
oi^anizations of men, not excessive in number, or 
too widely dispersed, and founded either upon the 
bond of blood and the ties of family, including that 
of adoption 9 or merely upon an arbitrary numerical 
definition. Each of these plans had advantages as 
well as defects : the family bond alone did not se- 
cure a sufficient territorial unity, although in prac- 
tice it had at first considerable influence upon the 
location of individual households ; moreover it gave 
rise to an inequality continually on the increase, 
and necessarily threatening to the independence of 
the free men. On the other hand, any merely arbi- 
trary, numerical classification would have excluded 

' For the Prankish custom see the Capituhury of the year 807. 
Pertx, iii. 149. and Donniges, Deut. Staatsr. pp. 92, 93. 


a mo8t important social elementi the responsibility 
of man to man in the bond of kindred, the feeliogs 
and engagements of family affection, family honour 
and family ambition. The problem was finally 
solved by a partial union of the two methods : in 
all probability, the law of compromise which reigns 
throughout all history, gradually brought about a 
fusion of two separate principles, widely difiering 
in point of antiquity, and thus superinduced the 
artificial upon the natural bond, without entirely 
destroying the influence of the latter. 

For I think it unquestionable that the artificial 
bond was really later in point of time : since, in 
the first place, indefinite and vague arrangements 
usually precede the definite and settled ; and next, 
because Tacitus takes no notice whatever of any 
but the family bond, which he represents as strin* 
gent in the highest degree. We have already seen 
y.^ that Caesar declares the divisions of the land to 
have taken place according to families or rela* 
tionsbips, cognationes^ , from which we may infer 
at first a considerable amount of territorial unity. 
From his far more observant successor we learn 
that the military organization was based upon the 
same principle ; that the composition of the troop 
or regiment depended upon no accidental arrange- 
ment, but was founded upon families or relation- 
ships^ \ and that every man was bound to take up 

' See above, p. «i9, note 1. 

' *'Quodque praecipuum fortitudinis incitamentum est, non cmsos 
nee fortuita conglobatio turmam aut cuneum fitcit, ted familitfj ^i pio- 
pinquitates." Genn. vii. 


the enmities as well as the friendships of his father 
or kinsman'. But leaving these earlier evidences, 
it still seems that the Meegburh or Family-bond is 
an institution whose full comprehension is neces- 
sarj' to a clear conception of the Anglosaxon public 
and private life. 

The idea of the family is at once the earliest and 
strongest of human ties : in its development it is 
also the most emiobling to the individual and salu- 
tary to the state ; on it depend the honour and 
dignity of woman, the unselfish education of man, 
the training of children to obedience and love, of 
parents to protection and justice, of all to love of 
country and enlightened subordination to the state. 
Where it does not exist, man becomes an instru- 
ment in the hands of others, or the blind tool of 
systems. In its highest form it is the representa- 
tive of that great mystery by which all Christians 
are one brotherhood, united under one Father and 
King. Throughout the latter day of ethnic civili- 
zation, when the idea of slate had almost ceased 
to have power, and the idea of family did not exist, 
there was a complete destruction both of public 
and private morality; and the world, grown to be 
a sink of filth and vice, was tottering to the fall 
which Providence in mercy had decreed for its 
purification. The irruption of the German tribes 
breathed into the dead bones of heathen cultivation 
the breath of a new life ; and the individual dignity 
of man as a member of a family, — the deep-seated 

232 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

feeling of all those nations, — while it prepared 
them to become the founders of Christian states 
which should endure, made them the wonder of 
the philosophers and theologians of Rome, Ghreece 
and Africa, and an example to be held up to the 
degenerate races whom they had subdued ^ The 
German house was a holy thing ; the bond of mar- 
riage a sacred and symbolic engagement*; holy 
above man was woman herself. Even in the depths 
of their forests the stem warriors had assigned to 
her a station which nothing but that deep feeling 
could have rendered possible : this was the sacred 
sex, believed to be in nearer communion with divi- 
nity than men^. In the superstitious tradition of 
their mythology, it was the young and beautiful 
Shieldmays, the maiden Wselcyrian, who selected 
the champions that had deserved to become the 
guests of Woden. The matrons presided over the 
rites of religion, conducted divinations^ and en- 
couraged the warriors on the field of battle* ; Ve- 

* What had struck Tacitus with astonishment and admiration in the 
first century (Germ, xviii. xis.\ seemed equally remarkable to the 
thinkers of the Roman world in the fourth and fifth. Innumerable 
passages confirmator}* of the averments in the text might be cited from 
Augustine, Orosius, Salvianus, or even Procopius, — testimonies all the 
more valuable because supplied by hostile witnesses, by the conquered 
of the conqueror, the orthodox of the Arian. 

* Tac. Crerm. xix. • IhiA, viii. 

* Caes. BeU. Gall. i. 50. 

* Tac. Germ. vii. viii. After the defeat of the Cimbri by Marius, 
their women applied to the Consul, to have their chastity respected, 
and themselves assigned as serfs to the vestal virgins. On receiving a 
reftisal they put their children and then themselves to death. The dogs 
that had accompanied them, long defended their corpses. See Floms, 
iii. 3, and Orosius, v. 16. 


ledas and Aurinias, prophetesses in the bloom of 
youtli and beauty, led the raw levies of the North 
to triumph over the veteran legions of Rome. 
Neither rank nor wealth could atone for violated 
chastity'; nor were in general any injuries more 
severely punished than those which the main 
strength of man enabled him to inflict on woman^ 
That woman, nevertheless, in the family, held a 
subordinate situation to men, lies in the nature of 
the family itself, and in the disposition and quali- 
ties which have been implanted in woman, to ea<- 
able her to fulfil her appointed duties in the scheme 
of Providence ; quahties not difterent in degree, but 
kind, from those of her helpmate, that they may be 
the complement of his, and, united with bis, make 
up the full and perfect circle of humanity. As 
an individual, woman was considered a being of a 
higher nature ; as a member of the state, she was 
necessarily represented by him upon whom nature 
had imposed the joyful burthen of her support, and 
the happy duty of her protection, — a principle too 
little considered by those who, with a scarcely par- 
donable sciolism, have clamoured for what they call 
the rights of woman. Woman among the Teutons 
was near akin to divinity, but not one among them 
ever raved that thefemme Hire could be woman. 
Hence the profound importance attached to cha- 

' Tap. Germ. xix. 

' For tliis a gcaemi reference to the Barbarian laws nmst auffico. 
Alaric even went Ihe length of pulling' to ileath a noble Gotb, 
wlio, during tlie rack of the city, had violated the daughter of a Roman 


stity, and the undoubted influence of alliances by 
marriage\ through which separate kindreds are 
fused into one body, adopting common interests^ 
pursuing common objects, and recognizing in the 
bond which unites its members, obligations which 
are still exhibited in oriental countries, which we 
trace throughout the middle ages of Europe, but 
which are gradually vanishing under the conditions 
of our modern, mercantile society. 

It lies in the very nature of things that among a 
people animated with such principles as have now 
been described, and so placed by circumstances on 
tracts of land far more than sufficient for their sup* 
port, the very earliest organization should be based 
upon the family relations. Dwelling near to one an- 
other, united by a community of interests and the 
endearing ties of mutual relationship, or the scarcely 
weaker bond of adoption, — strong as regards other 
families in direct proportion to their union among 
themselves, — the maeg¥ or family oflfer all the gua- 
rantees in their own natural position which the pri<> 
mitive state can require. In the popular councils 
the largest and most distinguished family has ne« 
cessarily the greatest weight; but association of 
others, severally less powerful, is always capable of 
counteracting danger w^hich might arise in a free 
state from the ambition of any of its portions. In 
the absence of a central power, — or rather its di- 
spersion through all the several members of the com- 

^ A beautiful evidence of this lies in the epic nnme for womnn ; in 
Anglotaxon poetry she is cmlled freo^webbe, ih§ wMver ^ jmscc. 
Beow. 1. 3S80. Trav. S. 1. 11. 


munity, the collection of revenue and the main- 
tenance of the peace must be left to the heads of 
the several fractions, whether villages (as in the 
£^t), or families, which at one time are identical 
with villages. The poUce therefore especially be* 
longs to the family, and is by it exercised over all 
the individuals that compose it; hence also the 
grave misconduct of the individual may justly have 
the effect of destroying the social position of the 
whole mseg%. In Be6wulf, the warriors who de* 
serted their prince in his utmost need, are sternly 
told by his successor, that not only they, but their 
whole msegburh will thenceforth have forfeited the 
rights of citizenship, 

folcrihtes sceal 
t$i6re in8%barge 
moniiA i%bwjlc 
Idel hweorfiui, 

not, each of you individually , but each and every man 
of your kin, cognation or msegsceaft, shall be de- 
prived of his rights of citizenship : from which we 
must infer that the misconduct of one person might 
compromise bis relatives, who are held responsible 
for his actions ^ And this rule, coupled ¥rith the 
fact of all serving together, under one selected from 
among themselves, and each under the eye of his 
nearest and dearest friends, supplied a military or- 
ganization capable of enabling the barbarians to 
cope with far more disciplined and scientific mili- 
tary systems than their own ; serving to explain 

' See the remariuble pawftge cited at p. 188, note I. 

236 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

the almost irresistible power with which, like the 
Turks of more recent times, the Teutons of old burst 
upon the nations exposed to their onsets The wer- 
gyld, or price of blood, the earliest institution of 
this race, only becomes perfectly intelligible when 
considered from this point of view : the gens or fa- 
mily at large are injured by the loss of their asso- 
ciate, and to them compensation must be made; 
so they, in turn, must make compensation for him, 
since rights and duties are commensurate. This 
principle, however darkly, is still involved in the 
theory of our civil actions for seduction. 

' Weight and momentum combined are the secret of modem tactici, 
and morally speaking (L e. the appearance in sopericw force on certaiii 
points), of modem strategics also. CaTahry charging in suocessiTe edie- 
lons would always break infimtry but for the check which man and 
horse experience in their speed from the file-firing of the squares : tiie 
mere weight of the horse faUimg dead into the first rank would break 
it if he reached it. If the weight of the adrandng body be greater than 
that of the resisting, the latter is destroyed. A successful charge of 
cavalry won the battle of Marengo^ an unsuccessful one lost that of 
Waterloo. Modem warfare was more changed by the substitution of 
iron for wooden ramrods, by which the momentum of musket-balls was 
increased, than by almost any other mere change of detail. Steam- 
carriages and scythe-chariots, the Macedonian phalanx — nay, eren 
squadrons of horse, are only larger bullets, which may be launched 
with more or less success ; all these are mechanical discoveries conse- 
quent upon the fact that the individuals of which armies are composed 
are lower in the scale of moral dignity than of old. Once group men 
in masses, and they become subject, more or less, according as disci- 
pline has destroyed their individuality, to the mechanical laws which 
govern the relations of all masses. No doubt a stone wall will turn 
any charge of cavalry ; and so will a regiment of infantry, in exact pro- 
portion as yon teach it to stand like a stone wall, that is, as you destroy 
the individual action of each soldier. The Romans stood above two 
feet apart; our men touch one another at the elbows. Our armies 
are fitter perhaps for aggressive movements. The Germans probably 
charged tumultuously ; but the scyldburh, or wall of shields, was hardly 
less capable of receiving a charge than our own squares. 




It lies in the very nature of things that this, al- 
beit a natural, cannot be an enduring system. Its 
principal condition is neighbourhood, the concen- 
tration of the family upon one spot : as population 
increases, and with it emigration, the family bond 
gradually becomes weaker, and at last perishes as 
a positive and substantive institution, surviving 
only fragmentarily in the traces which it leaves 
upon the later order that replaces it. War, com- 
merce, cultivation, — the effect and cause of in- 
creasing population, — gradually disperse the mem- 
bers of the sibsceaft or cognation, and a time arrives 
when neighbours are no longer kinsmen. At this 
point the old organization ceases to be effective, 
and a new one becomes necessary, unless the an- 
cient principle is to be entirely abandoned. But 
principles are not easily abandoned in early stages 
of society ; a young nation finds it easier to adopt 
artificial arrangements founded upon the ancient 
form : nor is it necessary that the later should have 
totally superseded its predecessor ; it is enough 
that when the earlier ceases to fulfil its object, the 
latter should be directed to supply its obvious de- 
ficiency, and be united with it, as circumstances 
best permit. 

Throughout the earliest legislation of the Teu- 
tonic nations, and especially in our own, we find 
arrangements, based up9n two distinct principles, 
in active operation. The responsibihty of the fa- 
mily lies ever in the background, the ultimate 
resort of the state against the individual, of the in- 
dividual against the state. But we also find email 

238 THB SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

bodies of men existing as corporations, founded 
npoQ number and neighbourhood, and thus making 
up the public units in the state itself. From the 
first, we find the inhabitants of the Mark classed 
in tens and hundreds (technically in England, Ti* 
things and Hundreds), each probably comprising 
respectively a corresponding number of members, 
together with the necessary officers, viz. a tithing* 
man for each tithing, and a hundred-man for the 
hundred, thus making one hundred and eleven men, 
or Heads of houses in the territorial hundred ^* Hie 
Prankish law names the officers thus alluded to : 
in it the tithing-man is Decanus, the hundred-man 
Centenarius*. The Anglosaxon law does not indeed 
mention its divisions by these names till a compara* 
tively late period, when their significations had be- 
come in some respects altered ; but it seems probable 
that it does imply them under the term Gregyldan, 
fellows y brothers of the gyld. In a case of aggravated 
crime it is provided that the ofifender's relatives shall 
pay a third part of the fine, his gegyldan a third 
part, and if he cannot pay the remainder himself, he 
is to become an outlaw, i. e. forfeit his land and flee, 
perhaps formally abjure the country*. Now it is 

' There is some difficultr in deciding whether the hetd of the tithing 
wms included in the ten, or heside it. I have proceeded upon the sup- 
position that he was not included, consequently that there were really 
eleven men in the tithing. The leading authority (Jud. CIt. Lond. 
^«elst. V. § a Thorpe, i. 230), is totally and irrecondleably eontift- 
dictory on the point. 

* The Decani appear to be the same as the Decimates homines of 
iE«elred's law. Thorj^e, i. 338. 
» LI. ^f. § 27. 


perfectly clear that a law expressed ia such g:eneral 
terms as these, cannot be directed to a particular 
and exceptional condition ; that it does not apply 
to the accidental existence of gegyldan, but on the 
contrary assumes every man to have such : we 
cannot therefore construe it of voluntary associa- 
tions formed for religious, social or funereal ob- 
jects ', and for the purposes of this law we must 
look upou gegylda as a general name borne by 
every individual in respect of some gyld or asso- 
ciation of which he was taken to be a member. 
The only meanings which the root gt/id enables us 
to attach to the word gegylda are these ; either, 
on* wAo shares with others in paying ; or, one who 
$harea with others in worshiping. If we adopt the 
former rendering, we must suppose that certain con- 
tributions were made by a number of persons to a 
common )iurse, partly for festive purposes, partly 
as a mutual guarantee and club-fund for legal costs, 
for the expenses of reciprocal aid and defence, per- 
haps even for mortuary celebrations and chari- 
table distributions. Another, though perhaps a less 
probable, suggestion is that such gegjidan may 
have been jointly responsible for taxes, or the out- 
fit of armed men who attended in the fyrd or mi- 
litary expedition, on behalf of them all. But this 
we cannot further illustrate, in the absence of all 

' Such voliiutary assoriatioQs wore not uuusuaJ. Several lieeiia of 
..^reement of iiich clubs are given iu im Appendix to thia Chapter. 
Tbere seem to have been umihir clubs ainoDg tie lluDgariaDi : they 
were called " Knleniler-Bnidcrscliaften," frotn usually meeting on tlie 
Bret lisy of every month. Fesrier, Gesch. tier I'ugern, i. 725. 

240 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. . [book i. 

record of the financial system of the early Teutonic 
monarchs, even those of Charlemagne himself, which 
would have been invaluable guides to us through 
the intricacies of that dark subject of enquiry. The 
second meaning given to gegylda would rest upon 
the assumption of some private and as it were hero- 
worship, common to the gyld-brothers, — a fact fa- 
miliar enough to us in the Athenian ^uXai and 
Roman gentes ; but the existence of any such foun- 
dation for the gyld among the Anglosaxons is ex- 
tremely improbable, when we consider the small 
numbers that appear to have constituted the as- 
sociation, and that no trace of any such worship 
remains in our heathen mythology ^ I therefore 
prefer the first rendering of the word, and look upon 
gegyldan as representing those who mutuaUy pay 
for one another ; that is, under a system of pecu- 
niary mulcts, those who are mutually responsible 
before the law, — the associates in the tithing and 
the hundred. 

It is well known that in the later Anglosaxon 
law, and even to this day, the tithing and hundred 
appear as local and territorial, not as numerical 
divisions : we hear of tithings where there are more, 
and tithings where there are fewer people ; we are 
told of the spoor of cattle being followed into one 
hundred, or out of another^. I do not deny that 
in process of time these divisions had become ter- 

' The later guilds of tndes, dedicated to particular Saints, are quite 
a different thing ; in form these bear a most striking resemblance to 
the <f>v\cu. 

< LI. Eadg. Hand. § 6. Thorpe, i. 260. 


ritorial ; but this does not of necessity invalidate the 
doctrine that originally the numbers were calculated 
according to the heads of families, or that the ex- 
tent of territory, and not the taxable, military or cor- 
porate units, formed at first the varying quantity- 
Had it been otherwise we should naturtilly have 
found a much greater equality in the size of the 
territorial hundreds throughout at least each Saxon 
kingdom ; nor in all probability would the num- 
bers of the hundreds in respective counties differ so 
widely, — a difference intelligible only if we assume 
population, and not space, to have been the basis of 
the original calculation. Moreover to a very late 
period, in one part of Englaud. the abstract word 
TeoBung was replaced by the more concrete Ten- 
mantale (tyn-manna-tael)' to which it is impossible 
to give any meaning but the simple one the words 
express, viz. the tale or count of ten men. Again, 
as late as the tenth century, in a part of England 
where men, and not acres, became necessarily the 
subjects of calculation, viz. in the city of London", 
we find the citizens distributing themselves into 
Fri6gylds or associations for the maintenance of the 
peace, each consisting of ten men ; while ten such 

' LL Ed. Conf. XI. 

• I do not for a moment imagine that this waj on entirely new or- 
gauixstion. The document which contains the record seems to be the 
text of ■ lolenm undertaking, almost a treaty of alliance, between the 
City and king jEiSelstan, for the better maintenance of the public peace. 
It U perhaps worth attention that the Tya-manna-tie] was a denomimi- 
tioii peculiar to another lar^ clty^York : but the same authority from 
which we leom this fact, identifies the institution with that in 
use throughout the laud. LI. Ed. Conf. xx. 

VOL. I. R 

242 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

gylds were gathered into a Hundred. The remark* 
able document known as " Judicia Civitatis Londi- 
nensis " gives the following detailed account of the 
whole proceeding : 

'' This is the ordinance which the bishops and 
the reeves belonging to London have ordained, and 
confirmed with pledges, among our friVgylds, as 
well eorlish as ceorlish, in addition to the dooms 
which were fixed at Greatley, at Exeter, and at 

'' Resolved : That we count every ten men to- 
gether, and the chief one to direct the nine in each 
of those duties which we have all ordained, and 
afterwards the hyndens of them together, and one 
hvnden-man who shall admonish the ten for our 
common benefit ; and let these eleven hold the 
money of the hynden, and decide what they shall 
disburse, when aught is to pay, and what they shaU 
receive, should money accrue to us at our common 

'' That we gather to us once in everv month, if 
we can and have leisure, the hvnden-men and those 
who direct the tithings, as well with butt -filling, or 
as else may please us, and know what of our agree- 
ment has been executed. And let these twelve men* 
have their refection tosrether, and feed themselves 
as they themselves think right, and deal the remains 
of the meat for love of God'." 

* J&5elst, V. 3, § I. Thoriw. i. 23i\ 

' The MS. reads twelve, 3d:« but it seems almosi certmin that we 
ought to underftmnd eleren. that is one man for each tithing and one for 
the hundred or h>-nden. * £Selst. r. S. ^ ] . Thoqw, i. 236. 



Now as this valuable record mentions also terri- 
torial tithings, containing ditFerent amounts of po- 
pulation', it seems to me to furnish important con- 
firmation of the conclusion that the gegyldan of Ini 
and jElfred, the members of the London tithings 
or fri^gylds of ten, and the York tenmantale, are 
in truth identical. And it is further in favour of 
this view that the citizens called the members of 
such gildships, gegyldan*: — 

"And we have also ordained, respecting every 
man who has given his pledge in our gyldships, 
that, should he die, each gyld-brother (gegylda) 
shall give a gesufel-loaf for his soul, and sing a 
fifty (psalms), or cause the same to be sung within 
XXX days." 

Upon a review of the preceding passages it may 
be inferred that the hynden consisted of ten tithings, 
and consequently answered to what we more com- 
monly call a hundred ; it may perhaps be suggested 
that, if any distinction existed between these two 
terms, the hynden represented the numerical, the 
hundred the territorial division. But their origi- 
nal identity may he argued from an important pas- 
sage in the law of Ini. He ordains'' : " He that is 

' " Sw4 of iarc teoSiing Sir mare (ah Big." Thorpe, i. 332. 

' "And ne cwiEdon eat be ielcum 'Bfini Tnanun *e on tinim gegyld- 
■c^nim bU wed geiieald htcfti, gif lum foi^ii'S gcbyrige, Vret eIc gegyldft 
gesjlle sDue geiufelne ht&f for 'Gtere eawle, and geiinge an fiAig, oVffe 
begit« geningen buman ixz nibtsn." £SelM. v. 8. ^ 6. Thorpe, i. 236. 

* " Se6e bin werf^hSe betogen, and he onsiicaii wille imt alegei mid 
ifie. Sonne uxol be6D on 'Biere hyndenne an cj-ning&e be xxx bida, 
ami be geaificund men »wa be ceorlineum, swi hwieBer sw& bit ty." 
Ini. 454. Thorpt, i. 136. Upon this paisage the Ute Mr. Price hai! the 
fiiUowing note, which it interealing, though I cnniiot agree with hit 
R 2 


charged with mortal feud, and is willing to deny the 
slaying on oath ; then shall there be in the hynden 
one king's oath of thirty bides, as well for a noble 
as a churl, be it whichever it be." 

Now hynden can only mean one of two things, 
viz. a collection of ten or a collection of a hundred, 
according as we render the word hund. Admitting 
that at some very early period bund did mean ten, 
we yet never find it with any such signification in 
any book or MS., or indeed at all except in the nu- 
merals bundseofontig, hundeatatig, hundnigontig, 
bundtwelftig, where its force is anything but clear, 
when we compare those words with fiflig, sixtig, 
twentig, etc. On the other hand the adjective 
hynde does clearly denote something which has 
the quaUty of a hundred ; thus a twyhynde or twelf- 
hynde man is he whose life is worth respectively two 
or twelve hundred shillings. Again it is clear that 
the Judicia Civitatis Londinensis intends by hyodeD 
a collection of a hundred, and not of ten, men, 
inasmuch as it distiugiiishes this from the titliings. 

rondiuioD : " ll tuts been alnAdf c/baaved thu the faylidai 
of ten pOToiu. mad. Uke bnidr in the words twyfarude, oxlimdr, t 
fayiMle. iqiptan to harr b««D formrd from hond, at wkkli the oti 
BeuuB^ ni tm. Hie htuden tfaeictbtT ■rill cont j po uJ to the l 
td Ac Ciril Laa {■ quia Turba ietxns dinrntuT.' Lc^. PntX. 4. f 
bMtXllic T^mrheaeOte Fiench Coatuina: -C<iMune n .faw Tf 
pw dnu to wihu ct ckacDB tfkdki par dn liimiii ' LoMci. I 
liL&e. 13." B^theMWTijiiiriii anted wfll cmmK ^p«nJ 
te bM «rihe kn&B raly bcBg . <dlnn» of to a 


And further, it must be admitted.upon the internal 
evidence of the law itself, that a hundred and not a 
tithing is referred to, since so small a court as that 
of the ten men could not possibly have had cogni- 
zance of such a plea as manslaughter, or been com- 
petent to demand a king's oath of thirty hides. 
But as such a plea might well be brought before 
the hundred-court, it is probable that such was 
meant. Lastly it was the custom for the hundred- 
court to be holden monthly, and we observe the 
same provision with the London hynden ; at which 
it is very probable that legal matters were trans- 
acted, as well as accounts investigated; for it is 
expressly declared that their meeting is to ascer- 
tain how the undertakings in the record have been 
executed ; that is, how the peace has been kept. I 
therefore conclude that the Hynden and the Hun- 
dred are in fact and were at first identical ; with 
the hypothetical reservation, that at a later period 
the one word represented a numerical, the other a 
territorial division, when these two had ceased to 
coincide : in corroboration of which view it may be 
observed that the word Hynden does not occur in 
the laws later than the time of jE^elstdn, nor Hun- 
dred earlier than that of Eadgar. 

It is true that no division founded upon numbers 
can long continue to coincide with the first cor- 
responding territorial allocation, however closely 
they may have been at first adjusted. In spite of 
every attempt to regulate it, population varies in- 
cessantly ; but the tendency of land-divisions is to 






remain stationary for ages ' ; a holy horror prevents 
the alteration of" that which has been sanctified in 
men's minds by long continuance, was perha] 
more deeply sanctitied at the first by religious cei 
monies. The rights of property universally demai 
the jealous guardianship of boundaries. Moreover 
the first tithings, or at all events the first hundreds, 
must have had elbowroom enough within the Mark 
to allow for a considerable elasticity of population 
without the necessity of disturbing the ancient 
boundary ; and thus we can readily understand two 
very distinct things to have grown up together, 
out of one origin, namely a constantly increasing 
number of gylds, yet a nearly or entirely stationary 
tale of territorial tithings and hundreds. I cannot 
but think that, under happier circumstances, 
view might lead us to conclusions of the utmi 
importance with respect to the history of our ra( 
that if it were possible for us now to ascertain the 
original number of hundreds in any county of which 
Beda in the eighth century gives us the population, 
and also the population at the period of the origin) 
division, we should find the two data in exact 
cordance, and thus obtain a clue to the movemi 
of the population itself down to Beda's time. Loi 
ing to the permanent character of land-divisioni 

> It is very remarkable bon many modem ))Brishes may he perambu- 
lated with no other direction than the boundaries found in the Code» 
Diplomaticus. To this very day the httle hiUi, brooka, even neadon-a 
and small farms, bear the nniues they bore befure the time of .£lfired, 
and the Mark may he trneed irith certainty upon the local ii 
'if tlie labourer on the nio<Ierii eitate. 

1 the 

' -■ 




and assuming that our present Hundreds nearly 
represent the original in number and extent, we 
might conclude that, if in the year 400 Kent was 
first divided, Thanet then contained only one hun- 
dred heads of houses, or hydes, upon three thou- 
sand acres of cultivated land, while in the time of 
Beda, three centuries later, it comprised six hundred 
families or liides upon eighteen thousand acres. 

It is a common saying that we owe the insti- 
tution of shire, tithing and hundred divisions to 
j£lfred. Stated in so broad a manner as this, I am 
compelled to deny the assertion. No one can con- 
template the life and acts of that great prince and 
accomplished man without being filled with admi- 
ration and respect for his personal energy, hia 
moral and enlightened policy, and the sound legis- 
lative as well as administrative principles on which 
he acted. But we must nevertlieless not in the 
nineteenth century allow ourselves to be blinded 
by the passions and prejudices which ruled in the 
twelfth. The people, oppressed by foreign power, 
no doubt, long looked hack with an affectionate 
regret to the memory of " England's Darling ; " he 
was the hero of a suffering nation ; his activity 
and fortune had once cleared the land of Norman 
tyranny ; his arm had smitten the forefathers of 
those whose iron yoke now weighed on England : 
he was the reputed author of those laws, which, 
under the amended and extended form enacted by 
the Confessor, were now claimed by the English 
people from their foreign kings -. he was, in a word, 
the representative, and as it were very incarnation. 



of English nationalitj'. We may smile at, but must 
yet respect, the feehng which made him also the 
representative of every good thing, which connected 
every institution or custom that his suffering coun- 
trymen regretted, with his time-hallowed name. It 
is unnecessary to detail the many ways in which 
this traditional character of ^Eifred continually re- 
appears ; the object of these remarks is merely to 
point out that the attribution to him of the system 
of tithingB, hundreds and the like, is one of many 
groundless assertions connected with his name. 
Not one word in corroboration of it is to be found 
in Asser or any otlier contemporaneous authority ; 
and there is abundant evidence that the system 
existed long before he was born, not only in other 
German lands, but even among ourselves. Still I 
am unwilling to incur the responsibility of decla- 
ring the tradition absolutely without foundation : 
on the contrary it seems probable that .<Elfred may 
have found it necessary, after the dreadful confu- 
sion and devastation of the Danish wars, to make a 
new muster or regulation of the tithings, nay even 
to cause, in some districts, a new territorial division 
to be estabhshed upon the old principle ; and this 
18 the more credible, since there is reason to believe 
that the same causes had rendered a new definition 
of boundaries generally necessary even in the case 
of private estates : the strongest argument against 
this lies however in the total silence of all contem- 
porary writers. A less tenable supposition is, that 
.Alfred introduced such divisions for the first time 
into the countries which he united with Wessex ; as 



it is impossible to conceive any Anglosaxon state 
to have existed eatirely without them. 

The form and nature of the institution, long 
known in the English law under the name of Frank- 
pledge', may be compendiously described in the 
words of the laws called Edward the Confessor's'. 
According to that document, — 

"Another peace, the greatest of all, there is, 
whereby all are maintained in firmer state, to wit 
in the establishment of a guarantee, which the En- 

' An euly confiiiion gave rise to the reading of Freoborb, libtrum 
plrpiam, free pleiige, fnmk-pleilge, for FriSborh, the pledge gr guB^ 
twitee ot peace, pads plrifium. The liistinttion in easentjal to the coni- 
preheonon of this institution. 

* Thia a given here onlj as the most detailed account : the principle 
VM M old ai the Anglosaxon monarchy itself, or older. Tbe law of 
E&dgar thus cipreases it : " Lei every man so onler, that he have ■ 
surety, and let the surety (borh) bring and huld him to every right; 
Biul if any one then offend and escape, let the surety bear nhat he 
ought to bear. But if it be a thief, and the surety can get hold of bim 
wilhin tnclve months, let him surrender the thief to justice, and let 
wfakt he before paid be restored to him." Eiidg. ii, ^ 6. Thorpe, i. 268. 

" This then is my will, that every man he in surety, both within the 
towns and without the towns." E^dg. ii. supp. ^ 3. Thorpe, i. 274. 

" Let every freeman have a true borh, who may present him to every 
right, should he be accused." -ESclred, i. § I. Thorpe, i. 2,^. 

" If he flee from the ordeal, let the borh pay for him according to 
his WW." -ESeb. iu. % 6. Thorpe, i. 296. 

" And nc will that every freeman be brought into a hundred and into 
ft tithii^, who desires to be entitled to Idd or tofr, in case any one 
should slay him aAer he have reached the age of xu years : or let him 
BOt otherwise be entitled to any free rights, he he householder, be he 
follower. Anil let every one be brought into a hundred and a surety, 
and let tbe surety hold and lead him to every plea." Cnut, ii. J 20. 
Thorpe, i. 386. 

The stranger or fricodless man, who had no borh, i.e. could not 
find bail, must he committed, at the first charge ; and instead of clear- 
iug liimscif by the oaths of his friends, must nin the risk and cndnre 
the pain of the otdeal. Cnul, ii. ^ :15. Thori*, i. 396. 

250 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

glish call Fri^borgas, with the exception of the men 
of York, who call it Tenmannetale, that is, the 
number of ten men. And it consists in this, that 
in all the vills throughout the kingdom, aU men 
are bound to be in a guarantee by tens, so that if 
one of the ten men offend, the other nine may hold 
him to right. But if he should flee, and they allege 
that they could not have him to right, then should 
be given them by the king's justice a space of at 
least thirty days and one : and if they could find 
him they might bring him to justice. But for him- 
self, let him out of his own restore the damage he 
had done, or if the offence be so grave let justice 
be done upon his body. But if within the aforesaid 
term he could not be found, since in every fri%borfa 
there was one headman whom they called friVborg- 
heved, then this headman should take two of the 
best men of his fri^borh, and the headman of each 
of the three friSborgs most nearly neighbouring to 
his own, and likewise two of the best in each, if he 
can have them ; and so with the eleven others he 
shall, if he can, clear both himself and his fri^borh 
both of the offence and flight of the aforesaid ma* 
lefactor. Which if he cannot do, he shall restore 
the damage done out of the property of the doer, 
so long as this shall last, and out of his own and 
that of his friSborh : and they shall make amends 
to the justice according as it shall be by law ad- 
judged them. And moreover the oath which they 
could not complete with the rentie, the nine them- 
selves shall make, viz. that they had no part in the 
offence. And if at anv time thev can recover hira. 



they shall bring him to the justice, if they can, or 
teli the justice where he is'." 

Thus the object of the gylds or tithings was, 
that each man should be in pledge or surety (bork) 
as well to his fellow-man as to the state tor the 
maintenance of the public peace : that he should 
enjoy protection for life, honour and property him- 
self, and be compelled to respect the life, honour 
and property of others: that he should have a fixed 
and settled dwelling where he could be found when 
required, where the public dues could be levied, 
and the public services demanded of him ; lastly 
that, if guilty of actions that compromised the 
public weal or trenched upon the rights and well- 
being of others, there might be persons especially 
appointed to bring him to justice ; and if injured 
by others, supporters to pursue his claim and exact 
compensation for his wrong. All these points seem 
to have been very well secured by the establish- 
ment of the Tithings, to whom the community 
looked as responsible for the conduct of every in- 
dividual comprised within them ; and coupled with 
the family obligations which still remained in force 
in particular cases, they amply answered the pur- 
pose of a mutual guarantee between all classes of 
men. The system possessed the advantage of being 
necessarily regulated by neighbourhood, and it was 
free from some disadvantages which might have 
attended an exclusive reliance upon kinsmauship : 

' " De friSborgis. et quoi! soli Eboracensca vwnnt friSborcb Ten- 
manoeUle. i. e. Kermo decern homiuum," etc. LI. Edn. Conf. ix. 
Thorpe, i 450. 


[book l 

the fri^borgas not having the bond of blood be- 
tween them, which might have induced an improper 
partiality in favour of one of their members ; and 
as they stood under responsibility for every act of 
a gjidsman, being interested in preventing an un- 
due interference on the part of his family. We thus 
see that the gyldsmeo were not only bound to pre- 
sent their fellows before the court of the freemen 
when specially summoned thereto, but that they 
found their own advantage in exercising a kind of 
police-surveillance over them all : if a crime were 
committed, the gyld were to hold the criminal to his 
answer ; to clear him, if they could conscientiously 
do so, by making oath in his favour ; to aid in pay- 
ing his fine if found guilty ; and if by flying from 
justice he admitted his crime, they were to purge 
themselves on oath from all guilty knowledge of the 
act, and all participation in his flight ; failing which, 
they were themselves to suffer mulct in proportion 
to his ofl'ence. On the other hand they were to 
receive at least a portion of the compensation for 
his death, or of such other sums as passed from 
hand to hand during the progress of an Anglosaxon 
suit. Being his neighbours, the visnetum, vicinage 
or venue, they were his natural compurgators or 
witnesses, and consequently, being examined on 
oath, in some sense the yuroti or jurors upon whose 
verdict his weal or woe depended. And thus the 
importance of character, so frequently appealed to 
even in our modern jorisprudeoce, was carried to 
the highest extent. 

We may reasonably conclude that the close i_ 

ide that the close I^H 



tercourse thus created, was improved to private 
and social purposes, and that these gylds, like the 
much larger associations of the same name in after 
times, knew how to combine pleasure with business. 
The citizens of London hint at a monthly sympo- 
sium or treat, with buU-jiUmg, when the tithing- 
men met together to settle the atfairs of their re- 
spective hundreds, — a trait not yet extinct in the 
civic, or indeed the national, character. There can 
also he httle doubt that the gylds even formed 
small courts of arbitration, as well as police, for the 
settlement of such trifling disputes between mem- 
bers of the same gyld, as were not worthy of being 
reserved for the interference of a superior tribunal ' ; 
and it is also probable that the members consi- 
dered themselves bound to aid in the festivities or 
do honour to the obsequies of any individual gyld- 
brother : the London gyldsmen were to distribute 
alms, and cause religious services to be performed 
at the decease of a fellow ; and it is obvious that 
this shariag in a religious obhgation, the benefits of 
which were to extend even into another life, must 

' The law of Eadn-eard the CoDfeuor shows this clesrly : " Cum 
SQtetn Tiderunt quod sliqui stulti libcnter forisfnriebaBt erga Ticinoa 
•uoi, lapieDtiorcg coepcniat consilium inter se, quomoilo cos reprime- 
rent, et tic impoguenint iustiriarios super quoaque decern friSborgoa, 
qaos decBUOB pouumus dicere, Anglice autem tjeulte-beTed vocati 
•imt, hoc est cajiut decern. Isti autem intei vilhu, inter viciuoa tracta- 
bant caUHU, et Kciuiilum quod foriafscturae erant, emendstiaDes et 
ordinatioiiea faciebant, videhcct de puicuis. de prati^, de meaaibus, de 
certatiaaibui inter vicinoi, et de multia huiuimodi quae irequeuter 
iiwurgunt." >j xxviti. How clearly has the jurisdiclioa of tbe "ntbing 
liere tupeneded that of the ancient Mark '. 



have impressed somewhat of a solemn and sacred 
character upon the whole institution'. 

Much of what has been observed respecting the 
tithing, apphes also to the hundred. This, it has 
been seen, was originally a collection often tithings, 
and was presided over by a hundredes ealdor', or 
hundred-man, who exercised a jurisdiction over his 
circuit and its inhabitants. From the concurrent 
practice of later periods we may conclude that his 
court was holden monthly for the hearing of such 
civil and lighter criminal causes as could not be 
settled in the tithing, or interested more tithings 
than one''. It is not probable that the higher 
criminal causes could at any period be pursued 
in the hundred^, but that they were necessarily 
reserved for the consideration of the folcmdt or 

' In what msy be colled the Act of Coastitution of Orcy'« OyU il 
AbbotBbury, lhi» feftture i» vety prominent. I li«ve therefore appenkd 
the instrumeut in an Appendix to thii chsjiter, nllhough as d vuluntatj 
gjld it diRera in some reaptet from those hcrctofcn* under considrf- 
ation. The trade-guilda of the Middle Agei paid aIbd eipeeial Ukduod 
to the religious commuuioa of their members. 

' The word Borseholder renders it probable that the capitals, tvn- 
iDBtma heufod, yldeita, etc. bore among the Saxons the name of BoigM- 
ealdor, princept phgii, 

' Thia again we lenm from the law attributed to Eadweard theCoD- 
feasor. "Cum autem muares causae insui^hant (that ii g;TeBter tbaa 
those which concerned the tithing), referebant eaa ad alios maiores iu>- 
ticiarios. qiios sapienten siipradied super eos constitueraut, seiUcet lupn 
decern decaiios, quos possumus vocare centenaries, quia super centum 
friSborgos iudicabant." § xxix. 

' 1 lia<l no instance of a hundredes man having the btut^fann or IM 
glaitii : but in the time of HuUgar, he seemi to have had jiower to adni- 
nister the single and liireefo Id ordeal ; whether ouly in the ease of icrti 
does not appear. Inat. Iliindr. Thorpe, i. 260. 


shire-court, which met three times in the year. In 
the later legislation, trial of capital offences was re- 
served for the scyremot, and the words of Tacitus' 
seem to imply that this was the case in his tirae 
also: perhaps even such causes as involved the 
penalties of outlawry may have been beyond the ju- 
risdiction of the hundred, It is however less as a 
court of justice than as part of a system for the main- 
tenance of peace, that we are to contemplate the 
hundred. It may be securely affirmed that where 
the tithing alone could not be made responHible, or 
more tithings than one were involved in a simitar 
difficulty as to crimes committed by their members, 
resort was had to the responsibility of the collective 
hundred, — a principle which, it is well-known, sub- I 
sists even to this day. 

At a comparatively late period, we occasionally 
find a consolidation of hundreds into one body, for 
judicial purposes, presided over by the ealdorman 
of the shire, or his gerefa, and forming a subsidiary 
court to the shiremoot : and after immunities, or 
private jurisdictions, had become rapidly extended, 
it is certain that such consolidations were not un- 
usual, in the hands of great civil or ecclesiastical 
authorities, and that they, by means of their officers 
or gerefan, held plea in several hundreds at once; 
they thus substituted their own power for that of 
the ealdorman or the sheriff", in the last instance, 
throughout the district comprehended by their im- 
munity ; either replacing the old hundred-men by 

' " Licet ujiiid (^Dcilitim accuaare quoque et diiwrimea capitis inten- 
Uere.- Germ, %u. 




ger^t'an or bailiffs, or suffering the hundreds to be 
still governed and adQiinistered in the way common 
to all such divisions, by the elective officer'. 

It stands to reason that the system above de- 
scribed applied only to the really free. It was the 
form of the original compact between the inde- 
pendent members of an independent community. 
But as by the side of the free landholders, there 
dwelt also unfree men of various ranks, so also 
there existed modifications of the original compact, 
suited to their condition. Those who in a more or 
less stringent degree were dependent, could not be 
members of the tithing, the hundred or the folcradt. 
They stood to right among themselves, in their 
lord's court, not in the people's, and in the latter 
they could not appear for themselves. The insti- 
tution therefore which provided that the lord might 
maintain a Comitatus or following, provided also 
that its members should all he in his muud (pro- 
tection) and borh (surety), and that he should make 
answer for them in tlie courts from which they 
were themselves excluded*. 

' Eadweard the Coofessor granted the hiinilred of Humniere in 
Berkshire to Ordrie, abbat of Abingdoa ; " so that no sbt^ritT or moot- 
reeve may hold therein any plea or moot, without the Abbat's own 
command and permission." Cod. Dip. No. 840. He alao gnuited 
the hundred of Godley in Surrey to Wulfwold, Abbat of Chertiey, 
and forbade the sheriff to meddle in the same. Cod. Dip. No. &40, 

' " .\nd let every lord have his household in his own borh. Then if 
any of them should be accused, aod escape, let thclordjisy the man's wn* 
to the king. And if any accuse the lord that the escape was by his coun- 
sel, let him clear himself with five thnnea, being himself the aixth. If 
the purgation fail him, let biro forfeit hia wrr to the king ; and let the 
man be au oullaw." MMr. i. 5 1. Thorpe, i. 292. "And let every 




It is difficult to decide whether tlie lords or no- 
bles were at first comprised within the popular cor- 
porations ; it appears most probable that they were 
not ; that they were sufficient to tlieir own defence, 
and, even from the earliest historical periods, in 
possession of that immuniiij which released their 
lands from the jurisdiction of the popular tribunals. 
In respect therefore to the gylds, they may be sup- 
posed to have held an independent, though not 
necessarily hostile, position, regulated indeed by the 
public law : and if they stood to right with their 
men, in the folcmot, it was the collective power 
and dignity of the state with which they had to 
deal, and not the smaller associations, founded 
upon necessities of which they were not conscious. 
Their dependents were under their guarantee and 
surety, as the members of every man's household, 
his wife, children and serfs, were under his: for 
them he was responsible to the community at large ; 
but he owed no suit or service to others, and if he 
persisted in upholding wrong, I fear the only cor- 
rective was to be found in the inalienable ius belli, 
which resumes its power instantly upon the viola- 

lord have his household in his own bori, oad if any one accuse his 
man of any thing, let the lord answer for him within the hundruti, 
wherein he ii cited, as just taiv in. And if he escape," etc. Cnut, ii. 
J 31. Thorpe, i. 394, 396. " Archiepiwopi, cpiacopi, comitcs, barones 
et milites suos, et proprios serricntes bum. scilicet doptferoH, pincemas, 
camerarioB, cocos, pistores, «ub suo &i'Sborgo habebant, et ipsi suos 
nrmigeniB et ahos scrvientes suos sub aiio fril^borga ; quod ai ipsi foris- 
facerent, et clamor Ticinorum iojurgeret de oia, ipai haherent eos ad 
rectum in curia aiia, >i haberent sacham et socam, lol et theam, et lu- 
fangene Ihef." Edw. Conf. xxi. Thorpe, i. 461. 

VOL. 1. S 

tioD of that tacit uoderstaDding among men, that 
the well-being of society depends upon a regulated 
mutual forbearance. Those were not ages in which 
acts of self-defence or righteous retribution could 
be misnamed rerolutions. But all these remarks 
are intended to apply only to a state of society in 
which the nobles were few and independent, the 
people strong and united ; where the people were 
in truth the aristocracy ', and the nobles only their 
chiefs. The holder of an immunity (having sacu 
and socn) in later times, under a consolidated 
royalty representing the national will, and in a 
state from which Che element of the people had 
nearly vanished, through the almost total vanish- 
ing of small independent freeholds, was necessarily 
placed in a very different position. 

It DOW remains only to bestow a few words upon 
the manner iu which the original obligations of the 
family bond were gradually brought to bear upon 
the artificial organization. 

Upon a careful consideration of the latter it ap- 
pears that its principal object was gained when 
either offences were prevented, or the offender pre- 
sented to justice : the consequences of crime, in all 
but a few excepted cases, fell not upon the gegyldan 

' The frwman it a member of an BristocrBcv in respecl of all the 
unfrec, whether these be temporarily bo, as his chililren and ^esU. or 
penoanently »o, as his serfs. To be in the imkinaiui, whioli others »rf 
Dot. to have the fi-anehise «hich others ha*e not, to hare the frtrdunl 
of a eity which others liave not, all these uc fonni of ariatodacy,— 
the aristocracy of Greece, Rome and Engknil. The Peers in FlIj^wH 
arc not themselves exclusively an aristocracy ; thej' are the born Icadtn 
of one, whirh consists now of ten-pounil householders, freeiMn <■ 
tonus, and eoiintv teuunts under the Chuiiilos clause. 


(if they could clear themselves of participation) but 
upon the miegas or relatives'. 

The laws of ^«elberht, WihtrEed and HloShere 
know nothing of gegyldan : with them the m.-egas 
are still wholly responsible, and even their inter- 
vention is noticed in three cases only : jE^elberht 
provided that in the event of a manslayer flying 
the country, the family should pay half the wergyld 
of the slain'. Again he enacts, that if a married 
woman die without bearing children, the property 
she brought her husband, and that which he settled 
upon her after consummation, shall return to her 
paternal relatives^. According to the legislation of 
Hlo^here, if a man died, leaving a wife and child, 
the mother was to have the custody of the child till 
his tenth year, but the paternal kinsmen were to 
administer his property, under satisfactory pledge 
for due discharge of their duty^. The regulations 

*■ " Anil if any one charge a |*rsoii in Lnly orders with feud (fibSe) 
■nil my that he was a perjwIrBtur or ailviser of humicide, let him clear 
himself with his kinsmen, who muat bear the feud with him, or make 
FompctlBatiDn for It. And if he have no kin, let bim clear biutBelf with 
hia Msodates or fast for the ordeal by bread, and ao fitrc as Gud may 
orduD." £Belr. i\. $ 23, 24. Thorpe, i. 344. Cnuf, i. 5 5, Thorpe, 
i. 362. The assoeintes or grferan here are probably his fellows in or- 
ders. But a monk being released from all family relations could not be 
implicated in the reRponaibdities of the ms-gburh (ibid. § 25} ; " for he 
foriHikea hit Uw of kin (mE^NIage) when he aubtnits to mmuutic law." 
Cout, i. % 5. Thorpe, i. 362. 

* ■' Gif bans of lande gevciteiS, Sa mtegsa bealfne leild forgyldcn." 
iSelb. % 23. Thorpe, i. 8. 

» " Gif heo beam ne gehyrefi, fiederingtnicgas fcoh Sgcu and inor- 
gengyfe." JWelb, ^1. Thorpe, i. 24. 

■' Gif ceorl Bcwyle be libbendum wife and bearne, riht is *fet hit. 

Siet beam, m^der folgige ; and him n 

a his faiiteriagmKgLUD wil- 

e bet^ean geselle, his feoh t6 heoldeune oWa^t he tynwintre sie.' 
HloWi. § 6. Thorpe, 1. 30. 

260 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of Ini allow us to enter still further into the nature 
of the family engagement. He enacted that if a 
stranger came through the wood out of the high- 
way, and attempted to slink through in secret, 
without shouting or blowing his horn, he should be 
taken to be a thief, and might be slain or forced to 
pay according to his presumed crime : and if the 
slayer were then pursued for his wergyld, he might 
make oath that he slew him for a thief, and the lord 
and tlie gegyldan of the dead man should not be 
allowed to make oath to the contrary : but if the 
slayer had at the time concealed the deed, and it 
was only afterwards discovered, a presumption of 
unfair dealing was raised against him, and the kin- 
dred of the dead man were entitled to make oath of 
his innocence ^ Again if a stranger were slain, the 
king was to have two parts of his wergyld, the son 
or relatives of the dead man might claim the third ; 
but if there were no relatives, the king claimed 
half, the count half ^. Besides a provision for a sur- 

' " Gif feorcund man o'5i$e fremde butau wege geond ¥rudu gonge, 
and ne hn'me ne bom blawe, for beof he bi^ to pr6fianne, cSiSe to 
sleanne oSSe to alysanne. Gif mon ^tcs ofslaegenan weres bidde, be 
mot gecy'6'au ^^vt he bine for >e6f of8l6ge, nalles "Saes ofslsegenan g^^il- 
dan ne bis blaford. Gif be hit "Sonne dyme'5, and weoi^'5 ymb lang 
yppe, "Sonne ryme'S be ^am deadan to i^am iiSe, fet hine mdtan hif 
msegas unsc^ldigne ged6n." Ini, § 20, 21 . The collocation of gegyl- 
dan and msegas in this law seems to show clearly that Ini looked upon 
them as the same thing : hence that in the original institution the gyld 
and the family were identical, though afterwards, for convenience' sake 
the number and nature of the gjld were otberBise regulated, when the 
kinsmen bad become more dispersed. 

' " Gif mon aelj^eodigne ofslea, se c}'ning ah twiedne dsl weies, >rid- 
dan dffil sunu o2^ maegas. Gif he f$onne mseglelb ne, healf cvninge, 
healf se gesi«." Ini, § 23. 


viving child, similar to that of HioBhere', the law 
of Ini contains no further regulation with regard 
to the msegas of the free man. Four several chap- 
ters referring to serfs who are guilty of theft, rest 
upon the principle that his kin have renounced the 
aitegburh by suffering him to remain in serfage, 
and together with the obligations of kinsmen have 
relinquished their own right of avenging his injuries 
or making pursuit for his wrongs*. 

The duties of the raregsceatY or kinship are deve- 
loped with considerable detail ia the law of Alfred : 
the moat general regulation is that which acknow- 
ledges the right of a man to have the aid of his kin- 
dred in all those excepted cases where the custom 
and the law still permitted the waging of fieh^e or 
private war-. " After the same fashion, may a man 
fight on behalf of his born kinsman, if any wrong- 
fully attack him ; except indeed against his lord : 
that we permit not^" Other clauses provide that 
where a wrongdoer is taken into custody, and agrees 
peaceably to abide the decision of the law, his re- 
latives shall have due notice*: " If he pledge him- 
self to a lawful act, and belie himself therein, let 

' Ini, 4 38. 

» Ini, 5 24, 2S. 35, 7-1. Thorpe, i. 118, 120, liJ4, UH. 

* " £fter Ksre vlcau nisan mut mnn feoblan mlH hia gcborcDum 
nuegc, gif bine mon on wob onfeohtaS ; butOD wiS his blofonl : Swt 
we ne lyfaS." J.lf. 5 42. Thorpe, i. 'M. 

' '■ Gif he Sonne Bsei weddie Be him riht ay to geltcstanne and &M 
ilcoge, (die mid eadmedum hit wiepD und hU shta bis frcundum to 
g«lieal(laiiiie, and be^ feowertig nibta on earcerne on cjninges tijne; 
Iniwi^ Stcr iwa bi«cop bim ecrirc. and his nucgas bine f^en gif be lelf 
mete ntcbbc -. gif be roign* uiebbi;, oMSe ■Kone mete unhbe. ffdc cy- 
ninges geirfe bine." Mf. § 1. Thorpe, i, UO. Tliere is a siiniUr provi- 
«on in iUf. ^ 3. Thor[ic, i. 14. .Elf. H2. Tborpf, i. 90. 

262 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

him humbly surrender his arms and his goods to 
his friends, to hold for him, and let him remain for 
forty days in prison in a king's tun ; let him there 
suffer as the bishop may direct him ; and let his 
kinsmen feed him, if he have himself no food ; but 
if he have no kinsmen, or no food, let the king's 
reeve feed him." Again if a man is accidentally 
slain while hewing wood with others, his kinsmen 
are to have the tree, and remove it from the land 
within thirty days, otherwise it shall go to the 
owner of the wood^ The most important case of 
all, however, is that of a divided responsibility be- 
tween the kinsmen and the gegyldan, which iElfted 
thus regulates : '' If one that hath no paternal kin- 
dred fi^ht and slav a man, if then he have maternal 
relatives, let them pay a third part of the trfr, his 
gyldbrethren a third (tart, and for a third part l^ 
him dee. If he have no maternal relatives, let his 
g\idbr^thren pay half, and for half let him flee. 
And if any one slay such a man, having no rela- 
tives, let half be p^d to the king, half to the gyld- 
brvthrt'u^'' Ii was also the principle of j£lfred'8 
law, nxxvirnized but not introduced bv him, that 
no man should have the power of alienating from 
his m;vc^<^^an, booklands whose first acquirer had 
entaiUxi them ui>on the family, — a principle which 

< ^^ iV.: tffOKv&s»^ sacw» mn cciraktr aod man oftfea, and 
^^'T ^ ^ ^:&^^^:>r%a;jc^:» '^^<«. C^"^^ ^ ^!<» ««ro Mddan del, 
>«..>.»:; ^: N» cf^Viiau f.Y >cr^ikS4x cc^ d( Aml Gif lie medramuegM 
»^^^S»*.>f«^*p*rK?V^*^rtLf».^.^ Gsf mem sirs ge- 

rfc.-,v «s>* ^>t>:^^ c.: Sf 7&K^» a*c«, ijrtie mon bcmlfiie 
K>*:t»r Nfc:s: ix>c? «tt _«i5r ^ i;:. ^s;. TV«pe, i. TS, SO. 



tends, aa far as human means seem capable nf en- 
suring it, to ensure its permanent maintenance'. 

Tlie reciprocal rights and duties of the miegbiirh 
were similarly understood by Eudweard : he enacted 
that if a malefactor were deserted by his relatives, 
and they refused to make compensation for him, 
he should be reduced to serfage ; but in this case 
his wergyld was to abate from the kindred . And 
jE^elstan distinctly holds the mjegB responsible 
for their kinsman. He says, "If a thief be put 
into prison, let him remain there forty days, and 
then let him be ransomed for 120 shilhngs, and let 
the kindred go surety for him that he shall cease 
from theft for the future. And if after that he 
steal, let them pay for hira with his wergyld, or 
replace him in prison*." But he goes further than 
this, and imposes upon them the duty of finding a 
lord for him, or exposing him to the penalty of 
outlawry : " And we have ordained respecting tliose 
lordless men of whom no law can be got, that the 
kindred be commanded to domicile him to folk- 
right, and find him a lord in the folkmote ; and if 
then they will not or cannot produce him at the 
term, let hira thenceforth be an outlaw, and let 
whoso Cometh at him slay him*;" a provision which 

' jEib. 1 41. Thorpe, i, 88. 

'Eadw. ii. §9. .eCelst. V. cap. 12, $ 2. Thorpe, i. l&l. 242. 

» .fiSdrt. i. 4 1, 6 ; y. Mp. 1, 4 4, csp. 9. Thorpe, i. 198, 202, 229, 

• £fiflit. i. % 2. Thorpe, i. 200. Upon the just principle that "He 
may die without law who reftiseth to hve by law," " Utlngatiu el wey- 
vista capita gerunt lupine [wulvefl-bead] quae ab oionibiis imimiie po- 
terunt ainpiitari : merito enini sine lege iwrire dcbciit, qui secundum 
legem vivcre recusant." Fltt. lib. i. cap. 27, 4 12, etc. 


264 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

obviously canDot apply to free landowners, who 
would have been included in a tithing, and could 
not have been thus compulsorily commended to a 
lord. Where a man is slain as a thief, the relatives 
are to clear him, if they can\ inasmuch as they 
would have a right to pursue the slayer and claim 
the compensation for their kinsman's death. Again 
it is provided that if a lord has so many dependents 
that he cannot personally exercise a due supervision 
over them, he shall appoint efficient reeves or bai- 
liffs in his several manors, to be answerable to him. 
And if need be, the bailiff shall cause twelve rela- 
tives of anv man whom he cannot trust, to enter 
into sureties for him^ 

Sadmund permitted the maegS to avoid the con- 
sequences of their kinsman's act, by refusing to abet 
him in his feud^. I imagine that this law must be 
taken in connection with that of Sadweard^, and 
that it implies a total desertion of the criminal by 
his kindred, with all its consequences, viz. loss of 
liberty to him, and of his wergyld to them. The 
troubled time of -^^elred, '*the ill-advised," sup- 
plies another attempt to secure peace by holding the 
relatives strictly and personally responsible : in his 
law we find it enacted, *' If breach of the peace be 

» ^«elst. i. § 11. Thorpe, i. 204. 

' " Ut omnis homo teneat homines suos in fideiuBsione sua oontn 
omne furtum. Si tunc sit aliquis qui tot homines habeat quod non suf- 
ficiat omnes custodire, praeponat sibi singulis villis praepositum unom, 
qui credibilis sit ei, (>t qui concredat hominibus. £t si praepositus ali- 
cui eorum hominum concredere non audeat, inveniat xii plegios cogna- 
tionis suae qui ei stent in fideiussione." .ESelst. ii. § 7. Thorpe, i. 217. 

• Eidm. ii. §1. < Eadw. ii. § !). 


comraitted withiu a town, let the inhabitants of the 
town go in person, and take the murderers, aUve or 
dead, or their nearest of kin, head for head. If 
they will not, let the ealdorraan go ; if he will not, 
let the king go; if he will not, let the whole dis- 
trict be in a state of war'." Though this perhaps is 
less a settled rule of law than the convulsive effort 
of an authority striving in vain to maintain itself 
amid civil discords and the horrors of foreign in- 
vasion, it still consecrates the old principle, and 
returns to the true basis on which Anglosaxon 
society was founded, namely treaties of peace and 
mutual guarantee between the several parlies that 
made up the State. 

Such were the means by which the interaal peace 
of the land was attempted to be secured, and it is 
evident that better could hardly have been devised 
in a ."^tate of society where population was not very 
widely dispersed, and where property hardly ex- 
isted, save in land, and almost equally unmanage- 
able cattle. The summary jurisdiction of our police 
magistrates, our recognizances and bail and bind- 
ing over to keep the peace, are developemenls ren- 
dered necessary by our altered circumstances ; but 
these are nevertheless institutions of the same na- 
ture as those on which our forefathers relied. The 
establishment of our County-courts, in which jus- 
tice goes forth from man to man, and without ori- 
ginal writ from the Crown, is another step toward 
the ancient principle of our jurisprudence, m the 
old Hundred. 

> *Belr. ii. % fi. Tlmrpc, 

266 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

A farther inquiry now arises, as to the basis upon 
which all calculations as to satisfaction between 
man and man were founded ; in other words to the 
system of Wergylds and its various corollaries: 
this will form the subject of a separate chapter. 



Tub right of private warfare, technically called fseh'Se 
or feud*, waa one which every Teutonic freeman 
considered inalienable ; and which, coupled with 
the obligations of family, was directly derived from 
his original position as a freeman^ : it was the pri- 
vilege which he possessed before he consented to 
enter into any political bond, the common term 
upon which all freemen could meet in an equal 
form of polity. It was an immediate corollary from 
that primteval law of nature, that each man may 
provide for his own defence, and use his own ener- 
gies to secure his own well-being, and the quiet 
possession of his life, his liberty and the fruits of 
his labour. History and tradition both assure us 
that it did exist among the tribes of the North ; 
and it is reasonable to suppose that it must have 
done so, especially in any case where wc can con- 
ceive separate families and households to have main- 
tained at all an independent position toward one 

' FshSe it etymologic&lly deriTctl from fa, a fot '. it is the Btat« or 
condition of being fa with ftuy one. " Gif hiT& ofer feet atalige ly he 
fs vnJ Sone cyning and eslle his freond." " If after that, any one iteal, 
be he foe (at feud) with the king, and all that love him." 

' Toiit. Germ. sxli. 

268 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

another. Where no imperium yet exists, society it- 
self possesses only a ius belli against its own seve- 
ral members ; and if neighbours will not be neigh- 
bourly, they must be coerced into peace (the great 
and first need of all society and the condition of its 
existence) by alliance of the many against the few, 
of the orderly and peaceful against the violent and 
lawless. This right of feud then lies at the root 
of all Teutonic legislation ; and in the Anglosaxon 
law especially it continues to be recognized long 
after an imperial power has been constituted, and 
the general conservancy of the peace has been com- 
mitted to a central authority. It admits as its most 
general term, that each freeman is at liberty to de- 
fend himself, his family and his friends ; to avenge 
all wrongs done to them, as to himself shall seem 
good ; to sink, burn, kill and destroy, as amply as 
a royal commission now authorizes the same in a 
professional class, the recognized executors of the 
national will in that behalf. Now it is obvious 
that such a power, exercised in its full extent, must 
render the formation of an orderly society difficult, 
if not impossible. The first problem then is to de- 
vise means by which private vengeance may be 
regulated, private wrong atoned, the necessity of 
each man's doing himself right avoided, and the 
general state of peace and security provided for. 
For setting aside the loss to the whole community 
which may arise from private feud, the moral sense 
of men may be shocked by its results : an indivi- 
dual's own estimate of the satisfaction necessary 
to atone for the injury done to him, may lead to 

CH. n.] FXBDE. WERGYLll, 2G9 

the commission of a wrong on his part, greater than 
any he hath suffered ; nor can the strict rule of "an 
eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," be applied, 
where the exaction of the penalty depends upon the 
measure of force between appellant and defender. 

In the feeling then of the omnipotence of the 
State, for paramount purposes, over all the several 
individuals whose proximity to one another neces- 
sarily caused the existence between them of rela- 
tions, amicable or hostile, the Teutonic nations set 
themselves the task of regulating the Right of Feud. 
They could not entirely abrogate it, for it was the 
very basis of that freedom which enabled every man 
to enter into a contract or engagement as to the 
mode of its exercise ; but they defined, and as far 
as possible limited, its sphere and the extent of its 

The natural right of every man to do himself 
justice to the extent of his own estimate', seems 
early to have received so much check as could be 
given by the establishment of a lex talionis, — life 
for life, and limb for limb. The eorl who captured 
the thane Imma, in the seventh century, could say 
to him, "I might justly put thee to death, be- 
cause my kinsmen fell in the battle wherein thou 

' Thii is the wild rigbt of everj outlaw, the law of nsture which re- 
sumes its force when humaD law lins been reliuquialieil. 
" I lost mine eye in laying thv prize aboard. 
And therefore, to revenge it, ihnlt tbou (lie! " 

llvu. VI. Part 2. act iv. av. 1. 
Sueb is the justice of him who has returned to the univerMLl state of 
war. Against such a one. Society, if it mean to be society, muit on ita 
side declare a wb ' 


wert made prisoner' ;" and this principle was re- 
cognized even in the later legislation, after what 
we may call a legal corarantation of this right had 
heen established : the ordinance respecting oaths 
to be administered says, "A twelfhynde man's 
oath stands for six ceorla' oaths ; because if a man 
should avenge a twelfhynde man, he will be fully 
avenged on six ceorls, and his wergyld will be sis 
ceorls' wergylds*." The Teutonic nations generally 
avoided the inconveniences of such a system by 
making the State itself the arbitrator between the 
parties ; that is, by establishing a tariff at which in- 
juries should be rated, and committing to the State 
the duty of compelling the injured person to receive, 
and the wrongdoer to pay, the settled amount. It 
thus engaged to act as a mediator between the 
conflicting interests, with a view to the maintenance 
of the general peace : it assured to the sufferer the 
legal satisfaction for his loss ; it engaged to bis 
adversary that, upon due payment of that legal 
satisfaction, he should he placed under the pubUc 
guarantee and saved from all the consequences of 
feud. For doing this, the State claimed also some 
remuneration ; it imposed a tine, called sometimes 
fredum, from fri?, peace, or hannum from its pro- 
clamation (bannan) ", over and above the compen- 

' Bella, Hist. Eccl. iv. 22. 

' " Tweltliyiidea nwnnei fiS forstcnt svx ceortn bS ; forfiam gif mm 
'Boae twclfhyDdan tnan wrecan soeolde, he bi'N full wreceuon svx c«o^ 
lum, and liis wergild biS <>-x ceorla wergyld." Oaths, § 12. Thorpe, 

i. \m. 

' The technical term is, to set up IHr kinp's proleelion, "cyoinfn 
munde titan." Kfi<l»-. ami GiiP. ^ Kl Endm. ii. ^ 7. Thorpe,!. 17*, 




sation between man and man. And this is obvi- 
ously what Tacitus means when he says', "They are 
bound to take up both the enmities and the friend- 
ships of a father or relative. Nor are their enmi- 
ties implacable ; for even homicide is atoned for by 
a settled number of flocks or cattle, and the whole 
house receives satisfaction, — a useful thing for the 
state, for feuds are dangerous in exact proportion 
to freedom." And again, "A portion of the fine 
goes to the king or state, a part to him whose da- 
mages are to be assessed, or to his relatives." Only 
where the State would not, or could not, as may 
sometimes have happened, undertake this duty, did 
the right of private warfare again resume its course, 
and the family relations recover their pristine im- 
portance. The man who presumes to tight, before 
be has in vain appealed to all the recognized au- 
thorities for redress, is hable, under Alfred's law, 
to severe punishment, except in one important 
case, which involved the maintenance of the family 
itself, to secure which alone the machinery of the 
State exists*. But where the offender refuses to 

250. TbU is the engagemeot of the State that tlie Brbitrcment shall 
be peaceably niaHc, and it at once abrogate! all right of feud, and fear 
of violent revenge. 

' " Siueipere tam inimicitias geu {latris seu proplnqui quam amici- 
tiai necesse est. Nee implBcabiles ilurant ; luitur eoim etiam homiei- 
dium certo anucntonim ac pecorum tmmero, recipitque satisraetionem 
universa domus : utiUter in pubbcilm ; quia periculoiiores sunt isimi- 
citiae ituta libertatem," Germ. xiii. " Sed et levioribus deUctis [in- 
cluding homicide] pro modo poenBTum equorum pecorumqne numero 
convict! multantur. Para miiltae regi vel civitatl, pais ipsi qui vindi- 
cator, vel propinquis eius exsulvitur." Ibii). vii. 

' The Saxon lavr says, in accordance with the univenal laiv of na> 
ture and soriety, " A mrin louy figlit, irithout innuring the penalty of 


avail himsetf of tlie means of peaceful settlemCDt 
which society has provided for him, the person in- 
jured may make war upon him, and have the assist- 
ance of the State in so doing. The most general 
expression of this right is found in a proverbial 
formula retained in the law of Eadweard the Con- 
fessor, and which may be said to comprise all the 
law of the subject : it says, " Let amends be made 
to the kindred, or let their war be borne ;" whence 
the English had the proverb, ' Bicge spere of side 
(5^er here,' that is to say, Buy off the spear or bear 
it'. The mode however of applying this general 
right was not left to individual caprice. The fol- 
lowing regulations made by successive kings will 
explain very fully the practice and the theory of 
Feud or War. .<Elfred ordains, "That the man who 
knows his foe to be homesitting fight not, be- 
fore he have demanded justice of him. If he have 
power enough to beset bis foe, and besiege him in 
his house, let him keep him there for seven days, but 
not attack him, if he will remain within-doors. If 
then, after seven days, he be willing to surrender, 
and to give up his weapons, let him be kept safe 
for thirty days, and let notice of him be giveo 
to his kinsmen and friends. . . . But if the plaintiff 

misinic nnr. ftgainBt him nhom he lindB nith his wedded wife, wttbin 
closed donn, or under one covering ; or, with his dBiighter lawAdlf 
bom, or with his siater ls»fiU1_v bom, or with his mother, who wu 
given to lii« father as hi» wedded wife." In these c»«cs there i», »d 
can he, no murder hefore the law. It IB needless to show from tilt 
history and trsditiuni of every European state, that this is ■ princtiiit 
uairersally recognized. 

' LI. Elldw. Conf. xii. Tlior|«. i. 44?. 



have not power enough of his own to besiege his 
foeman, let him ride to the ealdorman and beg aid 
of liim ; and if the ealdorman will not aid him, let 
him ride to the king before he fights. In hke man- 
ner if a man come accidentally upon his foe, and 
without previous knowledge of his homestaying ; if 
the foe will surrender his weapons, let him be kept 
safely for thirty days, and let notice be given to his 
friends. If he will not surrender his weapons, he 
may lawfully be attacked. But if he be willing to 
surrender and to deliver up his weapons, and after 
that, any one attack him, let him pay wer and 
wound, as well he may, and fine, and have forfeited 
his mjegship'. We also declare that it is lawful 
war, for a man to fight for his lord, if any one 
attack his lord : and so also may the lord fight for 
his man. And in like manner a man may fight 
for his born kinsman, if any wrongfully attack 
him, except against his own lord : that we allow 
not. And it is lawful war if a man find another 
with his wedded wife within closed doors, or under 
one covering, orwith his daughter born in wedlock, 
or his sister born in wedlock, or his mother who 
was given to his father as a wedded wife'." 

The inconveniences of this slate of society in- 
duced Eadmund, about the middle of the tenth cen- 

' Probably, *' Let bim forfeit all claim to tbe asaUlnncc of liis kiua- 
tnen, citber in repelling feiiil or paying liDe." 

' lEIfr. ^ 4-J. I have sliftbtly variud the form of cxprcraion in the 

lut Kiiteoces, on aecount of the difficulty of rendering the odjcotive 

oncigr. .Elfrcil layi in these rues a nsii may fight orwit/e, literally, 

Wfitkout incairing the gatil of making tear, without becoming obuosioiu 

1 1« the penalties Mogned to the crime of «»r-raiBing. 

I VOL. I. T 


tury, to release the kindred from the consequences 
of fseh^e : he thus commences his secular laws : 

'' Eddmund the king makes known to all the 
people, old and young, that are in his dominioD, 
what I have deliberated with the counsel of my 
Witan, both ordained and laic. First how I might 
best promote Christianity. Then seemed it to us 
first most needful that we should most firmly pre- 
serve peace and harmony among ourselves, through* 
out all my dominion. Both I, and all of us, hold 
in horror the unrighteous and manifold fightings 
that exist among ourselves : we have therefore de- 
creed : If henceforth any one slay another, let hun 
bear the feud himself, unless by the assistance of 
his friends, and within twelve months, he make 
amends with the full wer^ be he bom as he may. 
But if his kindred forsake him, and will not pay for 
him, it is my will that all the kindred be unfdh [out 
of feud] except the actual perpetrator; provided 
that they do not give him either food or protection. 
But if afterwards any of the kindred harbour him', 
he shall be liable in all that he possesses to the 
king^ and bear the feud with the kindred, because 
they had previously forsaken him. But if any of 
the other kindred take vengeance upon any man 
save the actual perpetrator, let him be foe to the 
king and all his friends, and forfeit all that he 

* A forfeiture of this kind is recorded in the Codex DiplomaticMf 
No8. 714, 71i>, 1*^04. A lady had harboured her brother, while an wit- 
law for murder. Iler lands were all forfeited and given to the king* 

2 Eadm. Sec. L. § 1. Thorpe, i. 246. 

B.X.] FvE'HDE- WERGYLD. 275 

It is probable that this right thus reserved to the 
kindred of deserting their guilty kingman, was not 
often exercised, nevertheless the subsequent laws 
of iESelred and Cnut* may be considered to have 
been understood in connexion with it, and subject 
to its Umitations. 

The law of Eddweard the elder (about a.d. 900 to 
915), regulates the mode of proceeding when both 
parties are willing to forgo the feud, upon the esta- 
blished principles of compensation. Hesays*: "The 
wergyld of a twelfhynde man is twelve hundred 
shillings. The wergj'ld of a twyhynde man is two 
hundred shillings. If any one be slain, let him be 
paid for according to his birth. And it is the lav, 
that, after the slayer has given pledge for the wer- 
gyld, he should find in addition a loerborh, accord* 
ing to the circumstances of the case ; that is, for 
tlie wergyld of a twelfhynde man, the werborh 
must consist of twelve men, eight by the father's, 
four by the mother's side. When that is done, 
let the king's protection be set up ; that is, all, of 
either kindred, laying their hands together upon one 
weapon, shall pledge themselves to the mediator, 
that the king's protection shall stand. In twenty- 
one days from that day let one hundred and twenty 
shiiiingg be paid as healsfang, at a twelfhynde man's 
wergyld. The healsfang belongs to the children, 
brothers and paternal uncles ; that money belongs 
to no kinsman except such as are within the de- 
grees of blood. Twenty-one days after the healsfang 

' See mbgve, cap. Lx. {>. 264, 

* Etid. aB<l Ou-5. ^ 13. Thorpe, i. 17-t. 


270 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

is paid, let the manbdt be paid ; twenty-one days 
later, the fighUfine ; in twenty-one days from this, 
the frumgyld or first instalment of the wergyld ; and 
so forth until the whole sum be discharged at such 
fixed time as the Witan have agreed. After this 
they may depart with love, if they desire to have 
full friendship. And with respect to the wergyld 
of a ceorl, all that belongs to his condition shaU be 
done in like manner as we have said respecting the 
twelfhynde man." 

The law of Eadmund contains similar provisions^ 
** The Witan shall appease feud. First, according 
to folkright, the slayer shall give pledge to his ad- 
vocate, and the advocate to the kindred of the slain, 
that the slayer will make compensation to the kin. 
Then it is necessary that security b^ given to the 
slayer's advocate, that the slayer may draw nigh in 
peace, and himself give pledge for the wergyld. 
When he has given his wed for this, let him further 
find a werborh, or security for the payment of the 
wer. When that is done let the king's protection 
be set up : within twenty-one days from that, let the 
healsfang be paid ; within other twenty-one days, 
the manbdt ; and twenty-one days from that, the 
first instalment of the wergyld." 

The wergyld then, or life-price, was the basis 
upon which all peaceful settlement of feud was 
established. A sum, paid either in kind or in 
money, where money existed, was placed upon the 
life of every free man, according to his rank in the 

» Eddm. Sec. § 7. Thorpe, i. 260. 

«B. K.] FJi'HDE. WERGVLD. 277 

state, his birth or his office. A corresponding sum 
was settled for every wound that could be inflicted 
upon bis person ; for nearly every injury that could 
be done to his civil rights, Ins honour or bis do- 
mestic peace ; and further fines were appointed ac- 
cording to the peculiar, adventitious circumstances 
that might appear to aggravate or extenuate the 
offence. From the operation of this principle no 
one was exempt, and the king as well as the pea- 
sant was protected by a wergyld, payable to bis 
kinsmen and bis people. The difference of the wer- 
gyld is the principal distinction between different 
classes ; it defined the value of each man's oath, 
his mund or protection, and the amount of bis fines 
or his exactions: and, as we have already seen', it 
regulated the equivalent for his value. And as it 
is obvious that the simple wergyld of the free man 
is the original unit in the computation, we have a 
strong argument, were any needed, that that class 
formed the real basis and original foundation of all 
Teutonic society. 

Although this principle was common to all the 
Germanic tribes, veiy great variety exists in the 
amounts severally adopted to represent the value of 
different ranks, — a variety easily understood when 
we reflect upon the relative condition of those tribes 
at the period when this portion of tbeir law was 
first settled. A slight account of them will be use- 
ful, as an introduction to the consideration of our 
Anglosaxon values. It will be seen throughout that 

' See obovf, p. 275. 

278 THB SAXONS IN £NGLAND. [book l 

various circumstances have tended to introduce 
changes into the early and simple orders 

Salian Franks. — Ingenuus, 200 sol. : litus, 100 
sol. : ingenuus in hoste 600 : litus in hoste, 300 sol.: 
ingenuus in truste 1800 : litus in truste, 900 sol. 

Thus if engaged in actual warfare, the value of 
the freeman and the emancipated serf was tripled ; 
and if in the trust or immediate service of the king, 
their respective values were multiplied nine timet. 
It is probable that the Ripuarian Franks adopted 
the same numbers. 

AngU et Werini. — Ldber 200 sol. : adaling (no- 
ble) 600 : libertus (freedman) 80 sol. 

Law of the Saxons. — Probably, the freeman 240 
shiUings: noble 1440: freedman 120 shillings. 

Law of the Bavarians. — ^The duke 960 shillings : 
the ducal family of the Agilolfings, 640 : the other 
five noble races, 320 shillings : the simple free man 
160 shillings. 

Law of the Alamanni. — Primus (the first rank of 
the nobles) 240 shillings : medianus (the second 
rank of nobles) 200 : minofledus (the free man) 

Law of the Burguudians. — Noble 300 shilUngs: 
lower noble (mediocris) 200 : freeman (minor) 150. 

Law of the Frisians. — Noble 80 shillings : free- 
man 53^ ; freedman 26f shillings. 

Law of the Visigoths. — Freeman (between the 
years of twenty and fifty) 300 shillings : freedmaa 

* The following numbers are taken from Grimm, Rechtsalt. p. 272. 


In the North, 100 silfrs was the wergyld of the 
freeman, and there is no account of the jarl's. The 
Old Swedish laws generally assign 40 marks ; this 
is the reckoning of the Upland, Sudermanland, 
and Eastgothland laws. The Westgothland law has 
39 marks ; the Jutish 54 ; and the Gutalag, three 
marks of gold. 

The wergyld of the clergy is slightly different : 
among the Salic Franks, deacon 300, priest 600, 
bishop 900 shillings. A late addition to the Ri- 
puarian law computes, — clericus 200, subdeacon 
400, deacon 500, priest 600, bishop 900. 

This is sufficient to give a general outline of the 
i^ystem : it will be observed that these continental 
computations give no reckoning for the king. Be- 
yond doubt they were for the most part settled after 
the royal power had become so fully developed as 
to cast aside all traces of its original character and 

The Anglosaxon equivalents for these computa- 
tions are by no means clear ; nor, as far as we can 
judge, are they altogether consistent. It is probable 
that they varied not only in the several Anglosaxon 
kingdoms, but were also subject to change at va- 
rious periods, as the relative value of life and pro- 
duce altered. The Kentish law which names only 
the eorl and ceorl, as the two classes of free men, 
does not give us the exact amount of their wer- 
gylds, but it supplies us with some data by which 
perhaps an approximation may be made to it. In 
iE^elberht's law (§ 2, 5, 8) the king's mundhyrd 
or protection is valued at j&fty shillings, the eorl's 

280 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

or noble's at twelve (^ 13, 14, compared with 4 10, 
15, 16, 17), and the ceorFs or simple freeman's at 
six (§ 15, 25, 88), Thus the three classes stand in 
the relation of fifty, twelve and six ; or taking the 
ceorl as unity, their respective values are 8J-, 2 and 
1 : that is, 

Ceorl ; eorl : : 1:2. 

Ceorl : king : : 1 : 8^. 

Eorl : king : : 1 : 4^. 

Now the medume leddgeld of the ceorl is stated to 
be one hundred shillings (^ 7), and if Grimm and 
Thorpe were right in translating this the half wer- 
gyld, we should have the very improbable sums of 
200, 400 and 1666^ Kentish shillings. Meduma 
however does not signify half but middling^ mode- 
rate : the enactment in iE^elberht's law amounts 
in fact to this : If a man slay another, he is to 
pay his wergyld ; but not so, if the slayer happen 
to be the king's armourer or messenger ; in that 
case he is to pay only a moderated wergyld of one 
hundred shillings. It was an exemption in favour 
of two most important officers of the royal house- 
hold ; and shows partly the growing encroach* 
ment of prerogative, partly the value set upon the 
talents of the officers themselves ^ The common 
wergyld then was above one hundred, and I think 
it can be shown that it was below two hundred, 
shillings. The case of a wergyld paid for a king, 

* The royal messengers were often of the highest rank. The beroie 
character of tlic M'cn|)on- smith or armourer appears throughout the 
traditions of the North, and indeed in the epic poetry of all natioof. 

CB.K.] ¥£HDit WERGYLD. 281 

though rare, is by no means unexampled'. In 
the year 687, Miil ^^elweard, a scion of the royal 
race of Wessex, invaded Kent, and having incau- 
tiously suffered himself to be surprised by the 
coutitry.people, was burnt to death in a bouse wliere 
he had taken refuge with a fi^w comrades. Seven 
years later the men of Kent made compeusation to 
Ini for Mul's death. The sum given is very vari- 
ously stated. William of Malmsbury says it was 
thirty thousand mancuses*; which, calculated at 
eight mancuses to the pound, would be three thou- 
eatid, seven hundred and fifty pounds, and this 
is the sum mentioned by Florence of Worcester*, 
.^^elweard, the oldest Latin chronicler, but still 
removed four centuries from the time, makes it 
amount to thirty thousand solidi or shillings, each 
of which is to he calculated at sixteen pence*. Some 
manuscripts of the Saxon Chronicle read thirty 
thousand pounds*, "f>rittigfusend punda," — others, 

' In tlie yeai 671' B battle Man fought bctncco Ecgfri'S of Nortbum- 
berland and .SSilrtcil of Mercia. " Auno regis Ecgfriili nono, conaerto 
gniTi pTaelio inter ipsum et Aedilrediim ref^m Merciorum, iuxta flu- 
viam TreautH, occinis est Aelfuini, frster regis Ecgfridi, iiivenis cirdter 
dccetn et octo snnorum, utriquc provinciae multum atuHbilia. Nam et 
»ororcm ciui quae tlicebatiir Osfr^'d, rex Aeiblred habebat iixorem. 
Cumque materies belli acrioris et ioiniieitiae longioris inter reges, po- 
puloaqne feroces vjdcretur cxorta, Tlieodorus, deo dilcctus anliates, 
diviuo functus au»ilio, solutifera exliortatione coeptum tanti ptriculi 
fdnditiiB exatinguit incendium ; adeo ut pncatia altemtrum regibus ac 
populis, niilliai onima hominU pro inJer/ecto regis fralre, sed dcbila 
Molummotio multa peeuttiae regi ullori darrlur. Cuius foedera pacis 
tuulto exinde tempore inter eosdem reges eoniraque rrgna duraruot. 
In praefato autem praebo, quo occisu* est Hex Aelfuiai," etc. Bed. 

« Old. Meld. Getl. ReR. lib. i. > Flor.Wigoro. an. 694. 

* ^£«elvr. Cbron. ii. cap. 10. ' Cbron. Saxon, an. 694. 

282 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

thirty pounds, " }>rittig punda. " Now however con- 
tradictory all these statements may at first sight 
appear (and there can be no doubt that some of them 
are ridiculously exaggerated), it is not impossible 
to reconcile and explain them. Every one of the 
authorities I have cited, except Florence, who has 
evidently calculated his sum upon what he believed 
to be the value of the mancus, reads thirty thousand 
of some coin or other. One will have them pounds, 
another shillings, another mancuses, etc. Now 
they are all wrong in their denomination, and all 
equally right in their number ; and for this very 
obvious reason, — the originals from which they de- 
rived their information did mention the number, 
and did not mention the denomination. Each au- 
thor put the question to himself, '^ Thirty thousand 
what ? " and answered it by supplying the supposed 
omission with the coin most familiar to himself. 
But there cannot be the least doubt that the Saxon 
original read Jjrittig ]7usenda, thirty thousand, and 
nothing else ; and this is not only actually the read- 
ing of some MSS. of the Chronicle, but most likely 
the cause of the error which lies in the other copies, 
incautious transcribers having been misled by the 
resemblance between the Saxon ]? and p, and mis- 
taken the contraction J^rittig ]7unda for J^rittig pun- 
da, thirty pounds. It is the custom of the Anglo- 
saxon tongue, in describing measures of land or 
sums of money, to use the numerals only, leaving 
the commonest units to be supplied by the reader. 
Thus if land were intended, thirty thousand would 
denote that number of hides ^ and where money is 

CH. X,] I'/E'HDE. WERGYLD. 283 

intended, at least in Kent, thirty thousand scmtsK 
This then I believe to have been the sum paid to 
Ini, and the regular personal wergyld of a Kentish 
king. Let us now apply this sum to elucidate the 
value of the other Kentish wergylds, From a com- 
parison of the compensation appointed for inju- 
ries done to the nails of the fingers and toes, Mr. 
Thorpe, the late Mr. Allen, and I concluded that 
the value of a Kentish shilling was twenty screts. 
But thirty thousand sciets would be fifteen hundred 
such shilUngs, and assuming this to be the royal 
wergyld, we shall find the eorl's to be 360, the 
ceorl's 180 shillings, which amounts are exactly 
thirty times the value of the several mundbyrds*. 
In the first volume of Mr. Thorpe's Anglosaxon 
Laws, at p. 186, there is a document which pro- 
fesses to give the values of different classes in 
Northumberland. Its date is uncertain, though it 
appears to have beeu generally assigned to the com- 
mencement of the tenth century. I confess that I 
can hardly reconcile myself to so early a date, and 
think it altogether a suspicious authority. It tells 
us as follows : 

" 1. The Northpeople's royal gytd is thirty thou- 
sand thrymsas ; fifteen thousand thrymsas are for 
the wergyld, and fifteen thousand for the royal dig- 

■ Conf. LI. HloSh. 5 10. Ji;-5elr, ^ 7. Alfred's Bcda, iii. 5. So, &ii 
fiftig, oitji/ly, meana Rfty psnlas to be sun[r or saiJ. ^Stlst. iv. § 3. 
V. B. $ 6. Ha one mistakes the meaning oljivr hundred,Jice thoasand 

' 1500 Kentiah shillings, wliicli are equivalent to rather more than 
7800 Saxon ibilliDga, were a sufBcient sum, at n period irhen an ewe 
with her lamb iru north only one Saxon shilliug. LI, Ini, % &&. 


284 THE 8AX0NS IN ENGLAND. [boos i. 

nity. The wer belongs to the kindred ; the cyruhil 
to the people. 

'^ 2. An archbishop's and an ae%eling's wergyld 
is fifteen thousand thrymsas. 

'^3. A bishop's and an ealdorman's, eight thou- 
sand thrymsas. 

** 4. A hold's and a king's high reeve's, four 
thousand thrymsas. 

'' 5. A mass thane's and a secular thane's, two 
thousand thrymsas. 

" 6. A ceorl's wergyld is two hundred and sixty- 
six thrymsas, that is two hundred shillings by Mer- 
cian law. 

** 7. And if a Welshman thrive so well that he 
have a hide of land, and can bring forth the king's 
tax, then is his wergyld one hundred and twenty 
shillings ; and if he thrive not save to half a hide, 
then let his wer be eighty shillings. 

'* 8. And if he have not any land, but yet is free, 
let him be paid for with seventy shillings. 

** 9. And if a ceorlish man thrive so well that 
he have five hides of land for the king's tHware, 
and any one slay him, let him be paid for with two 
thousand thrymsas. 

'* 10. And though he thrive so that he have a 
helm and coat-of-mail, and a sword ornamented 
with gold, if he have not that land, he is notwith- 
standing a ceorl. 

' * 1 1 . And if his son and his son's son so thrive 
that they have so much land after him, the off- 
spring shall be of gesiScund [noble] race at two 

ca. X.] FJl'HDE. WEROYLD. 285 

" 12. And if Ihey have not that, nor to that 
amount can tlirive, let them be paid for as ceorl- 

Another, and perhaps more trustworthy docu- 
ment, printed at p. 190 of the same volume, gives 
UB the following values as current in Mercia. 

" A ceorrs wergyld is by Mercian law, two hun- 
dred tihiliings. A thane's wergyld is six times as 
- much, that is, twelve hundred shillhigs. Then is 
a king's simple wergyld, six thanes' wer by Mer- 
cian law, that is tliirty thousand sceats and that is 
altogether one hundred and twenty pounds. So 
much is the wergyld in the folkright by Mercian 
law. And for the royal dignity such another sum 
is due, as compensation for cynegyld. The wer be- 
longs to the kindred, the cynebot to the people." 

A passage already cited in this chapter gives the 
wergylds of the freeman and noble in Wessex as 
respectively two hundred and twelve hundred scil- 
lingas, whence those classes are called twyhynde 
and twelfhynde: these denominations correspond 
to the old and usual ceorl and eorl ; and as the 
original expression for all classes of society was, 
be it churl, be it earl, Cnut could use as perfectly 
equivalent, be it twyhynde, he it twelfhynde*. But 
in Wessex a third class is mentioned, whose wer- 
gyld was half that of the twelfhynde, and three 
times that of the ceorl : they are called sixhynde, 
raen of six hundred. It is difficult to say whether 

' " Swi eac we sctta'5 bt enUimi liii<lum go reorle ge corle." -Elf. 
% A. "Cnut eing gr^t . , . .ealle iniiic [■egnaa tnelfliyaJe nnJ twyliynde 
irefinillice.*' Coil. Dipt. No. 7^1. 



[tOOK I. 

they are the original nobles, three times as valuable 
as the freeman, and whether the twelfhynde are 
an exclusive class of magnates, raised above them 
during the progressive development of the royal 
power ; or whether on the contrary, the twelf hjrnde 
and twyhynde are the original divisions, and the six- 
hynde a middle class of ministerials, which sprang 
up when ceorls had entered the service of the crown, 
and thus became raised above their fellow freemen. 
I incline to the latter opinion, partly from the ap- 
parent absence of this sixhynde class in Mercia, 
partly from the apposition noticed above, and the 
omission of the sixhynde altogether from the pas* 
sage in Eadweard's law, which regulates the pay- 
ments for the other two classes. There is no state- 
ment of a royal wergyld in Wessex, but from what 
has been said of the composition made for Mul, it 
may be inferred that it was thirty thousand sceattas 
or 120 pounds, like that of Mercia. The total in- 
consistency of these several values will be apparent 
if we arrange them tabularly : 

Northtimb. Mercia. 






-f 15000 



+ 7200 





+ 1500 















2000 600 



266 200 200 180 

If these data be accurate, we must conclude that 

cH.x.] FiE'HDE. WERGYLD. 287 

the ratio of the king and noble to the ceorl in the 
different states varied as follows : 

North. . king : ceorl : : 113 : 1 nearly. 

Merc. . . king : ceorl : : 72 : 1 . 

Wessex. king : ceorl : : 72 : 1 . 

Kent. . . king : ceorl : : I7f : 1. 

North. . noble, 1st class : ceorl : : 56 : 1 nearly. 

2nd class : ceorl : : 30^ : 1 nearly. 

3rd class : ceorl : : 1 5:^ : 1 nearly. 

4th class : ceorl : : 7^ : 1 nearly. 
Merc. . . noble : ceorl : : 6 : 1. 
Wessex. noble, 1st class : ceorl : : 6 : 1. 

2nd class : ceorl : : 3 : 1 . 
Kent. . . noble : ceorl : : 2 : 1. 

Now this variety, which is totally irrespective of 
the real value of the J^ryms and the shilling, seems 
to involve this part of the subject in impenetrable 
darkness. All that we can permit ourselves to 
guess is, that circumstances had in process of time 
altered the original relations between the classes, 
but in different ratios in the different kingdoms. 
This however is not all the difficulty : we have 
to contend with the complication arising from the 
fact, that the scilling, the currency in which all the 
southern calculations are nominally made, really 
differed in value in the several states : and thus 
when we attempt to compare one freeman with 
another, we find their respective prices to be in 
Mercia 8S^ sceats, in Kent 3600. 

However the details were arranged, the principle 
itself is clear enough, and we must now be content 

288 THE 8AX0NS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

to remain in ignorance of the means adopted to re- 
concile conflicting interests measured by a standard 
so imperfect. 

But the wergyld or price of the whole man was 
not all that the law professed to regulate. When 
once the principle had been admitted, that this 
might be fixed at a certain sum, it was an easy 
corollary not only that the sum in question should 
limit the amount of responsibility to the State' but 
that a tariff^ for all injuries should be settled. In 
the laws of iE^elberht and -ZElfred we find very 
detailed assessments of the damage which could be 
done to a man by injuries, either of his person, his 
property, or his honour : many of these are amu- 
sing and strange enough, and highly indicative 
of the rude state of society for which they were 
adapted. But it seems unnecessary to pursue the 
details they deal with : they may serve to turn a 
period about Teutonic barbarism, or to point a 
moral about human fallibility; but the circum- 
stances under which thev were rational and con- 
venient arrangements have passed away, and they 
are now of little interest as historical records, and 
of none with a view to future utility. 

* Capital punishments arc necessarily rare in early periods. Tadtiu 
limits those of the Germans to cases of high-treason or effeminacy, two 
crimes which strike at the root of all society. Ilencc the highest pu- 
nishment is payment of the wergyld : a capital thief is wergyld-)>e6f. 
If he cannot or \rill not pay, he is outlawed, that is excluded from the 
benefits of the mutual guarantee among free men : he may be slain as 
a common enemy, iure belli, or reduced to 8laTeiy> which is the more 
usual result. 



It was a wise insight into the accidents of increa- 
sing population wlucli limited the amount of the 
original ^Bel, or allodial estate. By leaving, as it 
were, a large fund to be drawn upon, as occasion 
might serve, the principle, that every freeman must 
be settled on land, was maintained, without con- 
demning society to a stationary condition, as to 
numbers. The land thus left, of which the usu- 
fruct, under certain conditions, was enjoyed by the 
freemen, was called Folcland, terra publica, ager 
publicus. It was distinguished from the e?el by 
not becoming absolute property in the hands of 
individuals, consequently by not being hereditary. 
The dominivm utile might be granted ; the domi- 
vium directum remained in the state, which was a 
perpetual feoflee for certain trusts and uses. And 
hence folcland was subject to rents of divers kinds, 
and reversion. The folcland could also be applied 
to reward great public services, in which case 
estates of alod, or dlSel, were carved out of it, and 
presented to him whom the community desired to 
honour'. The service which Wulf and Eofer did 

' The Tifittvt, or cut-oft' portion, entail, whirh service might earn 
■mong the Greekt, it of the same charai^r. According lo tradition, 
VOL. I. U 


by slaying Ongen^edw was rewarded with a grant 
of land and rings*. The clearest view of the nature 
and object of folcland is given us by Beda, who 
complains that it is diverted from its proper pur- 
pose, — which is, to be granted as a support to those 
whose arms would defend the country, — under pre- 
tence of erecting monasteries, which are a disgrace 
to their profession. The following are his extremely 
important words : 

'' And since there are both very numerous and 
very extensive tracts, which, to adopt the com- 
mon saying, are of use neither to God nor man, — 
seeing indeed that in them there is neither main- 
tained a regular life according to Grod's law, nor 
are they possessed by the soldiers or comites of 
secular persons, who might defend our race from 
the barbarians, — if any one, to meet the want of 
our time, should establish an episcopal see in 
those places, he will be proved not to incur the 

rittacus was thus rvwanleti by the (leople of Mitylene, after overcoming 
Phnnon. tho Athoiiiaii champion, in single combat : r&r d€ Mirt-Xiy- 
niitt^i' i^^>€iW utT^ fAryviXas ^idormv, aKorriaas to dofsv, TtAro /aopov ro 
\«7>ti^i- *>^i«kHTo-, 6<r\\y «T«'T\c»' 17 €U}jifi' roi KoXcIrcu t^xP^ '^ IliTTaJuor. 
Vlut. Jc Malign, llorvnl. o. xv. Tho reward allotted to Horatias in the 
Komau Acvt ousrht now to bo famihar to ererr one : 

** ThoY ptvo him of the coni-laiid 
That was of ^Hiblio n^t« 
As ir.uch as two s:n>ntf oxen 
Could i^oujra ^vmi mom till nigfat !** 

" Ov'uld None i:u>r«s 
G\\A:a ^lr\ htcu .... 

«ov."r* i*rh« a: >cu2S 


gmlt of prevarication, but rather to perform an act 
of virtue'." 

And again, he continues : 

" By which example it behoves also your Holi- 
ness, in conjunction with our religious king, to 
abrogate the irreligious deeds and writings of our 
predecessors, and to provide for the general ad- 
vantage of our kingdom, either in reference to 
God, or to the world : lest in our days, either 
through the cessation of religion, the love and fear 
of an inspector at home should be abandoned ; or, 
on the other hand, the supply of our secular militia 
decreasing, we should not have those who might 
defend our boundaries from the incursions of bar- 
barians. For, what is disgraceful to say, persons 
who have not the least claim to the monastic cha- 
racter, as you yourself best know, have got so many 
of these spots into their power, under the name of 
monasteries, that there is really now no place at 
all where the sons of nobles or veteran soldiers can 
receive a grant*. And thus, idle and unmarried, 
being grown up to manhood, they live on in no pro- 
fession of chastity ; and on this account, they either 
cross the sea and desert the country which they 
ought to serve with their arms ; or, what is even 
more criminal and shameless, having no profession 

' Dcd> Qpiit. m1 Ecgbirhlum Arcliiepisropuin, ^ II. (0|>crB lliu. 
ii. 216.) 

* Wc know thRt these granU vere rc^lnted by tlic rank and pon- 
dition of the grantee BcHb, speuking of Benedict BUcop, a younf{ 
Nortliumbruui niiblpman, snys, " Cum csset minister Oswii regis, ei 
pOBsesiionent teirae tuo gradiii competentem, iUa donantc perriperet," 
«tc. Vit. 8d. Bened. § 1. (Op. Min. Ii. HO,) 

V 2 

jS*i TBX stiXOSS K EXGL15D. [book i. 

u€ chssszrij. tfijej pre tfaeneelTes up to loxary and 
Kc^.Tcanxi- &Zfi arHtain not eren from the Tirgins 
ctii&stEcrfcrei to God-.'" 

Tbe eTii^ oc a oooise which, by prerenting the 
possfbilitT oc ESLrriase. tends \o the general ne^ect 
of zioralirr. art as obiions in this state of society, 
as in thc-se where tbe indefinite partition of es- 
tates reccces ail the membeis of the higher classes 
to a stale o£ poTerty. — a fact perfectly familiar id 
conctrie^ where the resonrccs of trade are not per- 
mitted to minute tbe mischief of subdivision. 

The foldand then in Ensland was the national 
stock. It is probable that the same thing occurred 
in other Teutonic states, and that the folcland there 
also formed a reserve from which endowments of 
individuals, homebom or foreign, and of religions 
houses, were made. Thos, '' Princeps de eius re- 
cuperatione simul et postulatione mnltum gavisus, 
et suum ad boo cocsensum et parentum adep- 
tus e-^t favorem ; deditque illi in eisdem partibus, 
multas pcssessiones de publico, quatinus viciniori 
potentia soceris acceptior facius, non minori apud 
illos, quam in genital! solo praecelleret dignitatel" 

We cannot now tell the exact terms upon which 
the usufruct of tbe folcland was permitted to indi- 
vidual holders. Much of it was probably distri- 
buted in severalty, to be enjoyed by tbe grantee 
during his life, and then to revert to the donor the 
State. As the holders of such lands were most pro- 
bably not included in the Marks, bke the owners 

' Epist. 4 U. (Op. Min. ii. 217, 218.; 
= Vit. S. Idar. Pertz, ii. 571. 

CH. sr.l l-OLCI.AN'U AM) HO'CLAND. L»t3 

of allodial property, tliey may have tbrmed the pro- 
per basis of the original gyldscipas, and have been 
more immediately subject to ttie jnrisdtction of the 
scirgemot ; for it is impossible to believe that their 
condition was one of such perfect freedom as that 
of the original allodial owners. 

A portion also of the folcland may long have sub- 
sisted as common land, subject lo the general rights 
of all'. In this respect it must have resembled the 
public land of the Romans. Only that, the true 
Roman burghers or Patricians, being comparatively 
few, while the other claimants were many, and self- 
defence therefore commanded the utmost caution 
iu admitting thera to isotely, — the struggles be- 
tween the Patrician and Plebeian orders necessarily 
assumed in Rome a character of exasperation and 
hostility which was wanting in England. But it 
does not appear that in this country, the tribes of 
the Gewissas could have made any claim to the 
folcland of the Mercians, or that those of the 
Welsh would have found favour with any Saxon 

Tn whatever form the usufruct may have been 
granted, it was accompanied by various settled 
burthens. In the first place were the inevitable 
charges from which no land was ever relieved ; 
namely military service, alluded to by Beda, and 
no doubt in early times performed in person : the 

' Thii Kemi the rendiest way of aecoimting for the right of « 
enjoyed by the kiiig, eoldonnan and f^er^ta, in nearly everj' part of 
£iiglandi which right they could slieuatc tu others. For the king^'i 
«oniinon of pasture, etc. tee Cod. Dipt. Noa. B6, 1 19, 276, 2SS, etc. 


repair of roads, bridges and fortifications. But be- 
sides these, there were dues payable to the king, 
and the ger^fa ; watch and ward on varioiis occar 
sions ; aid in the royal hunting ; convoy of messen- 
gers going and coming on the public sendee, from 
one royal vill to another ; harbouring of the king, 
his messengers and huntsmen ; lastly provision for 
his hawks, hounds and horses. In addition to these, 
there were heavy payments in kind, which were to 
be delivered at the royal vills, to each of which, 
various districts were apparently made appurtenant, 
for this purpose ; and on which stores, so duly de- 
livered, the king and his household in some degree 
depended for subsistence. These were comprised 
under the name Cyninges-feorm, or Firma regis. 

It is from the occasional exemptions granted by 
the authority of the king and his witan, that we 
learn what burthens the folcland was subject to : it 
may therefore be advantageous to cite a few exam- 
ples, which will make the details clear. 

Between 791 and 796, eighty hides of land at 
Westburv and Hanburv were relieved bv Offa from 
the dues to kings, dukes and their subordinates; 
except these payments, that is to say, the gafol at 
Westbury (sixty hides), two tuns full of bright 
ale, and a comb full of smooth ale, and a comb full 
ol ^^ elsh ale, and seven oxen, and six wethers, and 
forty cheeses, and six langSero (?), and thirty am- 
bers of rough corn, and four ambers of meal, to the 
royal vilP. 

> Cod. Dipl. No. 166. Here, by the wmv, the comb is uied u • 
liquid measure ; vtry probably of thirty-two'gmUons, the mmouiil of the 



In 863, an estate at Marsham was to pay by the 
year, twenty staters of cheese, forty larabs, forty 
fleeces, and two daya' pastus' or feorm, which last 
might be commuted for thirty silver shiUinga (ar- 

In 877, Bishop Tuiiberht, with the consent of his 
chapter, appropriated lands at Nurshng to the use 
of the refectory. His charter says he grants it, 
" liberam ab omnibus terrenis difiicultatibus om- 
niuoi gravitudinum, sive a pastii regis, principis, 
exactoris ; et ab omni aedificiorum opere, tributo, 
a paraveredis, a taxatiocibus quod dicimus wite- 
raedene ; omnium rerura saecularium perpetualiter 
libera sit, excepta expeditione et pontis aeditica- 
tioae^" As he could not do this by bis own au- 
thority, he probably only means to record that they 
had been so freed by the Witena-geraot. 

In 883, twenty years later, a monastery is freed 
from all which the monks were still bound to pay 
to the king's hand, as cyningfeorm, both in bright 
ale, beer, honey, oxen, swine and sheep, in short 
from all the gafol, much or little, known or un- 
known, that belongs to the lord of the nation"". 

The dues from the monastery at Taunton were 
as follows : a feorm of one night for the king, and 

old (mutcI of ale, (the present barrel is thirty-Bu: gailoni). So to thii 
da; tbe hogihead a uxty-fotu galloua or twice thirty-two, the comb; 
u the quarter is giity-four gallous, or two combs of <)r}' measure. Even 
DOW in some jiarts of Surrey and Sussex, tbe peasants use peck for 
two gsUons of liquid menture : I have beard them speak of a peck, and 
erea half a buabd, of gin, brandy, beer, etc. 

' Tbe pastus regis is the gite da roi well known in French bistoiy- 

• Cod. Ihpl. No. 288, see also No. 281. 

• Cod. Dipl. No. 1063. * Ibid. No, 313. 

am THK 8AXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

eight dogs and one dog-keeper ; and nine nigfaU' 
keep for the king's falconers ; and carriage with 
waggons and horses for whatever he would have 
taken to Curry or Wilton. And if strangers came 
from other parts, they were to have guidance to the 
nearest royal vill upon their road^ 

The payments reserved upon twenty hides at 
Titchbourn, which Eadweanl in 901-909 granted 
to Denewulf of Winchester for three lives, were 
probably the old royal gafol : they were now trans- 
ferred to the church as doubk^ommons for foun* 
der's day. Thev amounted to, twelve sexters of 
beer, twelve of sweetened Welsh ale, twenty ambers 
of bright ale, two hundred large and one hundred 
small loaves, two oxen fresh or salted, six wethers, 
four swine, four flitches, and twenty cheeses ; but if 
the day of payment should fall in Lent, an equiva- 
lent of fish might be paid instead of flesh ^. 

** Insuper etiam, banc praedictam terram liberabo 
ab omui servitute saecularium rerum, a pastu regis, 
episcopi, praefectorum, exactorum, ducum, canum, 
vel equorum seu accipitrum ; ab refectione et habitu 
iilorum omnium qui dicuntur Fjestingmen,*' etc.* 

** Sint liberati a pastu principum, et a difficultate 
ilia quod nos Saxonice dicimus Festingmen ; nee 
homines illuc mittant qui accipitros vel falcones 
portant, aut canes aut caballos ducunt ; sed sint 
liberati perpetualiter in aevum^." 

** Ab opere regal i et pastu regis et principis, vel 
iuniorum eorum ; ab hospitorum refectione vel vena- 

* Cod. Dipl. No. 1084, an. 904. - Ibid. No. 1088. 

=» Ibid. No. 216, an. 822. ♦ Ibid. No. 257, «n. W4. 




torutn ; etiam equomiii regis, lalcoiium et ancipi- 
trum, et puerorum qui ducunt canes'." 

" Ut sit liberatum et absolutum illud nionaste- 
riuin ab illis causis quas Cuniteorme et Eatbr voci- 
temus ; turn a pasta accipitroruui lueorutn, quam 
etiam venatorum omnium, vel a pastu equorum 
meorum omnium, sive ministrorum eorum. Quid 
plura, ab omni ilia incomnioditate ^iVes et Cum- 
feorme, nisi istis causis quas hie norainamus : prae- 
cones si trans mare venireiil ad repem venturi, 
vel nuucii de geiite Occidentalium Saxonum vel 
de gente Northanhymbrorum, si venirent ad horam 
tertiam die! vel ad medium dieni, dabitur illis pran- 
dium i St venirent super nonani horam, tunc dabi- 
tur eis noctis pastum, et iterum de mane pergent 
iu viam suam*." 

" Et illam terrain iii manentium in Beonetlege, 
iu occidentale plaga Saebrine etiam liberabo a 
pascua porconim re[g]is, quod nomiaamus Fearn- 

" Liberabo illud a pastu et ab relectione omuium 
ancipitrum et falconum in terra Mercensium, et 
omnium venatorum re^is vel principis, nisi ipso- 
rum tantuin qui in provincia Hwicciorum sunt ; 
etiam similiter et a pastu et relectione illorum 
iiomioum quos Saxonice nominamus Wailbfrereld, 
*] heora iiesting, "j ealm Angelcynues monna, -^ 
arl|je6digra nrdefestinge, tam nobilium quam igno- 

In 875, Cedlwulf, the intrusive king of Mercia, 

C«l. Dipl. No. 258. an. S^IS. 

' Ibid. .No. 2(>l,a 

n. tyS. 

Ibid. No. 1'77, an. 855. 

< Ibid. No. 27», » 

D. yss. 

298 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

freed all the bishopric of Worcester, ' ' tota parochia 
Hwicciorum," — in other words all the churches 
belonging to it, — from the '' pastus equoram regis/' 
and their keepers ^ 

Many of the instances we meet with, both in 
England and upon the Continent, are those of 
churches or monasteries : this is natural, inasmuch 
as the clergy were most likely to obtain and record 
these exemptions. But how, it may be asked, did 
it happen that such exemptions were necessary? 
It seems to me that, when Christianity was intro- 
duced, and folcland was granted for the erection or 
the endowment of a church, the burthens were not 
always discharged ; and that the piety of later times 
was occasionally appealed to, to remedy the care- 
lessness or alter the policy of early founders. 

Folcland may be considered the original and ge- 
neral name of all estates save the hlot, sors or alod 
of the first markmen : the whole country was di- 
vided into Folclands, containing one or more hides, 
subject to folcriht or the public law, — and hence 
having no privilege or immunity of any sort ; in 
many instances where Beda uses terra unius tribu- 
tariiy terra famUiae uniusy and similar expressions, 
he can only mean to denote separate and distinct 
portions of folcland, and the words of j£lfred's 
translation imply the same thing. 

The power of disposal over this land lay in the 
nation itself, or the state ; that is, in the king and 
his witan ; but in what way, or by what ceremonies, 

» Cod. Dipl. No, 306, an. S75. 

H. XlO 


it was conferred, we no longer know. Still there 
is great probability that it was done by some of 
those well-known symbols, which survived both at 
home and abroad in the faniihar forms of livery of 
seisin, — by the straw, the rod or yard, the cespes 
viridis and the like'. We may however distinctly 
assert that it was not given by book or charter, in- 
asmuch as this form was reserved to pass estates 
under very different circumstances. 

The very fact that folcland was not the object of 
a charter causes our information respecting it to be 
meagre : it is merely incidentally and fortuitously 
that it is mentioned in those documents from which 
we derive so much valuable insight into the anti- 
quities of Saxon England. But even from them we 
may infer that it was not hereditary. 

Towards the end of the ninth century, jElfred, 
who appears to have been ealdorman or duke of 
Surrey, devised his lands by will. He left almost 
all bis property to his daughter ; and to his son 
.iE^elwald (perhaps an illegitimate child,) he gave 
only three hides of hereditary land, boclaud, ex- 
pressing however his hope that the king would 
permit his son to hold the folcland he himself had 
held. But as this was uncertain, in order to meet 
the case of a disappointment, he directed that if 
the king refused this, his daughter should choose 

' Perlisps La a ca$c of this sort, even In^lf may be tnistcd ; he tells 
aa, mth Bome reference however to the Norman forms of livery, with 
which he was far., liar, " Conferebantur ttiani primo multa praedia 
nudo Terbo, absque icripto vel cbarta, tantum cum domini gUdio, vel 
galea, vel comu, vel cratera ; et plurima teaemeuta cum calcari, cum 
■trigili, cum areu, et uomiulla cum tagitu." Ilitt. Croyl. p. 70. 


which she would give her brother, of two hereditary 
estates which he had devised to her^ 

Again, shortly before the Conquest, we find Ab- 
bot Wulfwold thus informing Gisa bishop of Wells, 
iBgelno^ the abbot, Tofig the sheriff, and all the 
thanes in Somerset' : 

'' Eadweard the king, my lord, gave me the land 
at Corfestige which my father held, and the four 
farms at ^scwic, and the fields of meadow-land 
thereunto belonging, and in wood and field so much 
that I had pasture for my cattle and the cattle of 
my men ; and all as free in every respect as the 
king's own demesne, to give or sell, during my day 
or after my day, to whomsoever it best pleases me." 

In both these cases it is clear that the land was 
holden as a benefice ; that the tenant had only a 
life interest, which Wulfwold however succeeded in 
converting into a/ee. 

As the State were the grantors, so also there ap- 
pears to have been no restriction as to the persons of 
the grantees. Of course this does not include serfs, 
or others below the degree of freemen ; although an 
emancipated serf may sometimes have been pro- 
vided with an estate of folcland, by general dona- 
tion. But there is no reason to doubt that every 
other class might obtain grants of folcland. Those 
of a duke and of various bishops have been men- 
tioned ; Wulfwold 's father was probably, at least a 
thane. But even the king himself could and did 

' Coil. Dipl. Xo. 317. 

' Members of the scirgemot or county-court : heuce the instrument 
i« of a solemn and legal description. Cod. Dipl. No. 821. 

CH. XI.] FOLCLaND and nO'CLAND. ;«ii 

hold laud of this description. The boundary of an 
estate is said to run to the king's folcland ; " ab 
occideate Cyninges folcland quod habet Wighelm 
et Wultiaf." 

At a verj' early period however it became a prac- 
tice to carve hereditary estates out of the folcland, 
which thus became the private property of the 
individual, and could by him be given, sold, or 
devised at his pleasure ; by wliicli the reversion to 
the state was defeated, and the common stock in- 
sofar diminished. It was also usual to release such 
land from all the dues which had previously been 
rendered from it, aud to make it absolutely free ', 
with the exception of the three services which 
were inevitably incident to all landed possession, 
and which are consequently known by the names 
of Communis labor, Generalis incommoditas, Ontts 
inevitabile, Tr'inoda necessitas, and similar expres- 
sions. These estates were always granted by book 
or charter, aud hence bore the name of bwland : 
and it is questionable whether the two descriptions 
did not, at a very early period, comprise all the 
land in England, as the families of the first allodial 
possessors died out, and their possessions either 
reverted to llic state, or became alienated under 
circumstances which included them in the category 
of bocland. 

We learn that the pretext upon which these con- 

' Cod. Dipl. No. 281. 

* Henre n free hide, hi<ia libtra, U {iroperiy ralleil 
i^eficlea landei." a hide of land thtt jiays no gnfiil oi 
Dipl. No. 107«. 


versions of folcland into bdcland were made at first, 
was the erection and endowment of a religious house 
upon the land, by the grantee ; and we also learn 
that sometimes the conversion was made, the thane 
presented with the estate, but the church or mo- 
nastery not constructed. Soon after the introduc- 
tion of Christianity into Northumberland, it appears 
indeed to have been customary to grant much 
greater privileges and immunities to church-lands 
than were found advisable at a later period, or than 
seem to have been permitted in the provinces south 
of the Humber. It stands to reason that there 
could be no reversion in lands granted to a corpo* 
ration : hence folcland which had been presented to 
a church assumed what may be called a hereditary 
character \ and could only lapse by total destruc- 
tion of the particular body, — a circumstance which 
could obviously never be contemplated, but which 
did actually occur during the civil wars, internal 
dissensions and foreign invasions, which gradually 
changed the face of the whole country*. But the 
lands which the Northumbrian princes devoted to 
pious purposes, were most likely relieved from all 
burthens whatsoever : we have conclusive evidence 
that even militarv service was excused in that dis- 
trict before the time of Beda. In all probability, 

' Laud is sometimes called Bisbop-laud, which I imagine to be the 
legal desiguation of this particular estate. 

' This was the case with Peterborough, Ely and other ancient foun- 
dations restored in the time of Eadgar. He himself says of Ely : " Nu 
wss se halga stede yfele forlstcn mid lussan I>e6wd6me t^onne ils ge- 
licode nu on urum timan, and eac waes gehwyrfed "Sani cynhige t^ 
handa, ic cwe'Se be me silfum." Cod. Dip. No. 563. 



it was not suspected how much the defences of 
the country might become impaired by grants of 
the kind. The passages aU-eady cited from Beda's 
epistle to Ecgberht may be adduced in corrobo- 
ration of these assertions, but we have more direct 
evidence in his history '. Oswiii oa his conver- 
sion placed his daughter E:mfl<ed in the convent 
presided over by Hild, and with her he gave 
twelve estates, " possessiunculae terrarum," most 
likely folcland, each estate comprising ten hides; 
in which, Beda continues, " Ablato studio militiae 
lerrestris, ad exercendain niilitiam coelestem locus 
facuitasque suppeteret," — or as the Saxon trans- 
lator expresses it, "Those twelve biSclands he freed 
from earthly warfare and earthly service, to be em- 
ployed in heavenly warfare." It is very clear that 
the duties of military service were removed in this 
case, and that religious waVfare was to be the des- 
tination of those that held the lauds. Similarly 
when Benedict Biscop decided upon devoting him- 
self to a monastic life, he surrendered his lands to 
the king*. These must obviously have been folc- 
land, the retaining of which he considered impos- 
sible, under the circumstances ; and which, not 
being his own, he could not take with him into a 
monastery : " despexit militiam cum corruptibili 
donativo terrestrem, ut vero regi militaret ; " and 
these words of Beda clearly show how we are 
to understand what he says of Oswiu's grant to 

• Bed. Vit. S«. Bencd. § 1. (Op. Minor, ii. HO.) 


The gaining of a hereditary character for lands, 
and especially the relief from heavy dues, were ad- 
vantages which might speedily arouse the avarice 
and stimulate the invention even of barbarians. 
Accordingly those who could gain access to the ear 
of the king and his witau, bought, or begged or ex- 
torted grants of privileged land, which they either 
converted entirely into private estates, or upon 
which they erected monasteries, nominally such : 
and over these, which they filled with irregular and 
often profligate monks, they assumed the jurilsdie- 
tion of abbots ; with such little advantage to the 
service of religion, that we have seen Beda describe 
them as a public scandal, and recommend even 
the desperate remedy of cancelling, by royal and 
episcopal authority, the privilegia or charters on 
which their immunities reposed. 

To the growing prevalence of this fraud we pro- 
bably owe it that, at least in Wessex, the custom 
arose of confiscating land on which the conditions 
of the grant had not been fulfilled. Thus Ini called 
in the lands which Cissa had granted to Hean the 
abbot and Cille the abbess, his sister, because no 
religious buildings had been erected thereon : " Sed 
Ini rex eandem terram, postea dum regno potire- 
tur, diripiens ac reipublicae restituit, nondum con- 
structo monasterio in ea, nee uUo admodum ora- 
torio erecto*;" that is, as I understand it, folcland 
they had been, and folcland they again became. But 
even this did not meet all the exigencies of the case, 

» Co<l. Dipl. No. 46. 


and it therefore probably became necessary, even 
in bocland granted to the ciiurch, to reserve the 
miUtary and otber services, which the clerf^y couhl 
cause to be performed by their own dependent culti- 
vators or tenants, even if they were not compelled 
to serve themselves, — a point which is by no means 

A majority uf the documents contained in the 
Codex Diplomaticus JEvi Saxonici are conversions 
of folcland into bocland, or confirmations of such 
conversions. They almost uoiversally contain a 
clause declaring or proclaiming — such is the tech- 
nical word for this important public act, by which 
prince and king, ealdorman and sheriff, were at 
once made strangers to the land — the estate free 
from every burthen save the inevitable three ; a 
clause giving the fullest hereditary possession, and 
the power to dispose of it by will at the testator's 
pleasure ; and finally a clause stating that this is 
done by the authority of the king, with the advice, 
consent and license of his Witan or counsellors. 
They remain therefore to the last important public 
I acts, and are, I believe universally, to be considered 
acts of the assembled Witena-gemot or great coun- 
cil of the nation*. And as by their authority folc- 
land could be converted into bocland, so it appears 
could the reverse take place ; and a change in the 
nature of two estates is recorded^, where the king 

' " Quam videlicet tcrrftin Alhnmndus ahbns, expeditionem mibUr- 
fngieni, mihi TeconLiliationia gratia ilabat." Cod. Dipl. No. ICl. 

* See hereafter the t-haiitiT viliicli treats of the Witau and their 
powcn. Book ii. ch. 6. 

* Cod. Di|>I. No. i^l. 

VOL. I. X 

306 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

gave five ploughlands of folcland for five of bdcland, 
and then made the folcland bdcland, the bocland 

In this general spoliation it is to be supposed that 
the kings would not omit to share : accordingly we 
find them causing estates to be booked to them by 
their witan ; which estates, when thus become their 
private and heritable property, they devise and deal 
with at their pleasure : and indeed, as the king's 
consent was necessary to all such conversions, be 
was much better able to obtain that of his witan in 
his own case, than bishops, thanes or others were 
in their cases : these generally found themselves 
compelled to pay handsomely for the favour they 
required. With respect to ecclesiastical lands, we 
frequently find a loss of very large estates sub- 
mitted to, in order to secure freedom to what re- 
mained. There are also a few instances in which 
lands having descended, encumbered with pay- 
ments, the owners engage some powerful noble or 
ecclesiastic to obtain their freedom, — that is, to per- 
suade the witan into abolishing the charges. The 
gratuity oftfered to the member whose infiuence was 
to carry these ancient private acts of parUament, is 
often very considerable. Towards the closing pe- 
riod of the Anglosaxon poHty, I should imagine 
that nearly every acre of land in England had be- 
come bocland ; and that as, in consequence of this, 
there was no more room for the expansion of a free 
population, the condition of the freemen became de- 
pressed, while the estates of the lords increased in 
number and extent. In this way the ceorlas or free 

ca. XI,] 


cultivators gradually vanished, yielding to the ever 
growing force of the noble class, accepting a de- 
pendent position upon their bdcland, and standing 
to right in their courts, instead of their own old 
county gemotas ; while the lords themselves ran 
riot, dealt with their once free neighbours at their 
own discretion, and filled the land with civil dis- 
sensions which not even the terrors of foreign inva- 
aioD could still. Nothing can be more clear than 
that the universal breaking up of society in the time 
of ^iESelred had its source in the ruin of the old 
free organization of the country. The successes of 
Swegen andCnut, and even of William the Norman, 
had much deeper causes than the mere gain or toss 
of one or more battles. A nation never falls till 
" the citadel of its moral being " has been betrayed 
and become untenable. Northern invasions will 
not account for tlie state of brigandage which 
.^Selred and iiis VVitan deplore in so many of their 
laws. The ruin of the free cultivators and the 
overgrowth of the lords are much more hkely 
causes. At the sarae time it is even conceivable 
that, but for the invasions of the ninth and tenth 
centuries, the result which I have described might 
have come upon us more suddenly. The sword 
and the torch, plague, pestilence and famine are 
very effectual checks to the growth of population, 
and sufficient for a long time to adjust the balance 
between the land and those it has to feed. 

An estate of bucland might be subject to condi- 
tions. It was perhaps not always easy to obtain 
from the Witan all that avarice desired : accordingly 
X 2 

:«13 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

we sometimes find limitations in grants, to a cer- 
tain number of lives with reminders and reversions. 
And it was both law and custom not only that the 
first acquirer might impose what conditions he 
pleased upon the descent of the estate , but that to 
all time his expressed will in that respect should 
bind those who derived their title from him^ Al- 
fred requires his Witan, who are the guarantees 
and administrators of his will, to see that he has 
not violated the disposition of his ancestors by 
leaving lands to women which had been entailed 
on the male line, and rice versd^ ; and we have 
cases of grants solemnly avoided for like want of 
conformity. More questionable in point of prin- 
ciple is the right attempted to be set up by some 
of these purchasers, to bar escheat and forf(d- 
ture of the land upon felony of their heirs or- devi- 

It is to be presumed that a tenant of folcland 
was permitted to let the same, — upon condition no 
doubt that he conveyed no estate superior to his 
own. The holders must have been allowed to place 
poor settlers upon their estates, whose rents and 
services, in labour and kind, would be important 
to their own subsistence. Of course in bdcland no 
limitation could be thought of; it was the absolute, 
inheritable property of the purchaser, and he could 
in general dispose of it as freely as if it were alod 
itself. But there seems no reason to doubt that 
much the same course was adopted in both descrip- 

Ll. JE\(t. § 41. » Cod. Dipl. No. 314. 


tions ot' estate ; the folclaiul being held beyond ques- 
tion for term of life, at every period of which our 
history takes cognizance, whatever may have been 
the case at tirst. A portion called the inland, or do- 
minium, demesne, was reserved for the lord's home- 
stead, house and farms, and the dwellings of his serfs, 
esnes, Isets, and other unfree and poor dependents. 
This was cultivated for him by their industry, and 
he repaid their services by protection, food, clo- 
thing, and sraall perquisites, all of which now pass 
under the general name of wages'. On the upland 
and in the forests, sometimes his own, sometimes 
subject only to his rights of common, they tended 
bis sheep, oxen and steeds ;it the fold, or his swine 
in the mast, lying out during the appointed season 
of the year*, or within the circuit of his own inclo- 
sures they exercised such simple manufactures as 
the necessities of the household required. The spin- 
ner and weaver, the glove- or shoemaker, the smith 
and carpenter, were all parts of the family. The 
butter and cheese, bread and bacon, were made at 
home ; the beer was brewed and the honey collected 

' Wages of course need nut compiisc money, or l>e the result of a 
compact betiveen free pai-ties. We \>»y a slave irages, ttioiigh no petin^ 
fte. It is a ilitfereot question whether it is advisable that lalwurent 
•hoold be slaves: the AnglosaxoDs luid their [teeuliar views on that 
Miti}ect, nhicb we are not to ilisrusa now. 

' "Alio quoque temiiore, in adolescentia sua, duiu aillme esset in 
populan vita, qiiando in mootanis iuxta tEuvium, quod dieitur Leder, 
cum aliia pasloi'ibus, pccors Jomini lui pasccbat," etc. Anon. Culfberbt, 
cap. 8. {Beda, Op. Min. ii. 2I>2.) " Contigit eum remotis iu montibu* 
conunissoTum aibi pecorum agerc cuitodiain." BeiU, CnSb. e, 4. Op. 
Uin. ii. 55. The llungariaa ijslas on the PiisU is much the same 
itiung, M the present ilny. 

310 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

by the household. The remainder of the land the 
owner leased on various conditions to men who 
had no land ; demanding in return for that com* 
modity, indispensable in a country which has not 
yet learnt to manufacturCi rents paid in kind, in 
labour, and even in money. This labour-rent, yet 
called robot in Slavonic countries, as well as the 
other dues, naturally varied in various districts, 
partly with the importance of land^ to the culti- 
vator, and the value of its produce to the owner. 
And at last political motives may have had some 
weight, when the number and condition of a man's 
dependents might affect his own influence and po- 
sition in the state : but in general we shall be justi- 
fied in saying that land was very valuable, and the 
conditions on which it was to be obtained harsh and 
onerous^. Such land, whether in large or in small 
portions, whether leased on long or short terms, 
large or small rents, was called by the common 
name of Lirn, or loan*. It was considered to be 
lent ; and where the laen was on folcland, it is ob- 

* The Rectitudines Singularuin Personarum infonn us that they 
were very different in different places, which necessarily would be the 
ease. We can imagine that a butsecarl or fisherman of Kent was not 
MO anxious to have a holding as a peasant in Gloucestershire. 

* Even in the eighth eenturj' Ini found it necessarj- to enact, that if 
a man took land on condition of gafol or produce-rent, and his lord 
endeavoured to raise his rent also to service, he need not abide bv the 
bargain, ludess the lord would build him a house : and he was in such 
a case, not to lose the crop he had prepared. Ini, § 67- Thorj>e, i. 146. 

^ The transitory possessions of this life were often so described, in 
reference to the Almighty : •' '6'a lulita ^'e him God ala'ned hflcfS." Cod. 
Dipl. No. CM. A Itcn for life, even though guarded by a verj- detailed 
boo or charter, is distinctly called beneficium by the grantee, J&5elbald 
of Wessex. Cod. Dipl. No. 1058. 

OK. XI.] 


vious that no certain time could be assigned, and 
that the after-tenant could have only a tenancy at 
will. In any case it was reasonable that miscon- 
duct in the holder, which would have entailed upon 
him the forfeiture of his own real property, should 
not be permitted to interfere with the rights of the 
reversioner ; lienland therefore could not be taken 
from the owner, for the crime of the tenant. In the 
year 900 a certain Helmstan was guilty of theft, and 
the eheriti' seized all his chattels to the king : and 
OrdUf entered upon the land, " because it was his 
Itcn that Helmstan sat on : that he could not for- 
feit'." A similar principle prevailed in grants for 
lives, especially where ecclesiastical corporations 
were tlie grantors and reversioners; and which, 
though to a certain extent they conveyed estates 
of bicland, gave, strictly speaking, Ifen or bene- 
ficiary tenures^. But as the clergy were not always 
quite sure of meeting with fair treatment, we find 
them not unfrequently introducing into their instru- 
ments a provision that no forfeiture shall be valid 
against their rights ; this, from the great strictness 
with which the provisions of a book or charter were 
always construed, and in general from the fear of 
violating what had been confirmed by the signature 
of the cross and the threat of eternal punishment, 
may have had some ettect. In such cases it may 

' Cod. Dipi. No. 32a. 

* Thus EalhfriS bishop of Wjncheiter (ft?!-?/?) making a grant for 
livM to duke CtiEred, properly calls it n lica : " EalftrS -] Ca higan hab- 
' b^t! gebened," etc. Cod. Dipl. No. 1062. They reserved ecclesiastical, 
' but no tecular duea. 

312 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

be presumed that the guilt of the grantee entirely 
cancelled the grant ; the remaining lives, if any, lo- 
sing the advantage which they derived through the 
grantee ; forfeiture really taking effect, bat for the 
benefit of the grantor, not the civil power*. The 
tenant of Isenland, who by his services acquired 
the good will of the lord, might hope to have his 
tenure improved, if not into an absolute possession 
of bocland, yet into one for his own or more lives. 
In a translation of St. Augustine of Hippo's Soli- 
loquia, attributed like so many other things to iBl- 
fred of Wessex, there occurs this passage^ : 

'^ But it pleaseth every man, when he hath built 
himself some cottage upon his lord's Isen, with his 
assistance, for a while to take up his rest thereon, 
and hunt, and fowl and fish, and in divers ways 
provide for himself upon the Isen, both by sea and 

' Oswald's grants generally contain a special clause to that effect : sec 
Cod. Dipl. Noa.494, 495, 506, 507, 509, 511, 529, 531, 538, 640, 552. 

' MS. Cott. Vitel. A. xv. fol. 2. " Ac selcne man lyst, si^an he 
senig cotlif on his hlafordes keue mid his fultume getimbred hsfS, 'S«t 
he hinc mote hwilum Secron gcrestan, 'j huntigan, 'j fuglian ^ fiscan, 
*j his on gehwylicwisan to Ssere Iscnan tilian, scg'Ser ge on sie ge on 
laude, oM oS t^one fyrst he he bocland *j ece yrfe |>urb his hlafordes 
miltsc ge-eaniigc." Whether land so put out was called eaminglaud, 
I will not afHrni ; but at the close of a grant for three lives I Und this 
memorandum : " Two of the Hves have fallen in ; then Eadwulf took 
it, and granted it to whomsoever he would as eamingland." Cod. Dipt 
No. 679. Cotlif seems in other passages to denote small estates not 
necessarily on lacn. The Saxon Chronicle, an. 963, for example uses 
that term of the lands which y£'5elwold gave to Ely, after purchaang 
them of the king. This it is clear he could not have done, had they 
been on any person's Ijcn. Were they not perhaps settlements of un- 
licensed squatters who had built their cottages on the king's waste and 
deserted lands — the old Mark — in the isle of Ely and Cambridgeshire? 
But again the Chronicle, an. 1001, speaks of the hdm or vill at Walt- 
ham, and many other cotli/s. 



land, until the time when by Ins lord's coiupaseioa 
he can earn a bocland and eternal inheritance." 

And instances occur in more tbrmal docuinentci. 
In 977, Oswald, Archbishop of York and Bishop 
of Worcester, made a i;rant of three hides at Ted- 
dington, for three lives, to Eadric his thane, witli re- 
version to Worcester: " Now there are three bides 
of this land whicli Archbishop Oswald hooketh to 
Eadric his thane, both near town and from town, 
even as he before held them as Irenland'." 

In another grant of the same prelate, between 
972-992, made to his client ^Ifsige, of a dwelling 
in Worcester city, for three lives, he adds, "Also 
we write for book] to him the crolt appurtenant to 
that tenement, which lies to the east of Wulfsige's 
croft ; that he may hold it in as large measure, for 
bocland, as he before held it for lienland'." 

In 977, the same convent at Worcester hooked 
three hides for three lives to the monk Wynslge, 
even as his father had held them^; and in 978-992, 
they gave to Goding the priest, also for three lives, 
the tenement which he himself bad without the city 
gate*. In both these cases la-n appears to have 
been converted into estate for successive lives. 

Where there was t;en, there could properly be no 
book, because the possession of the charter itself 
■was privm facie evideuce (indeed nearly conclusive 
evidence) in favour of the holder. Hence, where 
from any circumstance the books were withheld, 
the tenant had only a l<en : this was the case with 

' Cod.DipI.No».(H7, (iol. - Ibid. No. G7!>. 

* Ibid. No. 616. ' Ibiil. No. 6Ki. 

314 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

Helmstan's estates mentioned above : he had depo- 
sited his charters with Ordlaf as a security on an 
occasion when this duke helped him to make oath 
to some property. On Helmstan's felony, Ordl^ 
seized the land to himself, and the document from 
which we learn this is obviously his appeal to Al- 
fred's son and successor, against an attempt to dis- 
turb Helmstdn's original title, under a judgement 
given by -Alfred. Nor was it unusual for books to 
be thus retained as securities, by which the tenant 
having only a laen could be evicted, if not at plea- 
sure, at least by legal process ^ And the same re- 
marks apply to a very common mode of disposing 
of estates, where the clergy were grantees. Either 
to avoid litigation with justly exasperated heirs, 
or to escape from the commands of various synods, 
the clergy used to take deeds of gift from living 
tenants, impounding the books of course, and lea- 
ving the life-interest only to the owner. Such an 
estate in technical Latin was named praestaria ; but 
it was obviously a laen, and was generally charged 
with recognitory payments*. 

It may not be uninteresting, before I close this 
chapter, to give some examples of the gafol or rent 
paid upon lands whether held for lives, or as, more 
strictly, l^enland. They are extremely valuable from 
the insight they give into the details of social life, 
and the daily habits of our forefathers. 

^ See the case of the estate at Cowling, in the trial between Queen 
Eadgyfu and Goda. Cod. Dipl. No. 499. 

' Examples pf this arc found in Cod. Dipl. Nos. 429, 754, 1351, 
1354, § 6. 

CH. XI.] L-E-NLAND. 315 

Twenty hides of land at Sempringham were 
leased by Peterborough to WultVed for two lives, 
on condition of his getting its freedom, and that 
of Sieaford (both in Lincolnshire) : upon this estate 
the following yearly rent was reserved. First, to 
the monastery : two tons of bright ale. two oxen, 
fit for slaughter, two niHtan or measures of Welsh 
ale, and six hundred loaves. Secondly to the ab- 
bot's private estate : one horse, thirty shillings of 
silver or half a pound, one night's pastiis, fifteen 
mittan of bright and five of Welsh ale, fifteen «c«- 
ters of mild ale'. 

A little earlier, Oswulf, a duke in Kent, devised 
lands to Christchurch Canterbury, which he charged 
with annual doles to the poor upon his anniver- 
sary. Forty hides at Stanhampstead were to find, 
one hundred and twenty loaves of wheat, thirty 
loaves of fine wheat', one fat ox and four sheep, 
two flitches of bacon, five geese, ten hens, and ten 
pounds of cheese. If it fell on a fast-day, however 
there was to be (instead of the meat) a wey of 
cheese, and lish, butter, eggs ad libitum. Moreover, 
thirty ambers of good Welsh ale, on the footing of 
fifleen mittan, and one mitta of honey {perhaps to 
make into a drink) or two of wine. From his laud 

' Cod. Dipl. No. 267. an. 852. The laittn and other meamrea are 
unknown. Homever the spsler of rarn wns one horae-lowl (Hen. Hunt, 
lib. vi. ui. 1(M4)] qvare. What he could cany, or what he could draw? 
In the middle of the eleventh century, the water of honey was thirty- 
two ounces. C.J. Dip). No. 950. 

* They are called eUan. These probably were made of flour passed 
oftener through the boulter. The common loaf bad no doubt still much 
bran in it, aud answered to our seconds. But it is probable that bread 
was generally made otryc. 

316 THE S^iXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

at Burnan were to issue one thousand loaves, and 
one thousand raised loaves or cakes ; and the monks 
themselves were to find one hundred and twenty 
more of the latter i. 

Werhard gave two juga or geoc of land to Can- 
terbury. The rent of one at Lambahdm was forty 
pensas (weys) of cheese, or an equivalent in lambs 
and wool ; the other, at Northwood, rendered one 
hundred and twenty measures, which the English 
call ambers, of salt^. 

Lufe, in 832, charged the inheritors and assigns 
of her land at Mundlingham, with the following 
yearly payment to Canterbury, for ever ; that is to 
say : Sixty ambers of malt, one hundred and fifty 
loaves, fifty white loaves, one hundred and twenty 
alms-loaves, one ox, one hog and four wethers, 
two weys of bacon and cheese, one mitta of honey, 
ten geese and twenty hens^. 

In 835, Abba, a reeve in Kent, charged his heirs 
with a yearly payment to Folkstone, of fifty ambers 
of malt, six ambers of grits (gruta?), three weys 
of bacon and cheese, four hundred loaves, one 
ox, and six sheep, besides an allowance or stipend 
in money to the priests'*. And Heregy^, his wife, 

^ Cod. Dipl. No. 226. an. 805-831 . The sufl-loaf which I have trans- 
lated raised, is I presume derived from the word sufflare, and was pro- 
bably carefully leavened. We unhappily have not the Anglosaxon re- 
ceijit for beer; but I presume the text implies that fifteen mittan, 
whatever they were, of malt were to go to the amber. Oswulf 's cha- 
racter for sjilcndid liberality will induce us to believe that he meant 
the monks to have an Audit ale of their own, as well as our worthy 
Fellows of Trinit}- College Cambridge. 

' Cod. Dipl. No. 220. an. 832. 

3 Ibid. No. 231. ^ Ibid. No. 235. 



further burthened lier land at Challock with pav- 
ments to Canterbury, amounting to : thirty ambers 
of ale, three hundred loaves, fiftv of them white, 
one wey of bacon and cheese, one old ox, four 
wethers, and one hog, or six wethers, six geese 
and ten hens, one sester of honey, one of butter, 
and one of salt ; and if her anniversary should fall 
in winter, she added thirty wax-lights'. 

In 902, Bishop Denewulf leased tifleen hides of 
church-land at Eblesburn to hia relative fJeornwulf 
for forty-five shillings :i year, with liberty to Beoni- 
wulf's children to continue the lease. One shilling 
(sixty of which went to the pound) is so very small 
a rent for ten acres, that we must either suppose 
the land to have been unusually bad, or Beornwulf's 
connection with the bishop much in his favour*. 
He was also to aid in cyricbot, and pay the cyric- 
sceat. Ahout the same time Denewulf leased forty 
hides at Alresford to one jElfred, at the old rent of 
three pounds per annum, or four shillings and a half 
per hide. He was however also to pay church-shot, 
the amount of which is not stated, and to do church- 
ahot-work, and find men to the bishop's reaping and 

Between 1101-909, king Eadweatd booked twenty 
bides of laud to Bishop Denewulf. The payments 
reserved have been already mentioned : instead of 
going to the king as gafol or rent, they were to 
be expended in an anniversary feast on founder's 

' Cml. Dipl. No. L>;i5. = llrnl. No. 1079. 

' Ibid. No. 11)86. In both cases tlie rent in railed gafol. 

318 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

day. I have already stated that this may be the 
old charge on folcland : it was a grant from the 
monks to the bishop, probably negotiated by Elad- 
weard. All parties were satisfied : the monks pro- 
bably got from the land as much as they could ex- 
pect from any other tenant, or what, if folcland, 
they would themselves have had to pay ; the bishop 
got the land into his own hands, to dispose of at his 
pleasure, and the king was rewarded for interven- 
tion with all the benefits to be derived on his anni- 
versary from the prayers of the grateful fathers at 

At the close of the ninth century, Werfri^ bishop 
of Worcester claimed land under the following cir- 
cumstances. Milred a previous bishop had granted 
an estate in Sopbury, on condition that it was to 
be always held by a clergyman, and never by a 
layman, and that if no clergyman could be found 
in the grantee's family, it should revert to the see. 
By degrees the family of the grantee established 
themselves in the possession, but without perform- 
ing the condition. At length WerfriS impleaded 
their chief EadnoS, who admitted the wrong and 
promised to find a clergyman. The family however 
all refused to enter into holv orders. Eadno^ then 
obtained the intercession of iESelred duke of Mer- 
cia, the ladv iESelflaed, and iE^elno^ duke of 
Somerset ; and by their persuasion, Werfri^ (in de- 
fiance of his predecessor's charter) sold the land to 
Eadnd^ for forty mancuses, reserving a yearly rent 
of fifteen shillings, and a vestment (or perhaps some 

CH. au.] L£'NLAND. 319 

kind of hanging) to be delivered at the episcopal 
manor of Tetbury * . 

Ealdwulf bishop of Worcester leased forty acres 
of land and a fishery for three lives to Leofena^, 
on condition that they delivered yearly fifteen sal- 
mon, and those good ones too, during the bishop's 
residence in Worcester, on Ashwednesday*. 

Eddric gafeled (gafelian), i. e. paid yearly rent or 
gafol for two hides with half a pound, or thirty shil- 
lings, and a gare^ a word I do not understands 

In 835, the Abbess Cyneware gave land to Hun- 
berht, a duke, on condition that he paid a gablum^ 
gafol or rent of three hundred shillings in lead 
yearly to Christchurch Canterbury*. 

The ceorlas or dependent freemen who were set- 
tled upon the land of Hurstbourn in the days of 
Alfred, had the following rents to pay ; many of 
these are labour rents, many arise out of the land 
itself, viz. are part of the produce. 

From each hide, at the autumnal equinox, forty 
pence. Further they were to pay, six church-mit- 
tan of ale, and three sesters or horseloads of white 
wheat. Out of their own time they were to plough 
three acres, and sow them with their own seed, to 
house the produce, to pay three pounds of gafol- 
barley, to mow half an acre of gafolmead and stack 
the hay, to split four fo^er or load of gafolwood 
and stack it, to make sixteen rods of gafolhedg- 

» Cod. Dipl. No. 327. 

' Ihid, No. 695. I have rendered " forme faestenei dieg" as if it were 
Caput jejunU, 
» Rid. No. 699. * Ibid. No. 1043. 

320 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

ing*. At Easter they were further to pay two ewes 
and lambs, two young sheep being held equivalent 
to one old one : these they were to wash and shear 
out of their own time. Lastly, every week they 
were to do any work which might be required of 
them, except during the three weeks, at Christmas, 
Easter and the Gangdays*. 

The following customs and payments are re- 
corded in various manors : some of the words I 
cannot translate. ** In Dyddanham there are thirty 
hides; nine of these are inland (demesne), twenty- 
one are let^. In Straet are twelve hides, twenty- 
seven yards of gafolland ; and on the Severn there 
are thirty cytweras*. In Middleton are five bides, 
fourteen yards of gafolland, fourteen cytweras on 
the Severn, and two haecweras on the Way. At 
Kingston there are five hides, thirteen yards of ga- 
folland, and one hide above the ditch which is now 
also gafolland, and that without the ham*, is still 
in part inland, in part let out on rent to the ship- 
wealas*^ : to Kingston belong twenty-one cytweras 
on the Severn, and twelve on the Wav. In Bi- 

* Gafolbafre, gafolmsed. gaibhvulu, gafoltuning. The Saxons knew 
well enough that aU these things were remt : and all land put out upon 
rent of anv kind was gafolland. galolciind or Qarelkimd land. 

« Coil. bipl. No. 1077. 

* Geset laud 1 have rendereil by set out or let : as land is afterwards 
said to be set to rent, to gafole gesett. 

* The cytweras and h»cweras were weirs or places for taking fish, 
but 1 cannot distinguish their nature. The names would induce i*ji to 
think the former were shapeii like a modem eel-trap, the latter were 
formed with a slat or hatch. 

* .Vn enclosure on the water. See Cod. DipL iii. p. xxrii. 
^ Welsh navigator». 

CH.xr.] L.*:NLA?JD. 331 

shopstiin are three hides, and fifteen cytweras on 
t!ie Way : in Lancawet are three hides, two hsec- 
weras on the Way, and two cytweras. 

"Throughout that land each yardland pays twelve 
jience, and four alms-pence : at every weir within the 
thirty hides, every second fisli belongs to the land- 
lord, besides every uncommon fish worth having, 
sturgeon or porpoise, herring or sea-fish ; and no 
one may sell any fish for money when the lord is 
on tiie land, until he have had notice of the same. 
In Dyddenham the services are very heavy. The 
geneat must work, on the land or oft' the land, as 
he is commanded, and ride and carry, lead load 
and drive drove, and do many things beside. The 
gebur must do his rights ; he must plough half an 
acre for weel<-work, and himself pay the seed in 
good condition into the lord's barn for ckurch'shoi, 
at all events from his own barn : towards werbold', 
forty large trees * or one load of rods ; or eight geocu 
build^, three ebban close : of field-enclosure fifteen 
rods, or let him ditch fifteen ; and let him ditch one 
rod of burg-enclosure ; reap an acre and a half, mow 
half an acre ; work at other works ever according 
to their nature. Liet him pay sixpence after Easter, 
half a sester of honey at Lammas, six sesters of 
malt at Martinmas, one clew of good net yarn. In 
the same land it is customary that he who hath 
seven swine shall give three, and so forth always 

' Werbold, the coDstruction of ibi: v 
' iittn, of large wood in opposition 
* Let him build eight yolifs in tl 
What these geocu and ebhiin arc, I can 
VOL. I. 

.'ir i)r pUct; for mtchiiig tiah, 
? neir, ami clo^w tincf- rbban. 

322 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

the tenth, and nevertheless pay for common of mast- 
ing, if mast there be^*' 

Unquestionably these are heavy dues, and much 
aggravated by the circumstances of the estate or 
yardland being but small, the tenant born free, and 
some of the services uncertain. I shall conclude this 
chapter with a few lines translated from that most 
valuable document called " Rectitudines singularum 
personarum* ;" as far as the cases of the Geneit, 
Cotsetla and Grebdr are concerned*. First of the 
Geneat or comrade. 

"The Genedt-right is various, according to the 
custom of the land. In some places he must pay 
landgafol, and a grass-swine yearly ; ride and carry, 
lead load ; work and feed his lord* ; reap and mow ; 
hew deer-hedge and hold s€dte^ ; build and enclose 
the burh [or mansion] ; make new roads to the 
farm ; pay church-shot and alms-fee ; hold head- 
ward and horse ward ; go on errand, far or near, 
whithersoever he is directed." This is compara- 
tively free, and it is only to be regretted that we 
do not know what amount of land in general could 
be obtained at such a rent. We next come to the 
Cotsetlan, whom iElfred in a passage already cited 
states to be on laenland, and w^ho are obviously poor 
freemen, suffered to settle on the lord's estate. 

**The Cotsettler's right is according to the cus- 
tom. In some places he must work for the lord, every 

' Co<l. Dipl. No. 461. « Thorpe, i. 432. 

' Tlic ancient Latin version calls them Villanus, Coisetle and Ocbur. 

< Feonnian, .^rmore; giye so much ns pastus. 

* Help to make park-paling, and perhaps keep wsteh for gune. 

I. ll.l LJ:NLAND. 323 

Monday throughout the year ; or three days every 
week in harvest ; he need pay no landgafol. He 
ought to have five acres ; more if it be the custom. 
And if it be less, it is all too little, for bis service 
is often called upon. He must pay his hearth-penny 
on holy Thursday' as it behoves every freeman to 
do ; and he must acquit^ his lord's inland, on sum- 
mons, at seaward and at the king's deer-hedge^ ; 
and at such things as are in his competence : and 
let him pay his church-shot at Martinmas. 

" The customs of the Gehiir are very various ; in 
Eome places they are heavy, but in some moderate. 
In some places it is usual that he shall do two days 
week-work, whatever work may be commanded him, 
every week throughout the year ; and three days 
week-work in harvest, and three from Candlemas 
to Easter. If he carries'*, he need not work him- 
self as long as his horse is out. He must pay at 
Michaelmas ten gafol-pence, and at Martinmas 
twenty-three sesters of barley, and two hens* ; at 

9 Dbt. Observe that Ibe Cotmtia i* diatinrtly uaertnl to 

* " Werip; his hUfuiHes," ete. ; that is, perform fat his lord, the 
doty of mnot-^ard, and attending the king's hnnt : from wbtrii it 
folloirs that, where there nas ni> speHal exemptiun. these lervieea eouhl 
lie deinaniled of the ton! : thnt is in case if folcland. The old Latin 
lmi*)«te« Berinti bj aci/iiietarr, whifh 1 have adapted. 

* Either in repairing the pHrk-jialmg, or in service (hiring the himt, 
' Aferian, anerian./nrir avrragiaia. avfrisl. 

* This seems an imincnse Bmonnt of barlev, but the ^axaa clearly 
reads ne I hare translated. The old Ijitin version hns, " Dare debet in 
festo Saneti Mirbaelis k. den. de gablo, et Ssncti Martini die nxiii et 
seMnriiim ordei et ii gallinas." Twenty-three penee at Martinnias is 
a considerable sum ; bowerer as a sester of eom must even in ordi- 
naiy yean have been worth quite that Bnm, it is more reasonable to 
follon the Latin than the Saxon. 


ti'Ji THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

Buster one young sheep or two pence ; and he shall 
He out from Martinmas till Easter at the lord's 
fold ^ ; and from the time when the plough is first 
put in till Martinmas, he shall plough one acre 
every week» and make ready the seed in the lord's 
barn : moreover three acres on request, and two of 
yrass-ploughing'*. If he require more grass, let him 
earn it on such conditions as he may. For his 
rent-ploughing [gafidyrV] he shall ploQ^ three 
acre$ and sow them from his own ham ; and pay his 

^ TW R4i) >»«» i^lWtt ilbnuM £raai ^e 

|B«r> ^ mmI ^y' WM> »li tlMit^ Mi tW utkk o£ hone wml 

•»yT N(c> xnt ititf tnui ^»«fat^:«f ^' tav* cacov ^ >* pttt* 

t* Ht*H 'ycv^f tuv "!*vur >.•• -nrmt&cssGctr * F>i«r 3ie xum tntatL, T^^bik 

vo* u n«m)C> :ux^' i^rtr^ tts<t:?iu n nit jr n nu 
«v*x>. 'J nil* K luttx'i >«ivuiu «£iur -milt; j r afci* i 
«Ni'«i!<'«<»<v» iv ni^« WH^ k i«c^iui %:fu :ti«f %mu Man smn. r ir 

^iit,%'* *<;v^ r»*«i tK :vaitn«:««ii-r«xK.«k n Tlr 

c\»*» K uvvx ^c tt(««e A*-^ KMT «l »J« & out 

heartli-penny ; and two and two shall feed one stag- 
hound ; and each gebur shall give six loaves to the 
inswiin [that is, the swain or swineherd of the de- 
mesne] when he drives Iiis herd to the mast. In 
the same land where these conditions prevail, the 
gebiir has a right, towards first stocking his land, 
to receive two oxen, one cow and six sheep, and 
seven acres in his yard otland, ready sown. After 
the first year let him do all the customs which be- 
long to him ; and he is to be supplied with tools for 
his work, and furniture I'or his house. When he 
dies, let his lord look after what he leaves. 

" This land-law prevails in some lands ; hut, as I 
have said, in some places it is heavier, in others 
lighter; seeing that the customs of all lauds are 
not alike. In some places the gcbiir must pay 
honey-gafol, in some meat-gafol, in some ale- 
gafol. Let him that holds the shire take heed to 
know always what is the old arrangement about 
the land, and what the custom of the country I " 

I can only add the expression of my o])inion, that 
a careful study of the condition of the peasantry in 
the eastern parts of Europe will assist in throwing 
much lifrht upon these ancient social arrangements 
in this country- Hard as in some respects the con- 
dition of the dependent freeman appears, it must 
be borne in mind that the possession of land was 
indispensably necessary to life, unless he was to be- 
come an absolute serf In a country that has httle 
more manufacture than the simple necessities of 
individual households require, no wealth of raw 
material, and conseqviently little commerce, — where 

326 THE SAXONS IX ENGLAND. [book i. 

households rejoice in a sort of self-supporting, self- 
sufficient autonomy y and the means of internal com- 
munication are imperfect, — laqd and its produce are 
the only wealth ; land is the only means whereby 
to live. But the Saxon peasant knew his position : 
it was a hard one, but he bore it : he worked early 
and late, but he worked cheerfully, and amidst all 
his toils there is no evidence of his ever having 
shot at his landlord from behind a stone wall or a 




An account of the Saxons which should entirely ex- 
clude the peculiarities of their heathendom, would 
be deficient in an important degree. Religion and 
law are too nearly allied, particularly in early pe- 
riods, for us to neglect either, in the consideration 
of national institutions. The immediate dependence 
of one upon the other we may not be able to show 
in satisfactory detail ; but we may be assured that 
the judicial forms are always in near connexion 
with the cult, and that this is especially the case at 
times when the judicial and priestly functions are 
in the hands of the same class. 

The Saxons were not without a system of reli- 
gion, long before they heard of Christianity, nor 
should we be justified in asserting that religion to 
have been without moral influence upon the indi- 
vidual man in his family and social relations. Who 
shall dare to say that the high -thought ed barbarian 
did not derive comfort in affliction, or support in 
difficulty, from the belief that the gods watched 
over him, — that he did not bend in gratitude for the 
blessings they conferred, — that he was not guided 
and directed in the daily business of life by the con- 

328 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

viction of bis responsibility to higher powers than 
any which he recognized in the world around him ? 
There has been, and yet is, religion without the 
pale of Christianity, however dim and meagre and 
unsatisfactory that religion may appear to us whom 
the mercy of God has blessed with the true light of 
the Gospel. Long before their conversion, all the 
Germanic nations had established polities and states 
upon an enduring basis, — upon principles which 
still form the groundwork and stablest foundation of 
the greatest empires of the world, — ^upon principles 
which, far from being abrogated by Christianity, 
harmonize with its purest precepts. They who 
think states accidental, and would eliminate Provi- 
dence from the world, may attempt to reconcile this 
truth with their doctrine of barbarism ; to us be it 
permitted to believe that, in the scheme of an all- 
wise and all-pervading mercy, one condition here 
below may be the fitting preparation for a higher ; 
and that even Paganism itself may sometimes be 
only as the twilight, through which the first rays of 
the morning sun are dimly descried in their pro- 
gress to the horizon. Without religion never was 
yet state founded, which could endure for ages; 
the permanence of our own is the most convincing 
proof of the strong foundations on which the mas- 
sive fabric, from the first, was reared. 

The business of this chapter is with the Heathen- 
dom of the Saxons ; not that portion of it which 
yet subsists among us in many of our most che- 
rished superstitions, some of which long lurked in 
the ritual of the unreformed church, and may yet 



lurk in the habits and belief of many Protestants ; 
but that which was the acknowledged creed of the 
Saxon, as it was of other Germanic populations; 
which once had priests and altars, a ritual and ce- 
remonies, temples and sacrifices, and all tlie pomp 
and power of a church-estublishment. 

The proper subjects of mythological inquiry are 
tlie gods and godlike heroes: it is through the lat- 
ter — for the most part, forms of the gods them- 
selves — that a race connects itself with the foruier. 
Among the nations of our race royalty is indeed 
iure divino, for tlie ruling families are in direct 
genealogical descent from divinity, and the posses- 
sion of Woden's blood was the indispensable con- 
dition of kingship. In our peculiar system, the 
vague records of Tuisco, the earth-born god', and 
Man, the origin and founders of the race, have 
vanished ; the mystical cosmogony of Scandinavia 
has left DO traces among iis^; but we have neverthe- 
less a mythological scheme which probably yielded 
neither in completeness nor imaginative power to 
those of the German or the Norwegian. 

In the following pages I propose to take into 
consideration, first the Gods and Goddesses, pro- 
perly so called : secondly, the Monsters or Titanic 
powers of our old creed : thirdly, the intermediate 

' " Ctlcbnuit ramiiuibui luitiquis Tuiscoiiem iteiiui tenft eilitum 

ct lilium Mauiium, originem geiitia cunititorcaqiie." Germ. ii. So nuag 
the earlieit Greeks : 

avriBtop hi niXairyoy rv v^utofioIfFU' optrrai 
yrua fuXatv' avtrjKtv ipa dvrtTay yivoK htj. 
- Tlicre ia no beUer Bccimnt of lliis (lian Gcijcr givus in liis History 
i>f Swciltn. vol. i. passim. 

a3(» THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

and as it were ministerial beings : and lastly the god* 
bom and heroic personages of the epopoea. 

The prudence or the contempt of the earUest 
Saxon Christians has left but sparing record of 
what Augustine and his brother missionaries over* 
threw. Incidental notices indeed are all that re- 
main in any part of Teutonic Europe ; and on the 
continent, as well as in England, it is only by the 
collation of minute and isolated facts, — often pre- 
served to us in popular superstitions, legends and 
even nursery tales, — that we can render probable 
the prevalence of a religious beUef identical in its 
most characteristic features with that which we 
know to have been entertained in Scandinavia. Yet 
whatsoever we can thus recover, proves that, in all 
main points, the faith of the island Saxons was that 
of their continental brethren. 

It will readily be supposed that the task of de- 
monstrating this is not easy. The early period 
at which Christianity triumphed in England, adds 
to the difficulties which naturally beset the sub- 
ject. Norway, Sweden and Denmark had entered 
into public relations with the rest of Europe, long 
before the downfall of their ancient creed : here, 
the fall of heathendom and the commencement of 
history were contemporaneous: we too had no 
Iceland * to offer a refuge to those who fled from 
the violent course of a conversion, preached sword 

' Thus was Iceland colonized, by men who would neither relinquish 
their old belief, nor submit to the growing }X)wer of a king. The Old- 
saxons had no such place of rcfiige, and the arms of Charlemagne pre- 
vailed to destroy their national independence and their religion together. 


in hand, and coupled with the loss of potitical inde- 
pendeace ; still the progress of the new faith seems 
to have been on the whole easy and continuous 
amongst us ; and though apostasy was frequent, 
history either had no serious struggle to record, or 
has wisely and prudently concealed it. 

In dealing with this subject, we can expect but 
little aid from the usual sources of information. 
The early chroniclers who lived in times when hea- 
thendom was even less extinct than it now is, and 
before it had learnt to hide itself under borrowed 
uames, would have shrunk with horror from the 
mention of what, to themj was an execrable im- 
piety: many of them could have possessed no 
knowledge of details which to us would be invalua- 
ble, and no desire to become acquainted with them : 
the whole business of their life, on the contrary, was 
to destroy the very remembrance that such things 
had been, to avoid everything that could recall the 
past, or remind their half-converted neophytes of 
the creed which they and their forefathers had held. 
It is obvious that, under such circumstances, the 
greater and more powerful the God, the more dan- 
gerous would he continue to he, the more sedu- 
lously would all mention of him be avoided by 
those who had relinquished his service or overthrown 
his altars. But though this may be the case with 
the principal deities, there are others whose power, 
though unacknowledged, is likely to he more per- 
manent. Lung after the formal renunciation of 
a public and national paganism, the family and 
household gods retain a certain habitual influence. 


and continue— often under other names, naj per- 
haps engrafted on another creed — to iafarm the 
daily life of a people who are still nnooabCMiiulj 
acted upon by ancient national feelings. A qieil or 
a popular superstition may yet recaD some traces of 
the old belief, even as the heathen temple, when 
purified with holy water and dedicated in another 
name, retained the holiness which had at first been 
attached to the site of its foundation. 

What Pkulus Diaconus, Jonas i^ Bobbio, Jor- 
nandes, Adam of Bremen, Alcuin, Widuldnd, and 
the monks of St. Gall, assert i^ other Gennan 
races, Beda asserts of .the Ang^osaxons also, viz. 
that they worshiped idols ^ tcbla, simmlmara ifeo- 
rmm ; and this he affirms not only upon the autho- 
rity of his general infiNnmants and of unbroken 
tradition, but of Gr^ory himself. Upon the same 
authority also be tells us that the heathen were 
wont to sacrifice many oxen to their gods*. To 

' \rhat Taoms says of the Gcrmaiis Germ, ix.) not haTiii^ temples 
or inuige^ is to be taken wnh great cantkni. It ts dear from otho' 
passages of his own wofk diat some tiibes had sach, erai in his time ; 
\Tet if rare then^ ther may easahr hare become imiT«r<«l in the eoime 
of two or thiYe oentuiies, parbcnlaziT among tbo^ uibes whom mili- 
tary soricr or commerce had gradnafly rendered famitiar with the re- 
lurious nt^ of Rome. 

* "Hiese £•«* are suted in a kxier fiom Gregoiy to Ifdlitus, in the 
following word^ : *' Cum ew» l>eBs omnipoirens vos ad pp^fTr n try«P""«" 
\irum fratnem nostnun Augnstinnm epifscopom perdnxcnt, dicite ei quid 
diw mcmm de causa .\jQgkinim cc^riians tractavi. Tidelirct, quia fima 
idokvnim dcstrui in eadem gente minime debeant ; aed ipsa, quae in eU 
Minu idola dcsiTuanrar. aqua benedicta fiau in eisdem fimis aspcrgatur, 
«ltana construantiir. rebqniae ponantur. Quia, si £uia eadem bene 
c^Hisctructa sunt, nccc^s^e est u: a cuhn daemonum in obaeqnium veri 
IVj dcbcant commntan ; ui dnm gens ipsa esdem iana sua non ridet 
tW«iToi, de corde ernvrm depouo, cs Ucsn Tenim cognoscens «c 

CH. SlI.] 



Beda himself we owe the information that HrelSe 
and Eostre, two Saxon goddesses, gave their names 
to two of the months ; that at a certain season cat- 
tle were vowed, and at another season cakes were 
oflered to the gods'. From him also we learn that 
upon the death of Sibeorht in Essex, his sons re- 
stored the worship of idols in that kingdom* ; that 
Eadwini of Northumberland offered thanks to his 
deities for the safe delivery of his queen" ; that 
Riedwald of Eastangha sacriticed victims to his 
gods* ; that, on occasion of a severe pestilence, the 
people of Essex apostatized and returned to their 
ancient worship*, till reconverted by Gearoman, 
under whose teaching they destroyed or deserted 
the fanes and altars they had made ; that incan- 
tations and spells were used against sickness" ; 
that certain runic charms were believed capable of 
breaking the bonds of the captive' ; that Eorcen- 
berht of Kent was the first who completely put 
down heathendom in his kingdom, and destroyed 

HiiorajM ad locu, quae rousucvit, fiimiliafiua eoiiciirntt. Et quia bovci 
Kolciit in iarrilirio diiemouuni multoa orculcri', ili-bet eia etiam liae de 
re oliqun sotemnitaa imniutari ; lit die dedicationis, ve\ nstiditii sancto- 
r«m martyrum, r,norum illic reliquiae jHiDuntur, tabernaeiila lil 
eaadem aercleiiaa, quae ex fanis commulaUe sunt, de 
rociant, et religioMi conviviis solemnitatem celcbrent, nee diaboli> iam 
uiiiDBlia immolcnt, leil ad laudein Dl^i iti esu suo animalia occidant, et 
donatori oniniutu de aatietatc sua gratias refcrant ; iit duiii els aliqua 
esteriiis gavidia reservantur, iid intpriora gniidiii consentiru facilius ya- 
leaol." Bed. H. E, i. 30. 

' De Natura Rcrum, cap. 15. 

» U. E. ii. i). 

' " Coe|Tt;mnt faua, quae derelitta erai: 
miiluuv; quasi per hnee possciiC a mortuti 
II. E. iv. -27. 

11. E. 11. 5. 
II. E. ii. 15. 

adonuv ai- 
defeiidi." H. E. iii. 30. 
' II. E. iv. 22. 

334 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

the idols ^ ; lastly that at the court of Eddwini of 
Northumberland there was a chief-priest^, and, as 
we may naturally infer from this, an organized 
heathen hierarchy. 

The poenitentials of the church and the acts of 
the witena-gem6ts are full of prohibitions directed 
against the open or secret practice of heathendom^ ; 
from them we learn that even till the time of Cnut, 
well-worship and tree-worship, the sanctification 
of places, spells, philtres and witchcraft, were still 
common enough to call for legislative interference ; 
and the heavy doom of banishment, proclaimed 
against their upholders, proves how deeply rooted 
such pagan customs were in the minds of the peo- 
ple. Still in the Ecclesiastical History of Beda, in 
the various works which in later times were founded 
upon it and continued it, in the poenitentials and 
confessionals of the church, in the acts of the se- 
cular assemblies, we look in vain for the sacred 
names in which the fanes were consecrated, or for 
even the slightest hint of the attributes of the gods 
whose idols or images had been set up. Excepting 
the cursory mention of the two female divinities al- 
ready noticed, and one or two almost equally rapid 
allusions in later chronicles, we are left almost en- 
tirely without direct information respecting the 
tenants of the Saxon Pantheon. There are however 
other authorities, founded on traditions more au- 

* II. E. iii. 8. Malmsburv says that be destroyed also their chapels, 
"ssacelUi deorum." De Gest. hb. i. § 11. 

' H. E. ii. 13. 

* See these collected in the Appendix at the end of this Tolume. 


cient than Beda hiraselt', from which we derive more 
copious, if not more definite, accounts. First among 
these are the genealogies of the Anglosaxon kings : 
these contain a multitude of the ancient goda, re- 
duced indeed into family relations, and entered in 
the grades of a pedigree, but sliil capable of identi- 
6cation with the deities of the North and of Ger- 
many. In this relation we find Woden, Baeldieg, 
Geat, Wig, and Frea. The days of the week, also de- 
dicated to gods, supply us further with the names of 
Tiw, £)unor, Fricge and Sjetere ; and the names of 
places in al! parts of England attest the wide di- 
spersion of their worship. These, as well as the 
names of plants, are the admitted signs by which 
we recognize the appellations of the Teutonic gods. 

1. WO'DEN, in Old-norse OpINN, in Old-ger- 
man WUOTAN. — The royal family of every An- 
glosaxon kingdom, without exception, traces its 
descent from Woden through some one or other of 
those heroes or demigods who are familiar to us 
in the German and Scandinavian traditions'. But 

' Ri^er of Wendover appears however to have made n ilistinction. 
which I do not remember to have FoudiI in any other author, in the 
ewe of £lli of Sussex. He sayii " Wodenus ig:ttur ex antiqaoruin 
pmaapia Germanorum origiaein duc«iu, post mnrtein inter deoi tronf 
latus tat; quern veterei pro deo colentes, de<UraTemnt el qnartam fr< 
riam, tiiiam dc nomine eins Wodenesday. id eat diem Wodeni. nuncu- 
panint. Uic liabuit nxorein, nomine Frcam, cui aimiliter veterea 
■extsm reriam coniecrantes, Freda;, id est diem Fren, appelUrunt. 
Uenuit Butem Wodcnua e\ uxorc Frea ie]«cm tilioa isclyloi, ex qaorum 
mccenione scptem regcs traxerunt originem, qui in Britannia polcnicr, 
eipuUis Britaunia, poatea regnnTCmnt. Ex Slio Wodeni primogmito, 
nomine Wed*, reftcs CBUtuariorum ; ex «etundo, Frebeitealh, r^es 
Merdorum; ex tertio, Baldao, regea Wcataaxonum; ex qtmiio, Bel- 


i\w divinity of W(Sden is abundantly clear: he is 
both in form utid in fact identical with the Norse 
())^inn and the (rerman Wuotan> the supreme god 
of all tbo northern races, whose divinity none will 
nttt>m|)t to disputed Nor was this his character 
unknown to our early chroniclers; Alalmsbury, 
upoukin^ of I longest and Hors, says : " They were 
tho groat^roat-gnxndsons of that most ancient W6- 
i\f>\\, fixnu whom the roval families of almost all 
tho U^irl^^rtnis nations derive their lineage ; whom 
th«^ uutit>n$ t4^ the Anssrles madlv beliering to be a 
^hU h^Yt^ cou:ii^«t.*inited unto him the fourth day of 
tht^ wwk* and the sixth unto his wife Frea, by a 
?MfciH^K?^ whk^h Ui^t* e^'en unto this day*/' Mai- 
th<^w i>t^ NVi^miuster^ and Geoffiry of Moonumth-* 
lit^HNit tKW with ciianK'iiffktic rariatioQSw boCli add- 
i^s ^|^|vi^r^ntly in the words of Tacitus'. " Co&iniK 
Hu-ivtUK' M^^rv^unauK v^uem Wouea lin.^ni luoecra 

m^u s.^ tv>jLt ^kxv. jina cttU2:^ himsijit a iesceni- 

jtitvc l-K 'uc>a;oa ^i ii5> O'Vti i^, — die rfcsci u'tja- 

,.v >«,i/iF\Ut«iv>« SftA.'««M, ^■jc*^ %,*rn; »i4a*iitm Sk^^ouum irrg o rfn. msMfr- Jr 

II »^ * •K*.»*,wt«i;«v .t tK. .*lu««»Ar!>« 'Mj ami tsc Tiisrti T 210 
.*«,tM% c». *»iMwi. % »rwfc>.v. -x -<rx^^ft\ ulr. ur tituir. ». wui:' Jtearr 


tury ; he says of Hengest and Hors : ''Hi nepotes 
fuere Uuoddan regis barbarorum, quern post, in- 
fanda dignitate, ut deuin honorantes, sacrificium 
obtulerunt pagani, victoriae' causa sive virtutis*." 
Again, he says : '* Wothen, qui et rex multarum gen- 
tium, quern pagani nunc ut deum colunt aliqui." 
Thus, according to him, Wdden was worshiped as 
the giver of victory, and as the god of warlike va- 
lour. And such is the description given by Adam 
of Bremen of the same god, at Upsala in Sweden : 
" In hoc templo, quod totum ex auro paratum est, 
statuas trium deorum veneratur populus, ita ut 
potentissimus eorum Thor in medio solum habeat 
triclinium, hinc et inde locum possident W6dan 
et Fricco. Quorum significationes eiusmodi sunt : 
Thor, inquiunt, praesidet in acre, qui tonitrus et 
fulmina, ventos imbresque, serena et fruges gu- 
bernat. Alter W6dan, id est Fortior^ bella regit, 
hominumque ministrat virtutem contra inimicos. 
Tertius est Fricco, pacem voluptatemque largiens 
mortalibus. Cuius etiam simulachrum fingunt in- 
genti Priapo. W6danem vero sculpunt armatum, 
sicuti nostri Martem sculpere solent. Thdr auteni 
cum sceptro Jovem exprimere videtur." The Ex- 
eter book names Wdden in a similar spirit : 

Hs^iSnum synne 
W<5den worhte weohs, 
wuldor alwealda 
rdme roderasS 

that is, " For the heathen Woden wrought the sin 

* .£Selw. Chron. lib. 11. cap. 2. ' Cod. Exon. p. 341. 

VOL. I. Z 

338 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of idolatry, but the glorious almighty God the 
spacious skies:" and an early missionary is de- 
scribed to have thus taught his hearers : " W6den 
vero quern principalem deum crediderunt et prae- 
cipuum Angli, de quo originem duxerant, cui et 
quartam feriam consecraverant. hominem fuisse 
mortalem asseruit, et regem Saxonum, a quo plures 
nationes genus duxerant. Huius, inquit, corpore in 
pulverem resoluto, anima in inferno sepulta aeter- 
num sustinet ignem\" 

To Woden was dedicated the fourth or mid-day 
ol* the week, and it still retains his name : this 
among other circumstances tends to the identifi- 
cation of him with Mercurius^. The Old-norse 
Runatale yitir which introduces O^n declaring 
himself to be the inventor of runes.^, is confirmed 
by the assertion in the dialogue of Salomon and 
S;\tunu which to the question '' Who invented let- 
ters ? ' answeni. ' 1 leli thee. Mercury the iiant"' — 
that is. ^* Wi^xten the i^ovi :'' and this is further evi- 

' r^*s yr«.'bttf>iN '.^*i> :hvf vra:>«f t^vtii Srtonf aav G^raum «ttienn*nc wi* 
toavlc '• l^rrcaiii. Fv.: :i«> ir^'Lincu': cm >.* ra::j«:ii oa this ^roiuiii liminj* 

V.*>. »L:aa> Aors^i^vc a. .a. ;hcv ;jpJ0abr carr'tHi ins na» with dicTn aj 
b:>_:'a:ic. ^^ c Vio * z.iAt *!c > out? or the itjtiji nameti in the -.-eie- 
brn' *: vr-u .larv ,'i r».'i iru'iiriou. *Aiiicii cii«i stcacKouary Chrrscan:? pn?- 
•\ir.*i •••r :.iv; ist- 'i -.ic Slv jii s.vir. t:rt:i, ^V*av the wtif^jr^f'tno Rumttri'i 
Idv* ^'vrm. \':i.. 'iwi iivii W j»tea ds ihe otirrespuniimc j?;»i :u 
M*.n.Mu-\ •.>^. Ji^, jj.f ^.:, .^N. s<^.' but wy arv not iie^uamnM. wrth :iie 
r'tx.> uia .tT^vuii^ > ^icii ma' bai^e 3iitot«* this TXfrfevtiv citmr cu Hie 

N:t:uvfv i|»p r«ifiar Or mm -wtftn^ :u bavt «um«; Jonbc jr the le- 
ctu-HC) ^£ Mis THiia^ur.uii. Vt at. M\rh. j. iMi iiuuuQ .it l.S*4 . butt 
tiiiuk iumv*v\f;»i$»ru\. A: L\ ^veurs- :he invcnoiin Ml cbe HuiEniiiv. jt 

CH. xn.] 



dence of resemblance. A metrical homily in vari- 
ous collections, bearing the attractive title Defalsis 
dits, supplies us with further proof of this identi- 
fication, not only with Wdden, but with the Norse 
OJ^inn : it says, 

Snm man was geMten 
Mercurius on life, 
se was swiSe fi^nfid 
and swicol on ddedum, 
and iufode e^ stala 
and le&brednysse : 
tSone macodon Sa hs^Senan 
him t<$ mseran gode, 
and set wega geketum 
him 1^ offirodoD, 
and t6 hedgum beorgom 
him brdhton onsaegdnysse. 
Dees god wses drwurSa 
betwux eallum hseCenum, 
and he is 0)?on gehdten 
(SSmm naman on Denisc. 

A man there was, called 

Mercury during life, 

who was very fraudulent 

and deceitful in deeds, 

and eke loved thefts 

and deception : 

him the heathen made 

a powerful god for themselves, 

and by the road-sides 

made him offerings, 

and upon high hiUs 

brought him sacrifice. 

This god was honourable 

among all the heathen, 

and he is called Odin 

by another name in Danish. 

Done feorSan daeg 
hi sealdon him t(5 frcSfre 
Sam foressedan Mercuric 
heora m^ran gode^ 

The fourth day 
they gave for their advantage 
to the aforesaid Mercury 
their great god. 

Rones, the possession of which makes men dear to their companions, 
is distinctlv attributed to him in the Edda : 

[fter of hugdi Hroptr 

af l^im legi 

er leki> hafdi 

or bavfi Heiddravpnis 

ok or homi Hoddropnis. (Brynh-qu. i. 13.) 
But this is an additional point of approximation to the deities whom 
we consider identical with Hermes, and in some respects with Mercury, 
as for instance Thoth. 

' MS. Cott. Jul. E. vii. 237, b. etc. See the author's edition of Sa- 
lomon and Saturn, p. 120, seq, 


340 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book t. 

Thus we have Mercurius, W6den and 0)>inu suf- 
ficiently identified. A careful investigation of the 
inner spirit of Greek mythology has led some 
very competent judges to see a form of Hermes in 
Odysseus. This view derives some corroboration 
from the Teutonic side of the question, and the re- 
lation in which Woden stands to Mercurius. Even 
Tacitus had learnt that Ulixes had visited Grermany, 
and there founded a town which he called Asci- 
burgium ^ ; and without insisting on the probability 
that Asciburgium grew out of a German Anseopurc 
or a Scandinavian Asgard, it seems not unreason- 
able to suppose that some tales of W6den had 
reached the ears of the Roman, which seemed to 
him to resemble the history of Odysseus and his 
wanderings. Such a tale we yet possess in the ad- 
ventures of Thorkill on his journey to Utgardaloki, 
narrated by Saxo Grammaticus, which bears a re- 
markable likeness to some parts of the Odyssee * ; 
and when we consider Saxo's very extraordinary 
mode of rationalizing ancient mythological tradi- 
tions, we shall admit at least the probability of an 
earlier version of the tale which would be much 
more consonant with the suggestion of Tacitus, 
although this earlier form has unfortunately not 

' ''Cetenim et Ulixen quidam opinantur lougo illo et fabuloso eirore in 
hunc Oceauum delatiim adiisse Germauiae terras, Asciburgiumque, quod 
in ripa Rhcni situm hodieque incolitur, ab illo constitatiiin nomina- 
tumque. Aram quinetiam Ulixi consecratam adiecto Laertae patris 
nomine eodem loeo olim repertam, monimentaque et tumulos quosdam 
Gmecis litteris inscriptos in coDfinio Germaniae Raetiaeque adhuc 
exstare. Quae neque eoufirmare argumentis, neque refellere in animo 
est ; ex ingeuio suo quisque demat vel addat fidem.'* Germ. iii. 

' Saxo Gram. Ilist. Dan. lib. \uu 

cu. xit.] HEATHENDOM. MO DEN. .i-JI 

survived. Wdden is, like Odysseus, preeminently 
the wanderer; he is Gangradr, Gangleri, the rest- 
less, moving deity. Even the cloak, hood or hat 
in which OJiinn is always clad • reminds us hoth of 
the petasus of Hermes and the broad hat which 
Odysseus generally wears on ancient gems and 
pottery. That Wuden was worshiped at wega 
geliktum, and that he was the peculiar patron of 
houndaries, again recalls to us this function of 
Hermes, and the "Ep^uia : when we hear that offer- 
ings were brought to him upon the lofty hills, we 
are reminded that there was an uKpioc or Mountain 
Hermes too, though little known ; and the 'Ep/i^c 
Trpofiaync, perhaps as little known as his moun- 
tain brother, answers to the warlike, victory- giving 
deity of our forefathers in his favourite form. 

From the godlike or heroic sous of Woden de- 
scend all the races qualified to reign, and some of 
those whose names are found in the Anglosaxon 
genealogies maybe easily recognised in the mytho- 
logical legends of the continent. In some one or 
other of his forms he is the eponyvms of tribes and 
races ; thus, as Geat or through Geat, he was the 
founder of the Gedtas ; through Gewis, of the Ge- 
wissas; through Scyld, of the Scyldingas, the Norse 

' OHhQ is calleil beklumaCr, Ike man ifiih ike cloak, Fomalil. Sog. 
i. 325. " Kom l>ar inaSr gamall, miiik orGapnkr, einiyuD [OHnn woe 
one-ryed only] ok augilnpr, ok haK5i halt sidaii." Fornman. Stig. ii. 

138. " Su Iwnn nmnn rnikinn meS giSum hctti ak f«tti kondngi 

gUDan xt ncSum bans, Kiat bsmn kuniii at oUum luniliim tiflioili at 
ieB»." Formnan. S'>g. v. 250. He is callcil Silihottr even in the E<ld«. 
Tbrough thie cloak or Hackle, Wodeu beromes Haclebernd or Haeile- 
berg. wbo riilcs at the bead of the WiWc Jngti or wild buot. 

342 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

Skjoldungar; through Brand, of the Brondingas; 
perhaps through Bsetwa, of the Batavians ^ It seems 
indeed not wholly improbable that every name in 
the merely mythical portion of the genealogies re- 
presents some particular tribe, under the distinctive 
appellation of its tutelar god or hero ; and that we 
may thus be led in some degree to a knowledge of 
the several populations which coalesced to form the 
various kingdoms. 

Legends describing the adventures of W6den 
either in a godlike or heroic form were probably 
not wanting here, or in Germany ; it is <mly in 
Scandinavia that a portion of these have been pre- 
served, unless the tales of Geat and Sceaf, to be 
hereafter noticed, are in reality to be referred to 
him« Equally probable is it that he had in this 
country temples, images and religious rites, traces 
ot^ which we dnd upon the contiQent ^ ; and that 

* Tbxf M:s C3$c» Tviia Tijtcwx. bos «» com illifienciia wiudi 

^ ::'^ ac<« IWtiOkir >k' ««c. DtfuctiLV db. x> v»^. >. air Bam B«£«& dfer 
tf^^^tttusy .*( :^* I>itc;i> :2ii:i$« Vux sij£ iiie» 3iic .ipp««r 3i r«»c ipm 

.V^twiftxvu dr«utnbip«ct«A^ tile r^m&ier nay cmualt a tscv n "his maam^%. 

* l**Kf .tncH.MU kHTT^ans 'SiLT'ftctfU itumui ^rtfiwat rxt iim. - Deunni 
«ti*.vatv* ^'fvumini .•'iiuiir. ,nu .>jrti* iiv«)u> 3uimniia> .nioinie jdios 
abir« ^ hiaHrnc.'* Tic wm. vvtia. • '^'•emn^ ari 

5*"" ' ^*"W' Ctiuu. v:ii. -r SLii:r Vat JT V'-n 4i«? nd. Ji fi g g»i ip :■ 
Mivv^r^tMvu imv" :i i\> Hni> -u ','l*iiu. "u m y; mac "at- enscHi n ii» iwa 
ait- >Ujc»Jtnr >»&: -"np. w\ '.-«r':tr. L-msrii. SrJrwr«i. . 4t»>. 


trees, animals and places were consecrated to him'. 
So numerous indeed are the latter, so common in 
every part of England are names of places com- 
pounded with his name, that we must admit his 
worship to have been current throughout the island : 
it seems impossible to doubt that in every quarter 
there were localities (usually rising ground) either 
dedicated to him, or supposed to be under his espe- 
cial protection ; and thus that be was liere, as 
in Germany, tbe supreme god whom the Saxons, 
Franks and Alamans concurred in worshiping. The 
following names of places may all be unhesitatingly 
attributed to this cause, and tbey attest the gene- 
ral recognition and wide dispersion of Woden's 

Wanborough, i'ormerly Wddnesheorh, in Surrey, lat. 
51° 14'N., long. 38' W., placed upon the water-shed 
which throws down streams to north and south, 

b&bitatorea illiua loci progrederctur, rejierit eoa sacrificiiim profanum 
titare vclle, vaique inagoiim, quod viUgo (?iip&m vocant, quod viginti 
Ct sex madias amplius miDusvc capiebat, cureviiia plenum in media ha- 
bebuit positum. Ad quod vir dci acceaait ct aciacitatur, quid de illo 
fieri velteut? Rli aiunt ; deo suo Wodano, qaen Merctuium vocant alii, 
■c wUb Ltwe." Ion, Bobbieiudi, Vita Calumbani. Campare alw wbM 
Saso GrammBtioua says of tht imiueuw tub of beer which Hundiug 
prepared to celcbmte tbe obaequica of Ilndiliug. Iliat. Dao. p. 19. On 
fe«t&l occasions it nas unwt to drink to tbe health, hme or minne of the 
gods. OHnn ivas geoentlly thus honaiu^d : the custom wu preserved 
•moiig Christians, who drank minne to St, John, St. Martin, St. Ger- 
trude uid other saints. Grimm, Myth. p. S3 ifij. 

' WoUet and rarena appear to have been 0)>inn'a sacred aniiuals ; 
the Snson iegeods do not record anything- on this subject; but here 
and there we do hear of sacred trees, which may possibly have been 
dedicated to this god : tlma the W6n£c [Cod. Oipl. No, 4!)d), tbe 
WouMuc (Ibid. Nob. 2B7>G57), "ail queudam fraxinum quum imperiti 
•Bcrum vacant." Ibid, No, 1052. Respecting the sacred character of 
tfae Mb tee Grimm. Myth, p. 617- 

344 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

and roQQing from east to west, divides the county 
of Surrey into two nearly equal portions, once per- 
haps two petty kingdoms ; the range of hills now 
called the Hog's-back. It is a little to the north 
of the ridge, nearly on the summit ; the springs of 
water are peculiarly pure and never freeze. In all 
probability it has been in turn a sacred site for 
every religion that has been received in Britain. 
Wanborough, formerly Wddnesbeorh in Wiltshire, 
lat. 5r 33' N., long. 1° 42' W., about 3J miles 
S.E. of Swindon, placed upon the watershed which 
throws down the Isis to the north, and Kennet to 
the south. Woodnesboraughy formerly Wddnesbeorh^ 
in Kent, lat. 5^ 16' N., long. V 29' E., throwing 
down various small streams to north and south, 
into the Stour and the sea. Wonston (probably Wdd- 
nes Stan) in Hampshire, lat. 5r IC N., long. V 20' 
W., from which small streams descend to north and 
south, into the Test and Itchen. Wambrook (pro- 
bably Wodnes broc) in Dorsetshire. Wampool (pro- 
bably IVodnes pol) in Cumberland. Wansford (pro- 
bably Wodnesford) in Northamptonshire. Wansford 
in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Wanstead (pro- 
bably Wodnes stede) an old Roman station in Es- 
sex. WanstroiCy formerly WodnestreoWj in Somerset, 
Wanborough or Wamborough, formerly Wddnesbeorh, 
two parishes in Hampshire. Wemburyy formerly 
Wddnesbeorh, in Devonshire. Wonersh (probably 
Wddnes ersc), a parish at the foot of the Hog's-back, 
a few miles from Wanborough. Wansdike, formerly 
Wodnes die, an ancient dike or fortification, per- 
haps the boundary between different kingdoms ; it 



extended in a direction from east to west through 
more than one of our southero counties. Its re- 
mains are visible three or four miles W.S.W. of 
Malmsbury in Wiltshire, and it crosses the northern 
part of Somerset from the neighbourhood of Bath 
to Portsheadon the Bristol Channel, where it ends 
JQ lat. 51° 29' N., long. 2° 47' W. 

In addition to these references, which might be 
made far more numerous, if necessary, we have 
many instances in the boundaries of charters, of 
trees, stones and posts set up in Woden's name, 
and apparently with the view of giving a religious 
sanction to the divisions of land. In this, as in 
other respects, we (ind a resemblance to Hermes. 
It is also to be borne in mind that many hills or 
other natural objects may in fact have been dedi- 
cated to this god, though bearing more general 
names, as O'sbeorli, Godeshyl and so forth. 

One of the names of Odin in the Otd-norse my- 
thology is Osk, which by an etymological law is 
equivalent to the German Wunsch, the Anglosaxon 
Wise, and the English Wish. Grimm has shown 
in the most convincing manner that Wunsch may 
be considered as a name of Wuotan in Germany ' ; 
and it is probable that Wi'isc or Wise may have had 
a similar power here. Among the names in the 
mythical genealogies we find Wuscfrea, the lord of 
the wish, and I am even inclined to the belief that 
Oisc, equivalent to E'sk, the founder of the Kent- 
ish line of kings, may be a Jutish name of Woden 
in this form, — ^sc, or in an earlier form oski, t. 

' Deut. Myth. p. \2(i aeq. 

346 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

Wunscb, Wysc *. In Devonshire to this day all ma- 
gical or supernatural dealings go under the com- 
mon name of Wishtness : can this have any refer- 
ence to Wdden's name Wysc ? So again a bad or 
unfortunate day is a wisht day : perhaps a diaboli- 
cal, heathen, accursed day. There are several places 
which appear to be compounded with this name ; 
among them : Wishanger {Wtschangra or Woden's 
meadow), one, about four miles S.W. of Wanbo- 
rough in Surrey, and another near Gloucester; 
Wisley ( Wiscledh) also in Surrey ; Wisborough (pro- 
bably Wiscbeorh) in Sussex ; Wishford (probably 
Wiscford) in Wiltshire. 

2. pUNOR, in Old-norse J)ORR, in Old-german 
DONAR. — ^The recognition of Dunor in England 
was probably not very general at first : the settle- 
ment of Danes and Norwegians in the ninth and 
following centuries may have extended it in the 
northern districts. But though his name is not 
found in the genealogies of the kings, there was 
an antecedent probability that some traces of his 
worship would be found among the Saxons. Thu- 
nar is one of the gods whom the Saxons of the con- 
tinent were called upon to renounce, and a total 
abnegation of his authority was not to be looked 
for even among a race who considered Wdden as 
the supreme god. That the fifth day of the week 
was called by his name is well known : Thursday 

^ Oisc in the form in which the earUest authorities give this name. 
iEsc is certainly later, and may have been adopted only when the ori- 
ginal meaning of Oisc had become forgotten. 


is Dunres dseg, dies Jovis ; aod he is the proper 
representative of Jupiter, inasmuch as he must be 
considered in the hght of the thundering god, an 
elemental deity, powerful over the storms, as well 
as the fertilizing rains'. His peculiar weapon, the 
mace or hammer, seems to denote the violent, 
crushing thunderbolt, and the Norse myth repre- 
sents it as contiuunlly used against the giants or 
elemental gods of the primal world. In a compo- 
sition whose antiquity it is impossible to ascer- 
tain, we may still discover an allusion to this 
point : in the Christian Ragna Ravk, or Tivilic/ht of 
the Gods, it was believed that a personal conflict 
would take place between the divinity and a devil, 
the emissary and child of Satan : in the course of 
this conflict, it is said : " se Dunor hit ^yrsce^ mid 
Saere fyrenan rexe," the thunder will thresh it with 
the fiery axe*; and I am inclined to see a similar 
allusion in the Exeter Book, where the lightning 
is called rynegiestes weepn, the weapon of Avkv 
D6rr, the car-borne god, Thunder^. 

The names of places which retain a record of 
Dunor are not very numerous, but some are found : 
among them Thundersfield, Bunresfeld, in Surrey*; 
Thundernley, Dunresleah, in Essex, near Saffron 
Waldea ; Thunderslei), £)unresleiih, also in Essex, 
near Raylegh, and others in Hampshire*. Near 

' See the quotatioa from Adani of Bremen, p. 33/- 
' Salomon ami Saturn, |ip. 143. 1/7- 

• Cod. Esou. p. 386. 1. 8. 

• Coil. Dipt, Nob. 270, 314, 363, 413. 

' Cod. Dipl. Noa. 450, 7l*l, 7S4, 10-22, 1038. Some of these we not 
is Euex, but Hampsbiie. 

348 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

Wanborough in Surrey is Thursley, which may have 
been a Dunresleah also : it is unlikely that it was 
ever D6resleah, from D6rr (the Norse form of Du- 
nor), but it might have been Dyrsleah, the meadow 
of the giant or monster. Very near Thursley is a 
hill called Thunder hill, probably Dunres hyl. A si- 
milar uncertainty hangs over Thurleigh in Bedford- 
shire, Thurlow in Essex, Thursby in Camberland, 
Thursfield in Staffordshire, and Thursford in Nor- 
folk*. The name of Dunor was, to the best of my 
knowledge, never borne by any man among the 
Anglosaxons, which is in some degree an evidence 
of its high divinity. The only apparent exception 
to this assertion is found in an early tale which 
bears throughout such strong marks of a mythical 
character as to render it probable that some legend 
of Dunor was current in England ; especially as its 
locality is among the Jutish inhabitants of Kent. 
According to this account, Ecgbert the son of Eor- 
cenberht, the fourth Christian king of Kent, had 
excluded his cousins from the throne, and fearing 
their popularity determined on removing them by 
violence. The thane Thuner divined and executed 
the intentions of his master. Under the king's own 
throne were the bodies concealed ; but a light from 
heaven which played about the spot revealed the 
crime : the king paid to their sister the wergjid of 

The analogy of Thursclay, which was unquestionably Thundersday, 
must be alloived its weight in considering these local names. Even 
Dyrs itself, at one period of Anglosaxon development, might represent 
Dunor, and the resemblance of names thus lead to a little straining of 
the true one. 

G». XII.] 


the slain princes : a hind, let loose, defined the boun- 
daries of the grant which was to make compensation 
for the murder: forty-eiglit hides of land thus be- 
came the property of Domneva, and the repentant 
kin{^ erected upon them a monastery. The assassin 
Thuner, however, added to his guilt the still higher 
atrocity of sneering at the king's repentance and its 
fruits : the earth suddenly opened beneath his feet 
and swallowed him ; while the church placed the 
names of bis victims, ^'Selred and ^^elberht, on 
the list of its martyrs. Any comment upon this, as 
a iiistorical transaction, would be perfectly super- 
fluous, but it may possibly contain some allusion of 
a mythological nature ; for it seems that the very 
fact of Dunor'.s not being a god generally worshiped 
in England, would render him likely to form the 
foundation of heroic stories. I will not absolutely 
Bay that the dragon-slaughter of Beowulf is a di- 
rect reference to the myth of Dunor, though this 
is possible. Another hero of Anglosaxon tradition 
bears the name of the" Wandering Wolf ;" he slew 
five-and-twenty dragons at daybreak, " ou dteg- 
rjed ;" and fell dead from their poison, asThdrr does 
after slaying ? lidgard's orin, and Beiiwulf after liis 
victory over the firedrake. Ttie wolf however is a 
sacred beast of Wtiden, and these names of Wan- 
dering wolf, Mearcwulf, etc, may have some refer- 
ence to him, especially as we learn from Grimm 
that in some parts of Denmark the wild huntsman, 
■who is unquestionably Woden, bears the name of 
the flying Marcolf '. The heathen character of the 
' Deut. Myth. p. 630 (eil. !«35). 

350 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

whole relation is proved by the fact of the " famous 
sailor on the sea/' the ** wandering wolf" being 
represented as the friend of Nebrond, probably 

One of the names by which Dunor is known in 
Grermany is Hamar^, which was perhaps originally 
derived from his weapon. This has become almost 
synonymous with devil. Perhaps the same allusion 
lurks in one or two names of places in England : 
in the immediate neighbourhood of Thursley in 
Surrey, and at a short distance from Thunderhill, 
are some ponds known by the name of the Hammer- 
ponds. It is remarkable that within two or three 
miles of Thursley and the Hammer-ponds, three 
singular natural mounds which form most conspi- 
cuous objects upon a very wild and desert heath, 
should bear the name of the Devil's Jumps, while 
at a short distance a deep valley is known by that 
of the Devil's Punchbowl, probably at some early 
period, the Devil's Cup, Dunres-cup or the Hamer- 
cup. The word Hamarden occurs in the bounda- 
ries of charters^ ; and other places recall the same 
name : thus Hameringham in Lincoln, Hamerton in 
Huntingdon, Homerton in Middlesex (hardly Ham- 
mersmith in Middlesex), Hamerton Green in York- 
shire, Hamerton Kirk in Yorkshire, Hammerwick in 

3. TIW, the Old-norse TYR, and Old-gerraan 
ZIU. — The third day of the week bears among us 

' Sal. Sat. p. 156. ^ ^^^^ ]^ij.^i, ^ ^jg 

» Cod. Dipl. No8. 999, 1039, 1189. 

ca. xii.] HEATHENDOM. TIW. 351 

the name of the god Tiw, the Old-norse Tyr. In 
like manner we find him also giving liis name to 
places. Id the neighbourhood so often referred to 
in this chapter, and which seems to have been a 
very pantheon of paganism', not far from Thursley 
or from Wanborough, we find Tewesley, which I 
have no scruple to pronountre the ancient Tiwes- 
leah. Tisleah'' seems to denote the same name, and 
it is probable that even a race acknowledged this 
god as its founder,— the Tiwingas, who gave their 
name to Tewing in Herts. Tiwes m^re" seems to 
be the mere or lake of Tiw, and in another charter 
we have also Teowes ['orn'', which goes far towards 
substantiating the German form Ziu. 

The Anglosaxon glossaries are perfectly accurate 
when they give the rendering Mars for Tiw*, and 
Tiwesdaig is rightly dies Marlis. It cannot be 
doubted that our forefathers worshiped this god, 
as a supreme giver of victory, and especially a god 
of battle, in some parts of Scandinavia and Ger- 
many ; whether or not in England appears doubtful. 
In the mythology of the North he is the bravest of 
the gods, the one who did not scruple to place hia 

' In B circuit of n few miles (tnktn from Elitesil wilh a rtiliiu per- 
hapi of not more I'han foitr) ne have Wanborough, PoUtewl. Tliunlpy, 
Ibe fiammer-ponilg, Wavcrtey, Teweiley, Thiinilerhill, Dragonliill, 
WoDcrsh, the Devil's Jumps, tbc DpvU'b PunclilioHl, WiBbenger, E^h- 
itig, Luaelej' (Loces Icali?), Goil&lming (GoiUielminghdm), aiiul — tu I 
belierc, in close connexion with these — Gyldhill, Guililford, Guilildown, 
Fretwham (FremeibBtn), Ttlfbrd, TiUiill, Markwick, Ash, and Unitcai]. 

* Cod. Dipl. No. 739. " IbW. No. 2C2. * IWd. No. 174. 

* Mooe'a Epinal GloMes gives Tiig. Mart, No. 520, and Lye does 
the lanic nitliout a reference, hut no duubt from some HS. glo*suT> 
Tlic form is in the same rcbtion to Tiw as Iligan to Hiwan, or geaegra 
risas to geseiieii ; but the luug vowel ia auured by the double i. 

362 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

hand in the mouth of the wolf Fenris, when he de- 
manded a pledge that the gods would unbind the 
chain they had. forged for him, and on their breach 
of faith Tyr paid the penalty ^ The Roman his- 
torian tells of the Hermunduri having vowed to 
sacrifice the beaten Catti to Mercury and Mars, by 
which vow the whole of the horses and men be- 
longing to the defeated force were devoted to 
slaughter. Jornandes says of the Goths, ** Martem 
semper asperrima placaverecultura ; nam victimae 
ejus mortes fuere captorum, opinantes bellonim 
praesulem aptius humani sanguinis effusione pla- 
catum*.*' Procopius tells the same tale of his 0ou- 
Acrac, that is the Scandinavians : rwv Se lepeiwv a^plai 

TO KaWiarov avOpwwoc eariv, ovwep av SopiaXwroy iroc- 
riaaiVTO irp^TOv' rovrov yap ry Apec Ovouffiv, eirei Oeov 

avTov vo^itovfTi fjieyiffTov elvai^. The Norsc traditions, 
although they acknowledge Ofinn as the giver of 
victory, are still very explicit as to Tyr : he is par- 
ticularly Wigagu^, deus praeliorumy and an especial 
granter of success in battle, **rse^r mioc sigri i 
orostom'*/' Perhaps the Tencteri may be added to 
the number of those who paid an especial honour 
to Tyr (in German Ziu), since Tacitus makes them 
say, ** communibus deis et praecipuo deorum Marti 
grates agimus^," where it is not at all necessary to 
suppose Woden meant ; and Grimm has good rea- 

* Hence in Norse he is called the one-handed god, as OHnn is the 
one-eyed. The Teutonic gods, unlike the Indian, have not a super- 
fluity, ])ut on the contrary sometimes a lack, of limhs. It is othc^^vise 
with their horses, etc. 

2 Hist. Goth. cap. v. » Bell. Goth. ii. 15. 

* Grimm, D, Myth. p. 179. ^ Hist. iv. 64. 



son to number t)ie Suevi among the worshipers of 

The Anglosaxon runic alphabet, which in several 
letters recalls the names or attributes of the an- 
cient gods, uses Tir for T : the German runes want- 
ing a Z=T, apply Ziu : there is however another 
rune, similar in shape to the runic T, but having 
the power of EA ; this bears the name of Ear, but 
sometimes also in MSS. that of Tir ; there are ety- 
mological grounds on which the word Tir, glorin, 
must be connected with Tiw, and we are hence led 
to the supposition that Ear may have been another 
name for that god. This gains a great importance 
when we bear in mind that in some parts of south 
Grermany, the third day of the week is called, not 
Zistag, hut Ertag, Eritag, Erichtag, for which we 
should indeed have expected Ereslag : and when 
we find in Saxon Westphalia an undeniably hea- 
then spot called Eresburg, Mons Marlis, now Mers- 
berg, i. e. Eresberg, the lull of Er, Ziu or Mars. 

Now the Anglosaxon poem on the runic charac- 
ters has something to tell us of Ear. It says of him, 

Ear bis ^le 


Sonne tssBtlice 

fliisc onginneS 

fard c61iau, 

hrdsan ce6saii 

bUc t<) gebeddan. 

BUSda gedn!osa6. 

wyniiB gcwitnS, 

wera geswicaii-'. 

> Deut. Mj-th. pp. IM). m. 
' On the Runes of the Aiiglosaxona, l)\ . 
lo^B, vol. xxviii. 
VOL. I. 

. M. Ktmbk-. Aiflisi 


that is, '' Ear is a terror to every man, when fast 
the flesh, the corpse beginneth to become cold and 
pale to seek the earth for a consort. Joy faileth, 
pleasure departeth, engagements cease/* It is clear 
that Ear, spica, arista^ will not explain this, and we 
may believe that our forefathers contemplated the 
personal intervention of some deity whose contact 
was death. This may have been Tiw or Ear, espe- 
cially in the battle-field, and here he would be equi- 
valent to the ''ApriG (iporoXoiyoQ /ucaci^ovoc of Homer. 
More than this we shall hardly succeed in res* 
cuing : but there yet remains a name to consider, 
which may possibly have tended to banish the more 
heathen one of Tiw. Among all the expressions 
which the Anglosaxons used to denote a violent 
death, none is more frequent than wig fomam, or 
wig gescedd, in which there is an obvious person- 
ality, Wig {War) ravished away the doomed: here 
no doubt tvar was represented as personally inter- 
vening, and slaying, as in other similar cases we 
find the feminines Hild, Gu^, which are of the same 
import, and the masculines Swylt, Dea^, mors. The 
abstract sense which also lay in the word wig, and 
enabled it to be used without offence to Christian 
ears, may have been a reason for its general adop- 
tion in cases where at an earlier period Tiw would 
have been preferred. Old glossaries give us the 
rendering Wig Mars, and Hild, Bellona : it is there- 
fore not at all improbable that these words were 
purposely selected to express what otherwise must 
have been referred to a god of perilous influence : 
Wig was a more general, and therefore less dan- 
gerous name than Tiw, to recal to the memory of a 

CB. XII.] 


people prone to apostasy. That the latter survived 
in the name of a weekday serves only to show that it 
was too deeply grounded to be got rid of ; perhaps its 
very familiarity in that particular relation rendered 
it safe to retain the name of any deity, as was done 
by five out of the seven days. But Christianity 
was tolerant of heathen names in other than hea- 
then functions, and in the genealogy of the kings 
of Wessex, Wig is the father of Gewis, the epony- 
mus of the race. I have already expressed my be- 
lief that this name represented either Woden or 
Tiw, and think it very likely Lhat it was the latter, 
inasmuch as the paganism of the Gewissas seems to 
have been remarkable, beyond that of other Anglo- 
saxon tribes : " Sed Britanniain perveniens, ac pri- 
mum Gewissorum gentem ingrediens, cum omnes 
ibidem pagaoissimos inveniret," etc' " Intrante 
autem episcopo in portumoccidentalium Saxonum, 
gentem qui antiquitus Gewisse vocabantur, cum 
omnes ibidem paganissimos inveniret," etc." The 
events described are of the year 634. W^e find that 
Tiw enters into the composition of the names of a 
few plants^ ; on the other hand it is never found in 
the composition of proper names, any more than 
Tir ; although now Tirherht or Tirwulf would seem 
quite as legitimate compounds as Eadberht, Sige- 
berht, Eadwulf, Sigewulf. 

FREA', in Old-norse FREYR, in Old-gerraan 
FRO, — ^The god whom the Norse mythology cete- 

■ ik(U,ni«t. 

■ Thiu Olit-n 

' JoliuwTyaein. Legcud. Nort, ful. bS. 
1. Tvrhjslni. IVsriHr. 

•2 A 2 

35(1 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

brates under the name of Freyer must have borne 
among us the name of Frea. It is probable that he 
enjoyed a more extensive worship in all parts of 
Europe than we can positively demonstrate. At 
present we are only enabled to assert that the prin- 
cipal seat of his worship was at Upsala among the 
Swedes. In general there is not much trace in the 
North of phallic gods ; but an exception must be 
made at once in the case of Freyr. One of the 
most beautiful poems of the Edda^ tells how Freyr 
^ languished for desire of the beautiful Gerdr ; it was 
for her love that he lost the sword, the absence of 
which brings destruction upon him in the twilight 
of the Gods. The strongest evidence of his pecu- 
liar character is found in the passage already cited 
from Adam of Bremen^, and what he says of the 
shape under which Frea was represented at Upsala : 
'* Tertius est Fricco, pacem, voluptatemque largiens 
mortalibus; cujus etiam simulachrum fingunt in- 
genti Priapo.'* The fertilizing rains, the life-bring- 
ing sunshine, the blessings of fruitfuiness and peace 
were the peculiar gifts of Freyr^ ; and from Adam 
of Bremen again we learn that he was the god of 
marriage: ** Si nuptiae celebrandae sunt (sacrificia 
ofFerunt) Fricconi." In his car he travelled through 
the land, accompanied by a choir of young and 

> For Skirnis. The legeud of Geat and Mffi61iild however must have 
been of this character : and thus W6den mav have been in some sort a 
phallic Hermes. 

' M. Adami Bremeusis hb. de situ Daniae. Ed. 1629, p. 23. Ihre, 
in his Gloss. Sucogoth. mentions forms dug up in the North which 
clearly prove the ])revalcnce of phaUic rites. 

^ See Grimm, Mythol. p. 193 seq. 

CH. xii.l HEATHENDOM. FREA. .557 

blooming priestesses \ and wherever he came plenty 
and peace abounded. The beast sacred to Freyr 
was the boar, and it is not improbable that various 
customs and superstitions connected with this ani- 
mal may have had originally to do with his wor- 
ship. It is not going too far to assert that the 
boar's head which yet forms the ornament of our 
festive tables, especially at Christmas, may have 
been inherited from heathen days, and that the 
vows made upon it, in the middle ages, may have 
had their sanction in ancient paganism. But it is 
as an amulet that we most frequently meet with the 
boar in Anglosaxon. Tacitus says of the iBstyi, 
that, in imitation of the Suevish custom, '' Matrem 
deum venerantur; insigne superstitionis, formas 
aprorum gestant. Id pro armis omniumque tutela ; 
securum deae cultorem etiam inter hostes prae- 
stat*." The relation between Frea and the Mater 
dearum is a near one. Now the Anglosaxon poems 
consider a boar's form or figure so essential a por- 
tion of the helmet, that they use the word eofor, 
apcTj for that part of the armour : 

bft M inberon he commanded them to brmg in 

eofor hetfordsegn, the boar (i. e. helmet) the ornament 

of the head, 
healk)stedpne helm. the helmet lofty in battle'. 

And still more closely, with reference to the virtues 
of this sign : 

eoforlic scionou the forms of boars they seemed 

ofer hleor beran above their cheeks to bear 

> Fornman. 8dg. ii. 73 seq. 

^ Germ. xlv. • Beow. I. 4299 $eq. 

358 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

gehroden golde, mdorned with gjM^ 

Uh and f jrheard various and hardened in the fire 

ferhwearde he<Sld. it held the guard of hfe*. 

And again, 

ac se hwita hehn hut the white hehnet 

hafekn werede, guarded the head. 

since geweor5ad, adorned with treasure, 

hefcmgen freawrasnum, aet about with lordlj signs, 

swi hine fymdagum as it in days of yore 

worhte wtepna smii$, the armourer made, 

wundrum te6de, wondroushr produced, 

besette swlnHcum, set it about with shiqpes of boars, 

tet bine svl^San n6 that afterwards nathcr 

brottd ne beadomecas brand nor warknife 

bitan ne meahton. might penetrate it*. 

Grimm citing this passage goes so far as even to 
render ** frea wrasnmn** by Frothonis signis, and thns 
connects it at once with Frea^ ; and we may admit 
at all events the great plausibility of the sugges- 
tion. But though distinct proof of Frea's worship 
in England cannot be supphed during the Saxon 
period, we have very clear evidence of its still sub- 
sistins: in the thirteenth centurv. The following 
extraordinar\- storv is found in the Chronicle of 
Lanercost^, an. 1268. ** Pro fidei di\inae integri- 
tate servanda recolat lector quod, cum hoc anno 
in Laodonia pestis grassaretur in pecudes armenti. 
tjuani vocaut usitate Lungessouth, quidam bestiales, 

- Ibid. L JSiJo. ' Mythol- p. 195. 

* Eiiited in IS^i^ bv the Rev. J. Stevenson for the umbers of the 
BannmtTiie uhI MaitiaBd Chxbc<. 


habitu clau8trale8 non animo, docebant idiotas pa- 
triae ignem confrictione de lignis educere et simu- 
lachrum Priapi statuere, et per haec bestiis suc- 
currere. Quod cum unus laicus Cisterciencis apud 
Fentone fecisset ante atrium aulae, ac intinctis 
testiculis canis in aquam benedictam super ani- 
malia sparsisset ; ac pro invento facinore idola- 
triae dominus villae a quodam fideli argueretur, 
ille pro sua innocentia obtendebat, quod ipso ne- 
sciente et absente fuerant haec omnia perpetrata, 
et adiecit, et cum ad usque hunc mensem Junium 
aliorum animalia languerent et deficerent, mea 
semper sana erant, nunc vero quotidie mihi mori- 
untur duo vel tria, ita quod agricultui pauca super- 

Fourteen years later a similar fact is stated to 
have occurred in a neighbouring district, at Inver- 
keithing, in the present county of Fife. 

'' Insuper hoc tempore apud Inverchethin, in 
hebdomada paschae [Mar. 29 — Ap. 5], sacerdos 
parochialis, nomine Johannes, Priapi prophana pa- 
rans, congregatis ex villa puellulis, cogebat eas, 
choreis factis, Libero patri circuire ; ut ille feminas 
in exercitu habuit, sic iste, procacitatis causa, mem- 
bra humana virtuti seminariae servientia super as- 
serem artificiata ante talem choream praeferebat, 
et ipse tripudians cum cantantibus motu mimico 
omnes inspectantes et verbo impudico ad luxuriam 
incitabat. Hi qui honesto matrimonio honorem 
deferebant, tam insolente officio, licet reverentur 
personam, scandalizabant propter gradus eminen- 
tiam. Si quis ei seorsum ex amore cdrreptionis 

360 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

sevmonem inferret, fiebat deterior, et conviciis eos 

It appears that this priest retained his benefice 
until his death, which happened in a brawl about 
a year later than the events described above ; and 
it is very remarkable that the scandal seems to 
have been less at the rites themselves than at their 
being administered by a person of so high a cleri- 
cal dignity. Grimm had identified Freyr or Frowo 
with Liber: it will be observed that his train of 
reasoning is confirmed by the name Liber Pater, 
given in the chronicler's recital. The union of the 
Needjire with these Priapic rites renders it proper to 
devote a few words to this particular superstition. 

The needfire, nydfyr, New-german nothfeuer, was 
called from the mode of its production, confricHone 
de ligniSf and though probably common, to the Kelts ^ 
as well as Teutons, was long and w^ell known to all 
the Germanic races at a certain period. All the 
fires in the village were to be relighted from the 
virgin flame produced by the rubbing together of 
wood, and in the highlands of Scotland and Ireland 
it was usual to drive the cattle through it, by way 
of lustration, and as a preservative against disease^ 

* See Jamiesou*8 Scottish rHctionan , voc. Beitame, and Boacher*8 
Glossan* bv Stevenson. 

* In the Minror of June 24th, IS2G, there is the account of this ha- 
ving been done in Perthshire, on occasion of a cattle epidemic. " A 
wealthy old farmer, having lost several of his cattle by some disease 
very prevalent at present, and being able to account for it in no way 
so rationally as by witchcraft, had recourse to the following remedy, 
recommendeil to him by a weird sister in his neighbourhood, as an 
effectual protection Ifrom the attacks of the foul fiend. A few slooes 
were piled together in the barnyard, and woodcoals having been 


But there was another curious ceremony connected 
with the lighting of fires on St. John's Eve, — pro- 
bably from the context, on the 23rd of June. A 
general reference for this may be made to Grimm's 
Mythologie, pp. 570-592, under the several heads 
of Nothfeuer, Bealtine and Johannisfeuer ; but the 
following passage, which I have not seen cited be- 
fore, throws light on Grimm's examples, and adds 
some peculiarities of explanation. It is found in an 
ancient MS. written in England, and now in the 
Harleian collection, No. 2345, fol. 50. 

** Eius venerandam nativitatem cum gaudio cele- 
brabitis ; dico eius nativitatem cum gaudio ; non 
illo cum gaudio, quo stulti, vani et prophani, ama- 
tores mundi huius, accensis ignibus, per plateas, 
turpibus et ilUcitis ludibus, commessationibus, et 
ebrietatibus, cubilibus et impudicitiis intendentes 

illam celebrare solent Dicamus de tripudiis 

quae in vigilia sancti Johannis fieri solent, quorum 
tria genera. In vigilia enim beati Johannis colli-' 
gunt pueri in quibusdam regionibus ossa, et quae- 
dam alia immunda, et insimul cremant, et exinde 
producitur fumus in acre. Faciunt etiam brandas 
et circuunt arva cum brandis. Tercium de rota 

thereon, the fiiel was ignited by wilUfire, that is fire obtained by fric- 
tion ; the neighbours having been called in to witness the solemnity, 
the cattle were made to pass through the flames, in the order of their 
dignity and age, commencing with the horses and ending with the 
swine. The ceremony having been duly and decorously gone through, 
a neighbouring fanner observed to the enlightened owner of the herd, 
that he, along with his family, ought to have followed the example of 
the cattle, and the sacrifice to Baal would have been complete." The 
will-fire has been used in Devonshire for the same puq)Ose, within the 
memory of man. 

362 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

quam faciunt volvi : quod> cum immunda cremant, 
hoc habent ex gentilibus. rAntiqoitus enim dra- 
cones in hoc tempore excitabantur ad libidinem 
propter calorem, et volando per aera frequenter 
spermatizabantur aquae, et tunc erat letalis, quia 
quicumque inde bibebant^ aut moriebantur, aut 
grave morbum paciebantur. Quod attendentes phi- 
losophic iusserunt ignem fieri frequenter et spar- 
sim circa puteos et fontes^ et iramundum ibi cre- 
mari, et quaecumque immundum reddiderunt fu- 
mum, nam per talem fumum sciebant fugari dra- 
cones .... Rota involvitur ad significandum quod 
sol tunc ascendit ad alciora sui circuli et statim 
regreditur, inde venit quod volvitur rota." 

An ancient marginal note has bonfires, intending 
to explain that word by the bones burnt on such 
occasions. Grimm seems to refer this to the cult 
of Baldr or Baeld?eg, with which he connects the 
name Beltane ; but taking all the circumstances 
into consideration, I am inclined to attribute it 
rather to Frea, if not even to a female form of the 
same godhead, Fricge, the Aphrodite of the North. 
Fred seems to have been a god of boundaries ; pro- 
bably as the giver of fertiUty and increase, he gra- 
dually became looked upon as a patron of the fields. 
On two occasions his name occurs in such bounda- 
ries, and once in a manner which proves some tree 
to have been dedicated to him. In a charter of the 
year 959 we find these words: ''Sonne andlaog 
herpaSes on Frigedaeges treow," — thence along the 
road to Friday's (that is Frea's) tree* ; and in a 

» Cod. Dipl. No. 1221. 


Bimilar document of the same century we have a 
boundary running " oS ISoiie Frigedfeg." There is 
a place yet called Friday tliorpe, in Yorkshire. Here 
Friged^g appears to be a formation precisely similar 
to Bfeldseg, Swfefdieg, and Wsegdteg, and to mean 
only FreA himself. 

BALD^G, in Old-norse BALDR, in Old-ger- 
man PALTAC. — The appearance of Baeldeeg among 
Widen'ssons in the Anglosaxon genealogies, would 
naturally lead us to the belief that our forefathers 
worshiped that god whom the Edda and other le- 
gends of the North term Baldr, the father of Brand, 
and the Phoebus Apollo of Scandinavia. Yet be- 
yond these genealogies we have very little evidence 
of his existence. It is true that the word bealdor 
very frequently occurs in Anglosaxon poetry as a 
peculiar appellative of kings, — nay even as a name 
of God himself, — and that it is, as far as we know, 
indeclinable, a sign of its high antiquity. This 
word may then probably liave obtained a general 
signification which at first did not belong to it, 
and been retained to represent a king, when it had 
ceased to represent a god. There are a few places 
in which the name of Balder can yet be traced : 
thus Baldersby in Yorkshire, Balderston in Lanca- 
shire, Bealderesleah and Baldheresbeorh in Wilt- 
shire' : of these the two first may very likely have 
arisen from Danish or Norwegian influence, while 
the last is altogether uncertain. Save in the gene- 
alogies the name Bieldeeg does not occur at all. 
I Cod. Dipl. No. 1059, 92. 



[book 1. 

But there is another name under which the Anglo- 
saxons may possibly have known this god, and that , 
is Pol or Pal. 

In the year 1842 a very extraordinary and very 
interesting discovery was made at Merseberg : upon 
the spare leaf of a MS. there were found two me- 
trical spells in the Old-german language : these 
upon examination were at once recognized not only 
to be heathen in their character, but even to con- 
tain the names of heathen gods, perfectly free from 
the ordinary process of Christianization. The one 
with which we are at present concerned is in the 
following words : 

Phol endi W6dan 

vaonm zi holza, 

da wart demo Balderes rolon 

sin Tuoz birenkit ; 

thu biguolen Siuthgunt, 

Sunn^ era suister, 

thu biguolen Fnid, 

Volla era suister, 

thu biguolen W6dan, 

so he wola conda : 

sose b^renki, sose bluotreuki, 

sose Udireuki : 
ben zi bdna, 
bluot zi bluoda, 
lid zi geliden, 
sose gelimida sin. 

Phol and W6dan 

went to the wood, 

then of Haider's colt 

the foot was wrenched ; 

then Sinthgunt charmed him, 

and her sister Sunna, 

then Frua charmed him, 

and her sister Folia, 

then Woden charmed him, 

as he well could do : 

both wrench of bone, and 

wrench of blood, 
and wrench of limb ; 
bone to bone, 
and blood to blood, 
limb to Umb, 
as if they were glued together. 

The general character of this poem is one well 
known to us : there are many Anglosaxon spells of 
the same description. What makes this valuable 
beyond all that have ever been discovered, is the 

cii. xii.j HEATHENDOM. POL. .S65 

number of genuine heathen names that survive in 
it, which in others of the same kind have been re- 
placed by other sanctions ; and which teach us the 
true meaning of those which have survived in the 
altered form. In a paper read before the Royal 
Academv of Sciences in Berlin, Grimm identified 
Phol with Baldr', and this view he has further de- 
veloped in the new edition of his Mythology ^. It 
is confirmatory of this view that we possess the 
same spell in England, without the heathendom, 
and where the place of the god Baldr is occupied 
by that of our Lord himself. The English version 
of the spell runs thus : 

The lord rade, 
and the foal slade ; 
He lighted 
and he righted ; 
set joint to joint 
and hone to hone, 
binew to sinew. 
Heal, in the Holy Ghost's name > ! 

It will be admitted that this is something more 
than a merely curious coincidence, and that it leads 
to an induction of no little value. Now it appears 
to me that we have reasonable ground to believe 
our version quite as ancient and quite as heathen 
as the German one which still retains the hea- 
then names, and that we have good right to sup- 
pose that it once referred to the same god. How 

> " Ueher zwei entdeckte Gedichtc aus der Zeit des dcutschen Hei- 
denthums. Von Jacob Grimm. Yorgelesen in der Konigl. Akademie der 
WisKnschaften, am 3 Febr. 1842, pp. 10, 11. 

' Deut. Mythol. p. 205. ' Chalmerii*» Niir9er> Talesi. 

366 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

then was this god named in England ? Undoabt* 
edly Pol or Pal \ Of such a god we have some 
obscure traces in England. We may pass over 
the Appolyn and Apollo, whom many of our early 
romancers number among the Saxon gods, al- 
though the confused remembrance of an ancient 
and genuine divinity may have lurked under this 
foreign garb> and confine ourselves to the names of 
places bearing signs of Pol or Pal. Grimm has 
shown that the dikes called Phalgraben in Grermany 
are much more likely to have been originally Pfol- 

^ Though little fond of modern Anglosaxon verses, of modem Latm 
hexameters or modem Greek iambics, I shall give a translation of these 
two spells, for the purpose of comparison : 

Pol and Woden 

to wiida foron 

Bealdres folan weafS 

fot bewrenced ; 

"Sa hine SiSgu'S beg6U 

Sunne hire sweoster, 

■6'a hinc Fr\'e beg61, 

Folle hire sweoster, 

^k hine Woden beg61 

swa he wel cuSe : 

swa sy banwrence, swa sy blodwrence, 

swa sy li"6wrence ; 

ban to bane, 

blod to bl6de, 

li« t6 liSe, 

swa swa gelimede S3fn. 

And thus the Enghsh one : 

Dr}hten rad, 
fola slad ; 
se lihtode 
and rihtode ; 
sette li^ to hSe 
eac 8W& ban to bane, 
sinewe to sinewe. 
llal wes 'Su, on '^ses Halgan G^tes naman ! 


graben, and his conclusion applies equally to Pal- 
grave, two parishes in Norfolk and Suffolk : — so 
Wodnes Die, and the Devil's Dike between Cam- 
bridge and Newmarket. Polebrooke in North- 
amptonshire, Polesworth in Warwickshire, Pol- 
hampton in Hants \ Polstead in Suffolk, Polstead 
close under Wanborough ( Wodnesbeorh) in Surrey, 
— which is remarkable for the exquisite beauty of 
its springs of water, — Polsden in Hants, Polsdon 
in Surrey, seem all of the same class. To these 
we must add Polsley and Polthorn, which last 
name would seem to connect the god with that par- 
ticular tree : last, but not least, we have in Poling, 
in Sussex, the record of a race of Polingas, who 
may possibly have carried up their genealogy to 
Baeldaeg in this form. 

The myth of Baldr in the North is one of the 
most beautiful and striking in the whole compass 
of their mythology : it is to be lamented that no 
trace of it remains in our own poems. Still Baldr's 
lay may not have been entirely without influence 
upon the progress of Christianity among the Saxons, 
if, as is probable, it resembled in its main features 
the legend of the Scandinavians. For them he was 
the god of light and grace, of splendour, manly ex- 
cellence and manly beauty. A prophecy that Baldr 
would perish afflicted the gods ; Frigga took an 
oath from all created nature that no individual 
thing would harm the pride of the iEsir, the dar- 

^ PoUn^mAtun. Cod. Dipl. Nos. 642, 752, 1136, 1187. PolealdUi in 
Wilts. Cod. Dipl. No. 641. Polstede in Suffolk. Cod Dipl. No. 686. 
?o\\K>m in Worcester. Cod. Dipl. No. 61. PoUeham, No. 907. 


ling of the Asyniar. A sprig of mistletoe, at that 
time too young to enter into so solemn an obliga- 
tion, was alone, and fatally, excepted. The invul- 
nerability of the god induced him to offer himself 
as a mark for the practice of his relatives and 
friends. Maces, axes and spears fell innocuous 
from his sacred frame ; but Loki placed a sprig of 
mistletoe in the hand of the blind Haudr^ and 
with this, the sole thing that could not be forsworn, 
he slew his brother. An effort still remained to be 
made. OJ'inn himself descended to the abode of 
Hel, in hopes of persuading the goddess of the dead 
to relinquish her prey. He was successfiil, and re- 
turned with the joyiful intelligence that Baldr would 
be restored to the gods, if all created nature would 
weep for him. All nature did weep for the loss of 
the £X>d of beaut T, save one old crone. When called 
upon to do her part in his restoration she answered, 
'* What have the gods done for me.that I should weep 
for Baldr ? Let Hel keep her dead ! '' It is thought 
that it wi\s Loki who had assumed the old woman's 
form. Thus BaKir's fate was sealed. The faithful 
Xanna- would nor sanive her beautiful lord, and 
the sods and goddesses attended round the pile 
on which their two cherished companioos were re- 
in JLztdrtutjdAiKU H^'uSa wa.i:ii b»>«*ever issj^ olxzLOKt At'^raiv* tiw afe»- 

* l:i AntfiosaAOfu No^ : ;3£> jonir^ rxrvb :$;&¥« tn c*uixip«MiciiHL. wbeet 
IB jievat:j> w c&tti/ce bwr^jt^ or ccuniij^;. Sue ic » ni b»* ob38arn>ti due 
ttov^ fi* ?h«r mum* at a <ttip <w ^^t? Tunc : ma :t js wtjrta an^mrv wfe- 
th<f zh%i r^urooie X9«iut:^ Ziza. ^/cvimi^r ji AniHiM&sjjn fjc^. imEir ajc 
kav** 'Hfvtt iiitfucvnii ▼Tfii this >.um2i. Jiisa.'mi .ji Frouwa. The tiramgrmc 



duced to dust together. But the slain god could 
hope for no resurrection : his throne was placed 
in the shadowy realm of Hel, and weeping virgins 
spread the eternal pall that was to give dreary 
honour to the god of light in the cold kingdom of 
darkness and the invisible. The posthumous son, 
or more likely rebirth, of the god, avenged his father 
upon the wretched instrument of Loki's wiles. Yet 
those who had fathomed the deeper mysteries of the 
creed knew well enough that Baldr was to rise again 
in triumph: after the twilight of the gods and the 
destruction of the ancient world, he was to return 
in glory and joy, and reign in a world where there 
should be neither sin nor sorrow, nor destruction. 
Of these details, the Anglosavon mythology 
knows nothing, in the forms which have survived; 
and perhaps in this peculiar myth wc may recog- 
nize something of an astronomical character, which 
can certainly not be attributed to other North- 
ern legends. However this may be, we must con- 
tent ourselves with the traces here given of Pol, 
' as one form of Baldr, and with the genealogical 
i relation which has been noticed. Meagre as these 
facts undoubtedly are, they are amply sufficient to 
prove that the most beloved of the Northern gods 
was not altogether a stranger to their children in 
this island. Perhaps the adoption of another creed 
led to the absorption of this divinity into a person 
of far higher and other dignity, which, while it 
smoothed the way for the reception of Christianity, 
put an end for ever to even the record of his suf- 

370 TH£ SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

GEAT, in Old-norse GAUTR, in Old-German 
KO'Z. — A cursory allusion has already been made 
to Geat, probably only another form of W6den, 
since in the mythology of the North, OJ>inn is 
Gautr, but certainly the eponymus of the Gedtas, 
that tribe of whom Beowulf was the champion and 
afterwards the king. Gedt appears in the West- 
saxon genealogy as a progenitor of W6den, but this 
collocation is unimportant in mythological inqui- 
ries. It is probable that Gapt, whom Jomandes 
places at the head of the Gothic genealogy, is only 
a misreading of Gravt, which is the equivalent 
Gothic form of Geat, and that Sigegedt, Angelgedt, 
WalSelgedt, which occur in other Anglosaxon ge- 
nealogies, are identical with him^ His love for 
M8e%hild, a legend unknown to all the nations of 
the North, save our own forefathers, is noticed in 
the Exeter Book : it is there said. 

We «8et Mse^hilde To M^Shild, we 

monge gefrunon the tale have heard, 

wurdon grundle&e that endless was 

GeAtes frige the love of Geat, 

t$aet him se(5 sorglufu so that the pain of love 

slaep ealle binom. took all sleep from him'. 

It is much to be regretted that this is all we learn 
on this subject, whicl) becomes very interesting when 

* And see Geijer, Gesch. Schwed. i. 30. Gaut, Gautrek, Algant, 
Gauthilld. Yngl. Sag. cap. 38. 

' Cod. Exon. p. 378. If Geat really be W6deii, this is another ap- 
proximation to Hermes in bis phallic character. Altogether the mytb 
of the Upos yafioi, so constant in Greek mj'thology, is scarcely trace- 
able in the North. The Woden worship, at least, may have had some- 
thing more of the character of the Apollo worship among the Donani. 


we remember how little trace there is of phallic 
gods in the Northern mythology. But that Geat 
was a god, and not merely a hero, is not left 
entirely to inference : it is distinctly asserted by 
various and competent authorities : Nennius has 
declared him to have been jilius dei, not indeed 
the God of Hosts, and God of Gods, but of some 
idoP. But Asser, who was no doubt well acquainted 
with the traditions of j^lfred's family, says*, 

*' Qnem Getam dudum pagani pro deo yenerabantur/' 

which is repeated in the same words by Florence of 
Worcester* and Simeon of Durham "*, and is con- 
tained in a Saxon genealogy preserved in the Tex- 
tus Roffensis, " Geata, ^ene ^a hse^enan wurSedon 
for God." We can therefore have no scruple about 
admitting his divinity ; and a comparison of the 
Gothic and Scandinavian traditions proves the be- 
lief in it to have been widely held. The name, which 
is derived from geotan, to pour, most probably de- 
notes only the special form in which Wdden was 
worshiped by some particular tribes or families ; 
and the occurrence of it in the genealogies, only 
the fact that such tribes or families formed part of 
the national aggregates, to whose royal line it be- 
longs. But nevertheless we must admit the per- 
sonality attributed to him by those tribes, and the 
probability of his having been, at least for them, 
the national divinity. The circumstance of his 

' NenniuB, § 31. Huntingdon follows Nennius, Hist. Angl. bk. ii. 
' De Reb. Gest. iGlfredi, an. 849. 
> Flor. Wig. Cbron. an. 849. 
^ De Reb. Gest. Regum, an. 849. 

2 B 2 

372 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

name having left such deep traces as we perceive 
in the quotations given above, proves not only the 
especial divinity of the person, but perhaps also the 
political power and importance of the worshipers ^ 

SiETERE. — Among the Gods invariably men- 
tioned as having been worshiped by our forefathers 
is one who answered to the Latin Satumus, at least 
in name. From the seventh week-day we may in- 
fer that his Anglosaxon name was Saetere, perhaps 
the Placer or Disposer^ ; for Saeteresdseg seems a 
more accurate form than Sseternesdaeg which we 
sometimes find. There are both names of places 
and of plants formed upon the name of this god : 
as Satterthwaite in Lancashire, Satterleigh in De- 
vonshire and Saiteresbyrig^ in the same county, of 
which there appears to be no modern representa- 
tive ; while among plants the Gallicrus, or common 
crowfoot, is called in Anglosaxon Satorla^e. The 
appearance of Saturnus as an interlocutor in such 
a dialogue as the Salomon and Saturn ^ is a further 
evidence of divinity; so that, taking all circum- 
stances into account, it is probable that when Gre- 
gory of Tours, GeofFry of Monmouth and others, 
number him among the Teutonic gods, they are 
not entirely mistaken. Now there has been a tra- 

* See the author's edition of Beowulf, vol. ii. Postscript to the Pre- 
face. Leo's Beowulf, etc. ; and Ettmuller's Beowulf, etc., with the last 
of whom, upon the maturest consideration, I find it impossible to agree. 

- Grimm seems rather to imagine insidiator, Mjth. p. 226. 
» Cod. Dipl. No. 813. 

* An edition of the Anglosaxon dialogues on this subject has been 
put forth by the author for the ^Ifiric Society. To this reference may 
be made for full details respecting Saturnus. 

1. xn.] 


dition, ia Germany at least, of a god C'hrodo, or 
' Hruodo, whose Latin name was Saturn, and whose 
I figure is said to have been that of an old man 

standing upon a lish, and holding in one hand a 
■ bundle of flowers, while the oilier grasps a wheel. 
; Grimm imagines herein some working of Slavonic 
' traditions', and following the Slavonic interpreters 
j connects this Chrodo with Kirt or Sitivrat, and 
j again with some Sanskrit legend of a Satjavrata*. ■ 

But the reasoning seems inconclusive, and hardly 
j sufficient lo justify even the very cautious mode in 

which Grimm expresses himself about this Slavo- 
i Germanic godhead^. More than this we cannot say 
[jof the Anglosaxon Ssetere, whose name does not 
j appear in tlie royal genealogies ; nevertheless we 
[ pannot doubt the existence of some deity whom our 
[forefathers recognized under that name. 

It is with no disrespect to the unrivnlled powers of Seott that I 
T my protest here against the false coitame of Ivanhoc ; H far more 
M» objection no doubt ia the way in which his brilliant contrast, 
'■BceBiary to the success of a romance, has misled the historian. Had 
^banhoe not appeared, we ihoiild not have had the many errors whish 
fiafigore Thier^s Conqu^te dc I'Anglcterrc par les Nonnands. But 
jvhen Scott makes Ulrica (Ulrica a Saxon female name !) calliug u[ion 
'Zerneboek, as a god of her fore&thers, he makes her talk absolute non- 
' »aae. Some Mecklenburg or Pomeranian Soxooi, in the immcdinte 
Beighbourbood of Slavonic pojiulations, or mingled with them, may 
: possibly have heard of lAnr godCzeniy Bog, {the black god) contrasted 
twith Bjala Bog, {Ihe tchite god), but nasuredly no Angloaaxon ever 
heard the name of any Mich deity ; nor does the chaunt of the viudictivo 
hdy bear one single trace of Snxon charac^r. In every matter uf 
detail, the romance is only calculated to mislead ; and this is to be re- 
gretted, inasmuch as the beauty of the whole work renders it a certain 
nhiclc of error;— has rendered it already o tnorc to one estimable au- 
fSaor. M. Thierry has related the effect produced u[M)n his mind by 
Ivauhoe. Pec his I)ix Ans d'Etudes Ilistoriques : Preface. 
» Dcut. Myth. p. 217. ' See Salomon and Saturn, p. 123. 

374 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

From the Gods we pass to the Goddesses : of these 
we have indeed but scanty record in England. Of 
the great and venerable goddess Fricge, W6den*s 
wife, we are only told that she gave her name to 
the sixth day of the week ; and we must admit that 
this is all we know of her, unless she be implied 
under some other name, which is possible. 

Beda in acquainting us with the ancient names 
of the Anglosaxon months tells us of four which 
were called from their especial reference to the 
gods : these are Solm6naS or February ; Hre^md- 
na^, March ; E<5sterm6na^, April ; and B16tm6na%, 
November. Solm6naS he says received its name 
from the cakes which were offered to the gods at 
that time' ; B16tm6na% from the victims (cattle) that 
were vowed for sacrifice; of the others he says*, 
** Hr^^mona^ is called from a goddess of theirs, 
— Rheda, to whom they sacrificed in that month. 
Eostermona^, which is now interpreted by the 
' Paschal month,' had its name of old from a god- 
dess of theirs named Eostre, to whom in this month 
they offered celebrations." 

The Scandinavian and German mythology are 
alike destitute of these names ; although among 
the many goddesses they recognize some two may 
perhaps be identical with ours. The name Hr^e 
may possibly mean severe, fierce, and denote a war- 
like goddess ; but still I am more inclined to con- 
nect it with the adjective HroS, glorious, famous, 

^ Can this word sol (j>erhaj)s sdl) he a contracted form of sujl ? If 
not, I cannot oflfer an explanation of it. 
' De Natura Renim, cap. xv. 


and to see in it the meaning of the great or glori- 
ous goddess, that is, in some form or other, Fricge, 
Woden's wife : it is however not to be forgotten 
that the German Chrodo, in Anglosaxon Hrd? or 
even HreKe, is now admitted, and that this god 
was in fact Saturn. It is true that we have more 
than one fragmentary legend in which the name of 
Saturn survives, but in a heroic rather than a god- 
like form, and this may have been the cause of its 
preservation : tlie Church found Saturn useful, and 
kept him ; nor is it at all surprising that a change 
of sex should have taken place : the same thing 
' happened with the German goddess Nerthus, who 
reappears in the Norse god Niordr, and the classical 
scholar will at once remember the god Lunus, as 
well as the goddess Luna'. Whatever explanation 
we may attempt to give of HrelSe, it is clear that 
she was a Saxon goddess to whom at stated periods 
sacrifice was offered. The same thing maybe said 
of Edstre or Eastre, whose name must be etymolo- 
gically connected with East, orient, and who there- 
fore was in all probability a goddess of brightness 
and splendour, perhaps also a Beorhte or Bright 
goddess : she may have been a goddess of light, of 
the morning beams, of the newly awakening year, 
when the sun first begins to recover power after the 

■ The name of Nertbui HteotU in aU tbe best MSS. of Tocitua' Ger- 
tmnia, uid the change of it into Hertbus, though Fery plausible, was 
Miiecettary. One easilv sees the caiue of error : it waa thought that 
Herthua, (erro malrr, noa the Gothie Aiithus, in Old-germnn Erdu, in 
Anglos)ucon EorHe. But there is no H in these ivords; if Ihi^rc were 
we should hasf liail a Tcutoiiic Vesta. The gothleaa'a nsini' «« Nair- 
tfaiu. Nerdu, NerSc, and ber correspooding furui iu Ulil-norsc, Niorilr. 

3/6 THE SiVXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

gloom and darkness of winter. That she was deeply 
impressed upon the mind and feelings of the peo- 
ple follows from her name having been retained for 
the great festival of the church : it may also be 
fairly argued that she was a mild and gentle di- 
vinity, whom the clergy did not fear thus to com- 

Lye*s dictionary cites another goddess, Ricen, 
with the translation Diana, which he seems to have 
taken from some Cotton MS. It stands too iso- 
lated for us to make any successful investigation, 
but I may be excused for calling to mind the fact 
that Diana is mentioned by the versifying chroni- 
clers as among the Saxon gods, and also that 
the superstition known in Germany as the " Wild 
Hunt,'* and which is properly connected with W6- 
den> goes very generally among us by the name of 
Ludus Dianae. This, which became the founda- 
tion of many a cruel persecution, under the name 
of witchcrait, is spread over every part of Gfermany 
in one form or another : sometimes it is Herodia- 
dis who is compelled for ever to expiate her fatal 
diuicing ; at other times we have Minerva or Bertha, 
Holda, Habundia, Dame Abonde, Domina, Hera — 
the Lady, and so on. It is true that our fragmentary 
remains of S;vxon heathendom do not contain anv 
immediate allusions to this superstition, bat yet it 
cuii scarcely be doubted that it did exist here as it 
did iu every part of the continent ^ and one there- 

' " l!i cvotraham parttm e^t auctonOLk rxri q. t. c. episcopL ha 
rbi ic^nir. lUuii noa esc obmicteniiuin quod qtu!«2ain sceieraci mnfi- 
«:r\f:» rvtrv p^^st Stichaii coaTt>rse : demoaam iDiiaifiiiiims et 



fore would not willingly decide at once against there 
having been some deity who might be translated by 
Diana in the interpretatio Romana. 

FIENDS and MONSTERS.— The community of 
belief, between the Germans of this island, of the 
continent, and their Scandinavian kinsmen, does 
not appear to liave been confined to the beneficent 
gods of fertility or warlike prowess. In the noble 
poem of Beowulf we are made acquainted with a 
monstrous fiend, Grendel, and his mother, super- 
natural beings of gigantic birth, stature and dispo- 
sition, voracious and cruel, feeding upon men, and 
from their nature incapable of being wounded with 
mortal weapons. The triumph of the hero over 
these unearthly enemies forms the subject of one 
half the poem. But Grendel. who, from the cha- 
racteristics given above, may at once be numbered 
among the rough, violent deities of nature, the 
Jotnar' of the North and Titans of classical my- 
thology, is not without other records : in two or 
three charters we find places bearing his name, and 
it is remarkable that they are all connected more 
or less with water, while the poem describes his 
dwelling as a cavern beneath a lake, peopled with 

tibiia leducte : crcilunt ae et profitcntur cum iliana nocturnis Koris dca 
pagfmortiui vel cum Herodiade ft innumcra mullituttine mulieruni 
cqiiitare nipcr qunsilnm bestias et niiilta tt^rrnmin apatia in tempe«te 
DOCtU jilentio pertranrire eius iuasionibus obeiltte veliiti domiae et cer- 
tis iioctibiis ad eiua servitium ei*ocari." nieronymi Vicecomitii opua- 
culum Lnmiaj-um vel Striaiiiin. Mediol I4!)(). Johnof Soliibuiynoticci 
tlat in bis Poljchronicon, and Henry More in bis Mystery of Oodlinesi. 
See Salom. Sat. p. 125, sfi/. 

■ In Be£wulf he is coDtinually eallcd Eoten. 

378 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

Nicors and other supernatural beings of a fiendish 
character. The references are Grindles pyt^ Grin- 
dles bece*, and Grendles mere^ Grimm, by a com- 
parison of philological and other data, identifies 
Grendel with the Norse Loki, the evil-bringer, and 
in the end destroyer of the gods*. The early con- 
verted Anglosaxons who possessed another devil to 
oppose to the Almighty in the Ragnaravkr^, could 
easily reconcile themselves to the destruction of 
Grendel by an earthly hero ; although the ancient 
heathendom breaks out in the supernatural powers 
attributed to the latter, and which placing him very 
near the rank of the gods, induce a belief that Be6- 
wulf contains only the shadow of an older myth 
which may have been current far beyond the limits 
of this island^. It will be sufficient to call atten- 
tion to the many German tales in which the devil's 
mother figures as a principal actor, nay to our own 
familiar expression, the deviVs daniy to show how 
essential this characteristic of the fiend was : the 
devil of the Church had certainly no mother ; but 
the old Teutonic evil spirit had, and Loki and 
Grendel are alike in this. Even the religious view, 
which naturally shaped itself to other influences, 
could not escape the essential heathendom of this 
idea : the devil who is so constant an agent in the 
Anglosaxon legends, has, if not a mother, at least 
a father, no less than Satan himself; but Satan lies 

» Cod. Dipl. No. 59. « Ibid. No. 570. 

' Ibid. No. 353. * Mytbologie, p. 222. 

^ The Devil and the Pater Noster were to contend together at Doom*- 
day : each was to assume fifteen different forms. SaL Sat, p. 145. 
^ See Beowulf y ii. Postscript, and the Stammtafel der Westachsen. 



bound in hell, as LoUi lies bound, and it is only as 
his emissary and servant that the devil his son' ap- 
pears on earth, to tempt and to destroy. In C»d- 
mon, the legend of St. Andrew, Juliana, Gii^Mc, 
etc., it IB always the devil's son and satellite who 
executes his work on earth, and returns to give an 
account of his mission to him that sent liim. 

Thus throughout the strange confusion which 
besets all Anglosaxon compositions in which the 
devil is introduced either as a tempter or a perse- 
cutor of the holy and just, we may perceive a ray 
of ancient heathendom, gloomy enough, no doubt, 
but far less miserable than the vile materialism of 
the notions with which it has been mixed up. The 
rude Eoten or Titan is not nearly so repugnant to 
our Christian ideas as the gross corporeal fiends 
who have grown out of him, and who play so conspi- 
cuous a part in Anglosaxon hagiology or purgato- 
rial legends : nor is it easy to conceive any super- 
stition more degrading than that which Eastern or 
perhaps even Roman traditions thus engrafted upon 
the ancient cieed. With these we are not called 
upon to deal in any further detail, for though they 

' Id the lefcnd of JulJuio, the subordintite devil speaks of SaUn h 
lui fathur and king. Cod. Exon. pp. 261, '27'J. And so tdgo in !)alo- 
mon and Satum (p. 141), he a called Satan's thane. Again, in the 
Mune coinpoaition, Satan i* called the devil'* fatJier : " The PMet No«- 
ter will shoot the devil with boiling shufVs ; and the hghtning nil! hum 
and mark him, and the rain will be shed over him, and the thick dark- 
nen confmw him, nnA the thunder thrath him with the fierj axe, aod 
drive him to the irop ehain wherein his father dwelleth, Satan and Sa* 
thiel." p. Il!>. In the legend nf St. Andrew, Satan himself appean, 
whidi may be owing to its flreek origin. See VercelU Poema, Andr. 
1. 2388 : itiU, in another paasage Satan sends hi* childroi. Ibid. 1. 269S. 

380 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

have no claim whatever to be called Christian, they 
certainly have nothing to do with Anglosaxon hea- 
thendom. The Grendels and Nicors of our fore- 
fathers were gods of nature, the spirits of the wood 
and wave : they sunk into their degraded and dis- 
gusting forms only when the devils of a barbarous 
superstition came to be confounded and mixed up 
with them. There is still something genuine and 
poetical in the account which a monk of St. Gall 
gives of the colloquy between the ancient gods 
when the missionaries settled on the shores of the 
lake of Constance ; when in the dead of night, the 
holy anchoret watching at his nets. 

Heard how the spirit of the flood 
Spake to the spirit of the hill : 

**Vblvente deinceps cursu temporis, electus Dei 
Gallus retia lymphae laxabat in silentio noctis, sed 
inter ea audivit demonera de culmine montis pari 
suo clamantem, qui erat in abditis maris. Quo re- 
spondente, * Adsum ! ' montanus e contra : * Surge/ 
inquit, * in adiutorium mihi ! Ecce peregrini vene- 
runt, qui me de templo eiecerunt ;* nam Deos conte- 
rebant, quos incolae isti colebant ; insuper et eos ad 
se convertebant ; * Veni, veni, adiuva nos expellere 
eos de terris !' Marinus demon respondit : * En unus 
illorum est in pelago, cui nunquam nocere potero. 
Volui enim retia sua ledere, sed me victum proba 
luge re. Signo orationis est semper clausus, nee 
umquam somno oppressus.' Electus vero Gallus 
haec audiens, munivit se undique signaculo crucis, 
dixitque ad eos : ' In nomine Jesu Christi praecipio 
vobis, ut de locis istis recedatis, nee aliquem hie 



ledere praesumatis !' Et cum festinatioue ad littus 
rediit, atque abbati suo, quae audJerat, recitavit. 
Quod vir Dei Columbanus audiens, convocavit 
fratres in ecclesiam, solitum signum tangens. O 
mira dementia diaboli ! voces servorum Dei praeri- 
puit vox fantasmatica, cum heiulatus atque ululatus 
dirae vocis audiebatur per culmina [montium']." 

But words are bardly strong enough to express 
the feeling with which an educated mind contem- 
plates the I'antastical, filthy and hideous images 
which gross fanaticism strove to force into the ser- 
vice of a religion whose end and means are love ; 
the material terrors which were substituted for tlie 
sanctions of the most spiritual, pure and holy creed ; 
the vulgar, degrading and ridiculous phantasma- 
goria devised to destroy the essential selfishness 
and impurity of men, and startle them into justice 
and righteousness of life ! The Teutonic Titans, 
though terrible from their rude strength, and dan- 
gerous even to the gods themselves, are neither 
disgusting nor degrading : they are like Cbronoa 
and Saturn, full of power and wisdom ; they are in 
constant warfare with the gods, because the latter 
are the representatives of a more humane order ; 
because the latter was more civilised : but as the 
giant race were mighty at the beginning, so are they 
to triumph at the end of the world ; and it is only 
when they shall have succeeded in destroying the 

I. Anon. St. Golli. Peitz, Monum. ii. 7- PcHx hu juitlj' called 
o tilt melrical form of tliia polloquy. It is deeply W be la- 
mented that we no longer possess it \a its earliest shape, and in the 
laogUDgc of its earliest comjioBition. 

382 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

gods of OJ?inn's race, that they will themselves va- 
nish from the scene, and the glorious reign of All- 
father commence. Loki alone has something mean 
and tricksey in his character, something allied to 
falsehood — a slight spice of the' Mephistopheles. 
But it is not probable that this belongs to his earliest 
form^ and it appears rather to mark the deteriora- 
tion of a myth becoming popular, and assuming 
traits of the popular, humorous spirit, which takes 
delight in seeing power counteracted by cunning, 
and revenges itself for the perfection of its heroes by 
sometimes exposing them to ludicrous defeat. But 
even Loki was at first the friend and associate of 
the gods : he was united with them by the most 
sacred bonds of brotherhood, and his skill and 
wisdom secured them victory in many a dangerous 
encounter. like Lucifer, he had been a tenant of 
heaven : why he and the gods ultimately parted in 
anger we are not told ; but we find him pursuing 
them with the utmost malice, till at length he 
causes the death of Baldr. He is then bound and 
cast beneath the worlds, the poisonous snake hangs 
over him distilling torturing venom : his faithful 
wife sits by and catches the drops as they fall, but 
when the vessel in which she receives them is full 
and she turns for a moment to empty it, the deadly 
juice reaches the prostrate god, and in his agony 
he trembles in every limb. This convulsion is 
known to men as the earthquake. It is only in the 
twilight of the gods that he will break his chain and 
lead the sons of Muspel to avenge him upon the 
race of OJ>inn. 


But Loki is no devil in the Anglosaxon sense of 
Satan and his son ; he is no deceiver or persecutor 
of men ; least of all is he their torturer in another 
world. He suffers indeed, but like Prometheus, or 
Entelechus, or iEgeon, and his hour of triumph is 
to come. There is in his genuine character nothing 
mean or little, — much indeed that is terrible, gloomy 
and vague, but nothing ridiculous or disgusting. 
The Saxon devil with horns, tail, cloven feet, sul- 
phur and pitch, torches, red-hot tongs, pincers and 
pitchforks is less creditable to the imagination, 
and more dangerous to the moral being, of his in- 

Nor are the occupations of such a fiend less vul- 
gar than his form : he blasts the corn, wounds the 
cattle, fetters the hands of the doomed, enters the 
mouth of those who have not guarded it by the sign 
of the cross, and in a future state becomes the 
torturer — ^in the most material and mechanical way 
—of those whose life has been spent in the service 
of sin. The coarse fancy of Marlowe himself halts 
after the descriptions of the Anglosaxon divines and 
poets, revelling in this fruitful theme. Unpleasant 
as such records are, and revolting to our sense of 
right, it is necessary that we should know what was 
taught or permitted by the clergy, if we are to know 
anything of the mode of life and mode of belief of 
our forefathers. 

As early even as the eighth century, we find so 
great a man as Beda condescending to admit into 
his ecclesiastical history, such melancholy evidence 
of Manichaean materialism as the vision of Driht* 

384 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

helm. He tells how such a mao in Northumbria, 
lying at the point of death, had fallen into a trance, 
recovering from which and being restored to health, 
he had entered the monastery of Melrose, in which 
he continued till his death. During his trance he 
had seen visions which he afterwards communi- 
cated to HamgisI a priest, king Aldfri^ of Northum- 
berland, and others. He related that on being re- 
leased from the body his soul had been led by one, 
bright of aspect, gloriously clothed, towards the 
east, into a valley wide and deep and of a length 
that s^med infinite : one side glowed terribly with 
flames, the other was filled with furious hail and 
freezing snow. Either side was full of human souls 
which were tossed from left to right as by a tem- 
pest. For when they could not bear the violence 
of the immense heat, they rushed wretchedly into 
the midst of the dreadful cold ; and when they 
could find no rest there, they sprung back again, 
again to burn in the midst of inextinguishable 
flames. When Drihthelm saw them thus eternally 
tormented by a crowd of deformed demons, he 
thought within himself, '*This is surely hell, of 
whose intolerable tortures I have often heard tell !'* 
But his companion said, " This is not the hell thou 
thinkest ! " and proceeding farther, he beheld how 
the darkness began to thicken around and fill the 
whole space before him. Suddenly in this deep 
night he perceived globes of dusky fire cast up from 
what seemed to be a vast well, into which they 
fell again, without intermission. In the midst of 
these horrors his conductor left him. On looking 


more intently, he now perceived tliat the tongues 
of fire were all full of liuinan souls, tossed aloft like 
sparks in smoke, and then dragged back into the 
abyss. And an incomparable stench, which bub- 
bled up with the vapours, filled all those abodes 
of darkness. Around him sounded the shouts and 
taunts of fiends, like a vulgar mob exulting over 
a captive enemy ; suddenly a host of evil spirits 
dragged through the darkness five souls, one of a 
laic, one of a woman, one tonsured like a cleric, and 
plunged them into the abyss amidst a confused roar 
of lamentation and laughter. Then certain malig- 
nant spirits ascending from the deep, surrounded 
the trembling spectator, terrifying him with their 
flaming eyes and the fire which burst from their 
mouths and noses, and threatening to seize him 
with fiery pincers which they held in their lianda. 
From Ibis danger he was rescued by the return of 
bis companion, who conducted him to two corre- 
sponding regions of eternal bliss, every one of whose 
details is in the strongest contrast to those already 
described, but just as material, as gross and sen- 
sual. The moral of this is too important to be 
given in any but Beda's own words, " And when, 
on our return, we had reached those happy man- 
sions of spirits clothed in white, he said unto me, 
' Knowest thou what all these things are which 
thou hast beheld ?' I answered, ' No.' Then said 
he, ' The valley which thou sawest, horrible with 
its boiUng flames and its stifi' cold, that is the place 
where shall be tried and chastised the souls of those 
men, who delaying to confess and to amend their 
VOL. I. '2 c 

386 THE SAXONS IN ENOLAlTD. [Udoi: t. 

sins, yet fly to penitence in the hour of deaths &nd 
thus leave the body : yet since they had confession 
and penance even in death, shall all, at the day of 
judgement, reach the kingdom of heaven. But 
many, both the prayers of the living, and their altns 
and fasts, and most of all the celebration of masses, 
assist, so that they shall be freed even before the 
day of judgement. But that flame-belching^ putrid 
well which thou hast seen is the mouth of hell it- 
self, into which whoever shall fall, shall never be 
set free for ever and ever. And that flowery place 
in which thou sawest those most beauteous youths 
enjoy themselves in splendour, is that wherein are 
received the souls of those who indeed leave the 
body in good works, but yet are not of such per- 
fection that they may at once enter the kingdom of 
heaven ; who yet shall all, in the day of judgement, 
enter into the sight of Christ, and the joys of the 
heavenly kingdom. For they who are perfect in 
every word and act and thought, immediately on 
leaving the body shall reach the heavenly king- 
dom ; to whose precincts that place belonged, where 
thou heardest the sound of pleasant singing, toge- 
ther with the smell of sweetness and the splendour 
of light*.' " Having thus seen and heard, Drihtbelm 
was allowed to return to the body, where no doubt 
he became a powerful champion of Purgatory. 
But Beda is not satisfied with this tale : he goes 
on to tell of a Mercian noble, who would not go 
to confession. At the point of death, he sees two 

' Beda, H. E. t. 12. 


angelfl enter his room, bearing the record of his 
good deeds, which fill but a small roll: having 
caused him to read this, they make way for a 
crowd of fiends, black and foul, who bear the enor- 
mous tale of his sins of word, work and thought, 
which also he is compelled to read. Then the leader 
of the fiends turning to the sons of light exclaims, 
" Why sit ye here, knowing assuredly that he is 
ours ?" to which they reply, ** Ye say truly : take 
him, and lead him with you into the accumulation of 
your own damnation ! " Upon this the good spirits 
vanish) and two demons, a sort of Occidental Mun- 
kir and Nekir, smite him with ploughshares on the 
head and feet, and creep into him ; when they meet 
within him, he thes and passes into everlasting 
torments ^ This tale, which Beda heard from the 
venerable bishop Pecthelm^, he refines upon, ex- 
plains, and finishes by declaring that he relates 
simply for the salvation of those who shall read 
or hear it. No doubt the distempered ravings of 
monks, made half mad by inhuman austerities, un- 
natural restrictions, and wretched themes of con- 
templation, would in themselves be of little worth : 
we can comprehend the visions of a Saint Francis 
de Salis, an Ignatius Loyola, a Peter the Hermit, a 
Santa Theresa, and even more readily those of a 
Drihthelm or a Madame Guy on : but how shall 

^ Beda, H. £. v. 13. 

* The first Bishop of Whiterne in Galloway, who died in 737. Any 
one who desires to learn more of the miserable superstitions which Beda 
could recommend, may see the account of Fursaeus (H. £. iii. 19), and 
the MS. lives of the saint of which Mr. Stevenson has given a notice 
in his edition of Beda, pp. 197, 199, notes. 


388 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

we understand the record of them by a Beda or a 
Fenelon ? 

Such authority as this was likely to be followed 
with zeal ; once open, the career of unbridled fancy 
was sure to find no limit ; the more sure, since 
then as now, the fears and miseries of the mass 
were sources of profit to the few. Then as now, 
there were rogues found who dared to step between 
man and Grod, to clothe themselves in the coat 
without seam, to make themselves the mediators 
between eternal mercy and the perishing sinner. 
Accordingly in later times we find variation upon 
variation in the outline already so vigorously 
sketched ; Malmsbury furnishes an ample field for 
collectors of this kind of literature. I shall content 
myself here with citing from the so often quoted 
Salomon and Saturn two passages, which to me are 
redolent of heathendom, disguised after the fashion 
which has been described. 

Mseg simle se Godes cwidc Ever may the €rod*s word ' 

gumena geliwjlcum, for every man, 

ealra feonda gehwone every fiend 

fleonde gebriugaii, put to flight, 

6urh mannes miiti, through mouth of man, 

maufuha heap the troop of evil ones, 

sweartne geswenean ; the black troop, oppress ; 

naefre hie tJies sj'llice let them never so strangely 

bleoum bregdati change their colours 

eefter bancofan, in their body, 

fe^rhoman onfo$. or assume plumage. 

Hwilum flotau gripa^. Sometimes they seize the saflor, 

hwQum hie s:ewenda^ sometimes they turn 

* That is the Paternoster. 

CH. XII.] 




on Wynnes lie 
Boearpes and sticoles, 
stingaS n^ten 
feoh gestrdda^ ; 
hwflum hfe on wsetere 
wu^ gefani^gaiS, 
homum gehedwatS 
oStSaet him heortan bl<Sd, 
fibnig fl6des bsetS, 
ibldan ges^^. 
HwQom hie ge^stera;S 
fi%e8 monnes handa, 
gehefegaiS tSonne he 
«t hflde sceal 
jnH IdSwerud 

iwiliM hie on his weepne 
wsehmita hedlp. 

into the body of a snake 
sharp and piercing, 
they sting the neat 
going about the fields, 
the cattle they destroy ; 
sometimes in the water 
they jbow the horse, 
with horns they hew him 
until his heart* s blood, 
a foaming bath of flood, 
falls to the earth. 
Sometimes they fetter 
the hands of the doomed, 
they make them heavy when he 
is called upon in war, 
against a hostile troop 
to provide for his life : 
they write upon his weapon 
a heap of fatal marks ^ 

Again we are told, in the same composition : 
" And when the devil is very weary he seeketh the 
cattle of some sinful man, or an unclean tree ; or 
if be meeteth the mouth and body of a man that 
bath not been blessed with the sign of the cross, 
then goeth he into the bowels of the man who hath 
so forgotten, and through his skin and through his 
flesh departeth into the earth, and from thence 
findeth his way into the desert of hell*." 

NICOR. — ^To the class of elemental gods must 
originally have been reckoned the Nicor, or water- 
spirit, whose name has not only been retained in the 
Water Nixes of our own country, and in the Neck 

> Sal. Sat. pp. 143, 144. 

s Ibid. p. 149. 

390 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of Germany, but in our own common name for the 
devil, Old Nick. According to the account given in 
Be6wulf, these were supernatural, elvish creatures 
haunting the lakes, rivers and seas, ever on the 
watch to injure the wayfarer, and apparently en* 
dowed with the power of creating tempests. In this 
semi-Christian view they were fiendish and savage 
enemies of the sailor, whom they pursued with horns 
and tusks, dragged to the bottom of the waves mi 
then no doubt devoured\ Probably, like other su- 
pernatural beings dreaded by our forefathers, they 
were included in the family of ogres and monsters 
descended from the first homicide. Yet it may be 
doubted whether this was the original and heathen 
sense of the word Nicor. As late as the thirteenth 
century I find in an old German glossary Neckar 
translated by Neptunus, the god of the sea ; and it 
is notorious that one of the names borne by OJ?inn, 
whenever he appears as a sea-god is Hniku}'r and 
Nikuz. Hence it is not unlikely that in their 
ancient creed, the pagan Saxons recognized Nicor 
as Woden. The name Hwala which occurs in the 
genealogies, and like Geat may be assumed to be 
only another name of Woden, confirms this view. 
Hwala is formed from Hwael, cetus, just as Scyldwa 
is from Scyld, clypeus, and was probably only a 
name of Woden as a sea-god. The danger attend- 
ing the whale or walrus fishery^ made the first at 
least of these animals an object of superstitious 

* Beowiilf, /jcw^tm. 

^ The fisherman in iEliric's dialogue disclaims any intention of whale- 
fishing, on account of its dangers. Thorpe, Anal. p. 24. 


dread to the Anglosaxon sailor ; perhaps, as in the 
case of the bear, natural peculiarities which are 
striking enough even to our more scientific eyes, 
helped to give an exceptional character to the mo- 
narch of the Northern seas. Be this as it may, it 
is not without importance that Hwala should appear 
in the genealogies among names many of which 
are indisputably Wdden's, that in Scandinavia and 
Germany Nikuz or Necker should be names of the 
sea-god, and that till a very late period, — when 
the heathen gods bad everywhere assumed the garb 
of fiends and devils, — the Nicor should appear as 
the monster of the deep par excellence. The mira- 
culous power attributed to the Nicor, — in Bedwulf 
he is called '^ wundorlic wsegbora," a supernatural 
bringer of the waves, — ^is in itself evidence of earlier 
godhead ; and in this sense I am disposed to identify 
him with the demon marinus whom St. Gall defeated 
by his constant watchfulness. In his altered and 
degraded form we may also recognize the demon of 
the lines lately cited, who stabs the horse with his 
boms while crossing the water. The beautiful Nix 
or Nixie who allures the young fisher or hunter to 
seek her embraces in the wave which brings his 
death, the Neck who seizes upon and drowns the 
maidens who sport upon his banks, the river-spirit 
who still yearly in some parts of Germany demands 
tribute of human life, are all forms of the ancient 
Nicor ; but more genuine perhaps, — certainly more 
pleasing, — is the Swedish Stromkarl, who from 
the jewelled bed of his river, watches with delight 
the children gambol in^he adjoining meadows, and 

392 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book t. 

singing sweetly to them in the evening, detaches 
from his hoary hair the sweet blossonis of the wa- 
ter-lily, which he wafts over the surface to their 

H£L. — Among the fearful beings whose power 
was dreaded even by the gods, was Hel, mistress of 
the cold and joyless under-world. Called, through 
the fate of battle, to the glories of Waelheal, the 
Teutonic or Norse hero trembled at a peaceful 
death which would consign him to a dwelling 
more desolate and wretched than even that which 
awaited the fallen warriors of heroic Greece *, and 
many a legend tells of those whose own hand saved 
them from a futurity so abhorred ^. But Hel was not 
herself the agent of death ; she only received those 

' Odyssee, book xi. 

^ This is so completely familiar to the student of antiquity, that I 
shall not multiply examples : they may be found in Bartholinus. But 
one instance I may be excused for citing, inasmuch as it proves how 
long the heathen spirit survived despite the peaceful hope and promise 
of Christianity'. Henry of Huntingdon, in the sixth book of his history, 
relates of Sigeweard the great duke of Northumberland, that hearing 
of the loss of his son in battle, he exclaimed, " Recepit ne vulnus le- 
thale in anteriori vcl posteriori corporis parte ? Dixerunt nuntii : In 
anteriori. At ille : Gaudeo ])lane, non enim alio me, vel filium meum 
digner funei*e." In 1055 however, oppressed with sickness, he found 
that his desire was not to be fulfilled. *' Siwardus, consul rigidissimus, 
profluvio ventris ductus, mortem sensit imminere, dixitque : Quantus 
pudor me tot in bellis mori non potuisse, ut vaccarum morti cum de- 
decore reservarer ! Induite me saltern lorica mea impenetrabili, prac- 
cingitc gladio, sublimate galea : scutum in laeva, securim auratam mihi 
ponite in dextra, ut militum fortissimus modo militis moriar. Dixerat, 
ct ut dixerat, armatus honorifice spiritum exhalavit." Through every 
word of this passage breathes the old heathen spirit of Ilaralldr Hil- 
ditavn, and one feels that to Christianity alone it was owing, that Sige- 
weard did not prevent an inglorious by a voluntary violent death. 


who had not earned their seat in 0])in's hall by a 
heroic fall, and the Waelcyrian or Shieldmays were 
the choosers of the slain. The realm of Hel was all 
that Waelheal was not, — cold, cheerless, shadowy ; 
no simulated war was there, from which the com- 
batants desisted with renovated strength and glory ; 
no capacious quaighs of mead, or cups of the life- 
giving wine ; no feast continually enjoyed and mi- 
raculously reproduced ; no songs nor narratives of 
noble deeds ; no expectation of the last great battle 
where the einherjar were to accompany AUfather to 
meet his gigantic antagonists ; no flashing Shield- 
mays animating the brave with their discourse, and 
lightening the hall with their splendour : but chill 
and ice, frost and darkness ; shadowy realms with- 
out a sun, without song or wine or feast, or the 
soul-inspiring company of heroes, glorying in the 
great deeds of their worldly life. 

For the perjurer and the secret murderer Nd- 
strond existed, a place of torment and punishment 
— the strand of the dead — filled with foulness, 
peopled with poisonous serpents, dark, cold and 
gloomy : the kingdom of Hel was Hades, the in- 
visible, the world of shadows' : Nastrond was what 
we call Hell. Christianity however admitted no 
goddess of death, and when it was thought neces- 
sary to express the idea of a place of punishment 
after death, the Anglosaxon united the realm of 

' So the Greeks : 

*A<f>pM€£ poiovai, PpoT&p eldaXa Kafi6pr»p ; 

Odys. xi. 473. 

394 THE SAXONS IN ENOLiiND. [book i. 

HqI with Naatrond to complete a hideous prison 
for the guilty : the prevailing idea in the infernal 
regions of the Teuton is cold and gloom ^ ; the poi- 
sonous snakes, which waking or sleeping seem ever 
to have haunted the Anglosaxon, formed a conve- 
nient point of junction between his own tri^itional 
hell and that which he heard of from the pulpit» 
in quotations from the works of the Fathers ; and 
to these and their influence alone can it be attri- 
buted when we find flames and sulphur, and all the 
hideous apparatus of Judaic tradition, adopts by 
him. In this fact seems to me to lie a very import- 
ant mark of ancient heathendom* and one which the 
clergy themselves admitted, a belief in which they 
shared, and which they did not scruple to impress 
upon their flocks, even in spite of the contrary ten- 
dency of their authorities : it will be sufllcient to 
refer to the description given of hell in the poetic 
Salomon and Saturn, a composition redolent of 
heathendom : on the defeat of the rebel angels, it 
is said, God 

him helle gesc^p, for them he made hell, 

wfelcealde wic, a dwelling deadly cold, 

wintre be^Seahte : with winter covered : 

wseter insende water he sent in 

and wvrmgeardas, and snake-dwellings, 

atol deor monig many a foul heast 

f renum homum ; with horns of iron ; 

bliSdige eamas bloody eagles 

and blace ntedran ; and pale adders ; 

^ Fire was too cheerful in the North to be sufficiently an object of 
terror : it appemi«d otherwise in the East, where coofaieM is the greatest 
of luxuries. 


forst and hungor thirst and hunger 

and ye$xle gewin, and fierce conflict, 

dLcne egesan, mighty terror, 

mutStnisse. jojlessness'. 

Even in their more orthodox descriptions, eccle- 
siastical poets, though naturally adopting the Ju- 
daic notions, cannot always shake off the old, ha- 
bitual tradition of their forefathers, but recur to 
the frost, gloom and serpents of Ndstrond, and the 
realm of Hel ; of which a passage already quoted 
from Beda is ample evidence. 

As far as we can judge from the descriptions 
which survive, the Anglosaxons represented Hell to 
themselves as a close and covered dwelling, a prison 
duly secured as earthly prisons are by locks, bolts 
and bars'. But the popular fancy had probably 
even then adopted the notion of a monstrous beast 
whose mouth was the entrance to the place of tor- 
ment : this appears not only from the illustrations 
to Cesdmon ^, but from the common expression, so 
long current, of Hell -mouth. From this peculiar 
feature however we may believe that a remembrance 
still lurked among our forefathers of the gigantic 
or Titanic character of the ancient goddess, who, in 
Norse mythology, was Loki's daughter. In nearly 
every case, the word Hel in Anglosaxon, and espe- 
cially Anglosaxon prose, has merely the abstract 
sense we now give it ; but here and there a passage 

> Sal. Sat. p. 173. 

' Beda himself speaks of " infemi claustra" (H. £. v. 13), and for 
this there was supposed to he sufficient authority in the figurative ez- 
^pmdanM Matt. mri. 18. 

' Puhlished hy the Society of Antiquaries. 

396 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

may be found in which we discover traces of the 
personal meaning : thus perhaps in Bedwulf where 
we find these lines. 

8i6i$an drdunale^ when reft of joy 

in fenfreoSo in his fen-refuge 

feorh ile^dCf he his life laid down, 

h»t$ene sdwle, his heathen soul, 

6»r him Hel onfeng. there Hel reodred hiin\ 

However as a death in battle did not consign 
the warrior to Hel, it is usually Hild or Wig who 
is represented as ravishing away the doomed hero. 
Hel was no desired object, to be introduced into 
the epic as the portion of chieftains and kings. 

FATES. — ^The Northern creed, and, as it now 
seems established, the Grerman also, admitted the 
intervention between man and the gods, of subor- 
dinate deities or Fates. I call them subordinate from 
their peculiar position in the fragmentary portions 
of mythology that survive ; in their nature we must 
believe them to be of a higher order than the gods, 
who themselves are doomed one day to perish, and 
who can probably as little avoid their doom as men, 
the frailer creatures of their power. It may be that 
in this, different views prevailed among different 
classes of men ; the warlike princes and their fol- 
lowers, who exulted in tales of battle and feasting, 
may have been willing to see in OJ?inn the supreme 
disposer of events, while a deeper wisdom lurked 

> Beow. 1. 1698 : and perhaps similarly 1. 35/, " Helle gemundon," 
they worshiped Hel. 


in the sacerdotal songs that told how Ur^r, Wer- 
^andi and Skuld (the Norns of the Past, the Pre- 
sent and the Future) bore inevitable sway over the 
inhabitants of heaven and earth, and slowly waited 
for the period which was to confound gods, man and 
nature in one vast destruction'. The Norse view 
admits however of more than three Norns, though 
it names those only who have been mentioned ; 
and from the extraordinary relation of those three, 

' The Oreek Fatei rtc bUo three, ami staml id b very similar po*i- 
tion Unrards the Goda. Zcils himself is not eiecapt from their power. 
Prmnetheiu, it Is true, will not distinctlj' assert Zeus to be weaker than 
the Fates, but he nnswers very decisively that even Zeus cannot escape 
ha Fate. 

Xo. Tt't our avaynrjt tariy olaKocnpa^os ; 
Tip. Moipot Tpifxop<Pait prtn^opis r* 'Eplvyvtv- 
Xo. Tuw-eii' Sp Ztii fOTif anSffiaTipas ; 
Hp^ GiTkovc fiv tKtf}vyai yt r^v TTCTTptf/K^i'. 
The Mnifwi here are only ministers of a deeper necessity, yet they seem 
to wield it themselvts, and that it is inseparable from jtuticc seems to 
follow from the venerable goddesses being joined in the task. Plato 
however distinctly names three Mot^cu, the daughters of 'Kyayioj, who 
jpin the life of man : what is more to our purjtose is that to each of the 
three, the past, the present and the future ore severally distributed, 
Bi to Urtir, WerSandi and Skuld. He says, SiXat Si xuAj/iirac nipi£ 
di ttrov rptis, IV 6p6vt^ txaimjp, Bvyartpas r^f Avoyaiijr, yiaipvs, Xfv- 
j^ufiomitTas, rrrifipara nr! rav Kt^iaKCtv ix*ivoat, \aj(itTiv Tf irai KXuffv 
■o'l 'Srpoicoy, {/lunij trpit Tqi' rar StipqMii' dp/toviaii, Xax'im' fiif Tii 
ytyoinra. KXaSu S( TO iyra,' Krpairov &i ra fiiWoirra. The spindle 
however lie* and revolves upon the knees of 'AKrymj, De Repub. lib. x. 
The white garments, garlands and throne, aa well as the singing, are 
wanting to our Norns, but the resemblance in other respects is very 
striking. It dc«ervea notice also that the IVeird sisters in Macbeth are 
three ; and even the Odysscc may intend that number, 
(v6a 8' t-nttra 
TrticriToi aaoa o\ alaa KoraiikvOis Ti fiapi'iai 
yumpiiK^ yiiaanTO 'K'wif, art fiai Ttti /iijnjp. 
It is well known what controversy has arisen as to the real number of 
'Ep'innift iutemled by Jisehyliis in his Eumenidea. 

996 THE 8AXOX8 IN firGLAHb. [MOK U 

it can hsurdiv be doubted that the othen are 6f a 
diflBrent order ; tnoreorer it attributes human pai* 
sions to them which are hardly coDsisteUt with the 


fuoctioDS of the venerable Fates ; in this case it is 
possible that the Valkyriur, a race of bdngs whose 
functions might in some respects be confounded with 
those of the Nomir, have been so mixed up with 
them. Man, dealing with the daily aflUrs of trou- 
bled life, thinks more of the past than of the future : 
to him the present is the child of the past, the past 
the excuse for or cause of all he does and sufibrs ; 
his intellect comprehends the events that are com- 
pleted or in course of completion, but not the inde« 
finite, illimitable probabilities of the undiscovered 
to be ; hence perhaps Ur^r is considered the old- 
est and most powerful of the Fates ; her work is 
done, the others are doing or yet to do. Through 
this progress of opinion it became possible for the 
conception of the older Fate to include and finally 
supersede those of the others, as soon as the living 
belief in their personal agency became weakened. 
I do not know that any certain trace of these Fates 
can be found in the High-german countries ^ but 
in the Low-gertnan the eldest Norn still survives 
long after the introduction of Christianity, in a 
sense little removed at times from that of Necessity 
itself. That this should still have been coupled 
with a lively feeling of personality only proves how 
deeply rooted the old Heathen creed had been. In 

' Grimm, Mythol. p. 3/7, «loe8 not seem to lay much stress upon the 
two instances which he gives, one of which is extremely doubtful, and 
the other of no certain authority. 


the following instances from the Oldsaxon Hifljand S 
Wurth might almost in every case be replaced by 
d6d, mors: "Thiu Wurth is at handun, ddd is at 
hendi;" — the wierd'^^ or death, is at hand, i.e. so 
near that she might lay hold of the doomed. ** Thiu 
Wurth nahida thuo," — the wierd drew nigh. *' Wurth 
ina ben am," Wierd, i. e. the goddess of death, ra- 
vished him away; as in Anglosaxon we have Swylt 
benami Ded% benam, and similar expressions. 

The Anglosaxon equivalent is Wyrd, an express 
sion of the very commonest and most frequent oc- 
currence! It should however be borne in mind that 
there are two separate uses of this word, one a more 
abstract one, in which it is capable of being used 
in the plural, and which may generally be rendered 
eventus^, another more personal, similar to the Old- 
saxon Wurth f and in which it never occurs but in 
the singular^. In the following most remarkable 
passage the heathen and Christian thoughts are 

' H^and. Poema Saxonicum Saeciili Noni. Ed. A. Schmeller. Mu- 
nich, pp. 146, 2; 92, 2; 163, 16; 66, 18; 111, 4. 

* We are fortunate in being able to use not a translation of Wurth, 
but the word itself; I am not aware of its continuing to exist in any 
other German dialect. 

* Ne wiM wyrd "Sagen 

Vaet he mi m6ste 
manna cyhnes 

Mcgean ofer "Sa niht. (Be6w. 1. 1462.) 

Wyrd ne ctifSon. (Ibid. 1. 246?.) 

* One exception to be hereafter noticed seems more apparent than 
real. If however it be taken in its fullest and ordinary grammatical 
sense, it will show that all three or more sisters were in contemplation, 
and that the name of the eldest bad become a general expression for 
them all. 

400 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

strangely mingled, Wierd being placed in actual ap- 
position with God, 

swd he hyra md w61de 
nefhe him witig God, 
Wyrd fonit^de, 

**A8 he would more of them had not wise God, 
Wierd forstood him, and the man's courage." How 
very heathen the whole would be, were we only 
to conceive the word God an interpolation, which 
is highly probable ; nefne him witig — Wyrd for- 
stdde^ ! The following examples will show the use 
of Wyrd : — ** bine Wyrd fornam," — him Wierd ra- 
vished away' ; just as in other passages we have gu? 
fornam*. Wig ealle fornam*, swylt fomam*, dea? 
fornam^. * * Wyrd ungemete neah®," — Wierd was im- 
measurably near him ; as in the Oldsaxon passages 
above cited, and as Dea^ ungemete neah^ **Ac unc 
sceal weor^an set wealle, swa unc Wyrd geteo^, 
m^tod manna gehwses*^," — it shall befal us as Wierd 
decideth, the lord of every man'^ ** Swa him Wyrd 
ne gescraf ^^,'' — Wierd did not appoint. *' Ealle Wyrd 

» Beow. 1.2104. « Ibid. 1.2411. 

' Ibid. I. 2240. * Ibid. 1. 2154. 

' Ibid. 1. 2872. « Ibid. L 4234, 44GS. 

7 Ibid. I. 4836. » Ibid. 1. 5453. 

• Ibid. 1. 5048. 

^^ This is a most remarkable passage, for W\Td is distinctly called 
Metod, a word generally appropriated to God ; but I am disposed to 
think that Metten, another word for Fate, was uppermost in the poet's 
mind, — perhaps found in some heathen copy of the poem. " £>a graman 
mettena,'' saerae parcae. Boot. p. 161. (Rawl.) 

" Beow. 1. 5145. 


forsweopV — Wierd has swept away. " U's se6 
wyrdscy^e^, heard and hetegrim'," — us doth Wierd 
pursue, hard and grim in hate. 

These examples will suffice to show how tho- 
roughly personal the conception of Wierd remained ; 
and in this respect there is no difference whatever 
between the practice in Beowulf and in the more 
professedly Christian poems of the Exeter and 
Vercelli codices, or C<edmon. But one peculiarity 
remains to be noticed, which connects our Wierd 
in the most striking manner with the heathen god- 
desses generally, and the Scandinavian Nornir par- 
ticularly. We have seen that Wierd opposes, that 
she stands close to the doomed warrior, that she 
ravishes him away, that she sweeps away the power 
of men, that she decides or appoints the event, 
that she is hard and cruel and pursues her victims. 
But she also iveaves, weaves the web of destiny, as 
we can say even to this day without violence. It 
is necessary to give examples of this expression : 
"Me 'tSaet wyrd gewref^" — Wierd wove that for 
me; similar to which is, " Ac him dryhten forgeaf 
wigsp^da gewiofu*," — hut the Lord gave him 
the weft of victory ; where undoubtedly an ear- 
lier weaving Wyrd was thought of. " Donne sed 
Jjrag cyme^, wefen wyrd-stafura^," — when the time 
Cometh, woven with u'ierrf- staves, or letters, pro- 
bably runes. There is a remarkable passage in the 
same collection*', " Wyrmas mec ne awiefon, Wyrda 

' Beow. I. 5624, ' CoJ. Vercel. Anal. 1. 31^1. 

* Cod. Eion. p. 355. • Beow. 1. 1386. 

" Cod. Eson. p. 183. ' Ibid. p. 417- 
VOL. 1. 2d 

402 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

craeftum, ^a ^e geolo godwebb geatwum fr«twa^," 
— Worms wove me not, with the skill of WierdSj 
those namely which the yellow silk for garments 
beautifully form. Here weaving is especially put 
forward as that in which Wierd excels, her own 
peculiar craft and business ^ 

Spinning and weaving are the constant occupa- 
tion of Teutonic goddesses and heroines : Holda 
and Bertha spin^, and so do all the represeatatives 
of these goddesses in popular tradition even down 
to the fairies. But the Valkyriur or Shieldmays 
also weave, and in this function, as well as their 
immediate action in the battle-field, as choosers of 
the slain^, they have some points of contact with 
the Norns and Wyrd*. Gray has transferred to our 
language from the Nials Saga a fine poem^ which 
throws some light upon the weaving of the Valky- 
riur, the wigsp^da gewiofu. The Anglosaxon belief 
in the Shieldmaidens comes to us indeed in a dark- 
ened form, yet we can hardly doubt that it survived. 
The word Waelcyrge occurs in glossaries to explain 

^ 1 am almost iDclineil to think the words searoruna gcsjxm, the veb 
of various runes^ merely a jieriphrasis for wyrd^ taken in the abstract 
sense of «•«!/. Cod. Ex. p. 347. 

* " As terns ou Berte filait/' i. e. in a period anterior to the memory 
of man : in the days of heathendom, of the goddess Bertha, not the 

* W«?lcyrige is derived from Wiel the slain and ceoaaii to choose, 

* 1 do not know whether the expression Hine Wyrd g«?eas, can be 
found in Saxon jK>otn- ; but ceosan is a ven* common word in phrases 
denoting death, though by Christian poets transferred to the doomed 
hero, from the irotl or goiUlej^:? : a'r ^n for^cure. wintrum wael reste. 
Canlm. p. 99. " Priusquam annis ~i. e. vita] praetulent mortiferam 

* The Fatal sisters. See vol. i. p. 70, Mitford*s cditxHi. 


Belhna^ the goddess of war, and one gloss calls 
eyes Waelcyrigean, gorgonei, terrible as those of 
Grorgo ; the flashing of the eyes was very probably 
one mark of a Waelcyrge in the old belief*, as she 
floated or rode above the closing ranks of battle. 
In the superstitions of a later period however we 
find a clear allusion to these supernatural maidens. 
A spell preserved in a Harleian manuscript^ con- 
tains the following passages : 

mtide ws^ron hi U hldde, U h^ 
ofer tSone hl»w ridon ; 
wseron amndde, 6d h^ 
ofer land ridon. 

** Loud, lo ! loud were they, as they jode over 

* When Dorr visits Drymr under the disguise of Freya, the giant is 
suspicious of the flashing eyes which he sees under the veil. Loki ex- 
plahis them hy the sleeplessness arising from Freya's desire for the 
giant's embraces. 

Laut und Unu 
lysti at ky ssa ; 
en hann ^tan stokk 
endlangan sal: 
*' Hwl eru onddtt 
augu Freyju ? 
Hkki m^ or augum 
eldr of brenna !" 

Sat in alsnotra 

amb6tt fyriry 

er orS um fiEum 

vit$ jotuns m£li : 

" Svaf vaetr Freyja 

l^tta n6ttum, 

sva var hon o'Sfds 

i jotunheima." 

Hamarsheimt. xxvii. xxviii. 

* MS. Harl. 585, fol. 186. 


404 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

the hill ; bold were they, as they rode over the 

St6d under linde 
under le<5htum scylde 
^»r 6a mihtdgan w(f 
hyra msegen ber»ddon, 
and h^ gyUende 
gdras sendon. 

"I stood beneath my linden shield, beneath my 
light shield, where the mighty women exercised 
their power, and sent the yelling javelins ! " An- 
other spell from a MS. in Corpus Christi College, 
Cambridge, appears to name them more distinctly : 

Sitte ge, sigewff, 
siga^ t6 eorSan, 
nsefre ge wilde 
t6 wuda flecSgan ; 
he6 ge swA gemindige 
mines g6des, 
swa bi9 manna gehwilc 
metes and (5^eles. 

** Sit, ye victorious women (or women of victory) 
descend to earth, never fly ye wildly to the wood : 
be ye as mindful of good to me, as every man is of 
food and landed possession." Grimm has remarked 
with great justice ^ that the sigewif here recalls the 
names of Waelcyrian, Sigrdrifa, Sigrun and Sigr- 
linn. I certainly see in Sigewif, women who give 
victory ; and the allusion to the tvild flight and the 
wood are both essentially characteristic of the Wael- 

* D. Myth. p. 402. He cites this spell, but proposes on grammati- 
cal grounds to read wille for wilde. If any change is necessary I should 
prefer /<<^?». 



cyrian, whom Saxo Gramraaticus calls /eminoc and 
nymphae syhestres. For many examples of this 
peculiar character, it is sufficient to refer to the 
Deutsche Mythologie'. 

mogony of the Pentateuch was necessarily adopted 
by the Saxon converts ; yet not so entirely as to 
exclude ail the traditions of heathendom. In the 
mythology of the Northern nations, the creation 
of the world occupied an important place : its de- 
tails are recorded in some of the most striking lays 
of the earlier Edda ; and several of them appear 
unconsciously to have acted upon the minds of our 
Christian poets. The genius of the Anglosaxons 
does not indeed seem to have led them to the 
adoption of those energetic and truly imaginative 
forms of thought which the Scandinavians proba- 
bly derived from the sterner natural features that 
surrounded them : the rude rocks and lakes of 
Norway and Sweden, the volcanos, hot springs, 
ice plains and snow-covered mountains of Iceland, 
readily moulded the Northmen to a different train 
of thought from that which satisfied the dwellers 
in the marshlands of the Elbe and the fat plains of 
Britain. But as in the main it cannot be doubted 
that the heathendom of both races was the same, 
so even in many modes of expression we meet with 
a resemblance which can hardly be accidental. 
Like almost every other people , the Northmen con- 

' Deue. Mytli. |), 40l,»#fl. 

406 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [boos i. 

sidered a gigantic cbaos to have preceded the world 
of order. While the giant Ymer lived, the earth 
was '* without form and void." listen to the words 
of the Vaulu Spa, or Prophetess's Song : 

A'r var alda When Ymer dwelt here, 

)>ar er Y'mir bygSi : 'twai the dawn of time : 

vara sandr n6 sser cool streams were not, 

n€ svalar unnir : neither sands, nor seas : 

jort$ fannsk seva earth was not 

n6 upphuninn, nor o'er it heaven, 

gap yar ^nnunga, yawned the gap, 

en gras hyergi ^ and grass was nowhere. 

The sons of Bur however, OJ^inn, Vile and Ve, 
created the vast Midgard, or realm of earth: 

S61 skein sunnan The sun shone southward 

& salar steina, on the stone halls, 

pd var grund gr6in then was earth grown 

groenum lauki «. with green produce. 

• The- constellations however as yet had no ap- 
pointed course : 

S61 fat ne vissi But the sun knew not 

hvar hon sali atti, where her seat should be, 

mani pat ne yissi and the moon knew not 

hvat hann megins atti, what his might should be, 

stjdmur fat ne vissu planets knew not 

hyar f ser staCi ittu «. where their place should be. 

So the holy Gods went to council, and divided 
the seasons, giving names to night and noon aijd 
morning, to undern and evening, that the years 
might be reckoned '*. 

» Vaulu Spa, st. '^. « Ibid. st. 4. 

^ Ibid. 8t. 5. * Ibid. 8t. 6. 



The construction of the world out of the frag- 
ments of Ymer's body, the doctrine of the ash 
Yggdrasil, and of wondrous wells beneath its roots, 
could of course find no echo here, after the conver- 
sion. But it is very remarkable how nearly the 
description of creation given in Caedmon sometimes 
coincides with the old remains of heathendom : 

Ne wtts h6r H&^et 
n7ini$e hedlstenceado 
wiht geworden, 
ac ^es wida grund 
8t6d de<$p and dim, 
drihtne fremde, 
(del and unnyt ; 
on tkme dlgiun wUt 
stiSfrihd cining, 
and 6a stowe behe61d 
dredma ledse. 
G^eseah deorc gesweorc 
■6iniaa linnihte, 
sweart under rodenun, 

wonn and w6ste 

folde wees ^^Igyt 
gnes ungr6ne ; 
g^brsecg )>eahte 
Bweart lynnibte 
wide and side 
wonne wsegas*. 

There had not here as yet 

save cavern shade 

aught existed, 

but this wide abyss 

stood deep and dim, 

strange to its lord, 

idle and useless ; 

on which looked with his eyes 

the king firm of mood, 

and beheld the place 

devoid of joys. 

He saw the dark cloud 

lour in endless night, 

swart under heaven, 

dusky and desert 

the earth was yet 
not green with grass ; 
but ocean covered 
dark in endless night 
far and wide 
the dusky ways. 

Then follows the creation of light, the separation 
of evening from morning, and the production of 
organic life, as in the first chapter of Genesis. The 
Wida grund, or vast abyss, is the Ginnunga gap, 
yawning gulf, of the Edda, and a very remarkable 

^ Cndm. p. 7> 1. 8 ^^q. 

408 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

parallel lies in the assertion that there was no grass 
anywhere to make green the earth. 

The world was created out of the portions of 
Ymer's body ; but it seems to be a remnant of an- 
cient heathendom when we find in later times a 
tradition that Man was created out of the great 
natural portions of the world itself. An ancient 
Frisic manuscript quoted by Grimm in Haupt's 
Altdeutsche Blatter^ says, " Grod sc6p thene ^resta 
meneska, thet was Adam, fon achta wendem ; thet 
benete fon tha st^ne, thet fldsk fon there erthe, thet 
bldd fon tha wetere, tha herta fon tha winde, thene 
thochta fon tha wolken, thene suet fon tha dawe, 
tha lokkar fon tha gerse, tha dgene fon there suiina, 
and tha bl^rem on thene helga dm.'* That is, — God 
created him of eight things : his bones from stone, 
his flesh from earth, his blood from water, his heart 
from wind, his thought from cloud, his sweat from 
dew, his hair from the grass, his eyes from the 
sun, and then breathed into him the breath of life. 
In the prose Salomon and Saturn we are also told 
that Adam was created of eight pounds by weight : 
a pound of earth from whence his flesh ; a pound 
of fire, whence his red and hot blood ; a pound of 
wind, whence his breathing ; a pound of cloud, 
whence his unsteadiness of mood ; a pound of grace, 
whence his stature and growth ; a pound of blos- 
soms, whence the variety of his eyes ; a pound of 
dew, whence his sweat ; and a pound of salt, whence 
his salt tears^ 

* Vol. i. Part i. p. 1. 

* See the Author's edition, p. 181, and the not^s at p. 194. 


But a much more striking proof of heathendom 
lies in the Anglosaxon belief that after the destruc- 
tion of this creation a more beautiful one would 
arise ; not only a metaphysical kingdom of heaven, 
but a concrete world like our own, on a more im- 
posing and glorious scale. It was the belief of the 
Northmen that in the closing evening of the ages, 
the Ragna-rauk, or twilight of the Gods, the old 
Titanic powers would burst their fetters ; Loki, the 
Northern Satan, would be released from his bond- 
age ; Midgard's orm, the serpent that surrounds 
the world, would rise in his giant fury ; the wolf 
Fenrir would snap his chain and move against the 
gods ; the ship Naglfar, made of the nails of the 
dead, and steered by Loki, would convey the sons 
of Muspelheim to Vigrid, the plain on which this 
heathen Armageddon was to be fought : at their 
head the terrible Surtr, the black, the destroyer of 
the gods, beneath whose sword of fire the whole 
world should perish. 

KJ611 ferr austan. Eastward the ship 

koma munu Muspells shall shape its journey, 

um laug ly^ir. Muspell's sons 

en Loki styrir'. the sea shall travel, 

o'er the lakes shall 

Loki steer her. 

OJ^inn, Thdrr, and the other gods shall perish, 
but not unrevenged : the wolf and the serpent will 
fall, one by the hands of Vi^arr, OJ?in's son, the 
other under the terrible battle-maul of Thdrr. The 

^ Vaula Sp&, 8t. 50. 



[book I. 

sun and moon and earth will be destroyed, and the 
ash Yggdrasil wither under the flames of Surtr. 

S61 tekr sortna, 
sfgr fold { mar, 
hverfk af himni 
heitSar atjtfrnur ; 
geisar eimr 
yi^ aldmdra, 
leikr hdr hiti 
viS bimin sj^fan ^ 

Black wanes the sud, 

in waves the earth shaU sink, 

fVom heaven shall fall 

the friendly 0tan ; 

round the tree 

red fire shall rustle, 

high heat play 

against the heaven. 

But the Gods will be found again in I^avelli; 
the earth will arise again from the ocean ; the sun 
that perished will have left a yet more beauteous 
daughter to perform her task ; the deities will re- 
member their ancient power, and the secrets of the 
great god ; the golden tablets will be found in the 
grass; Baldr, the slain god, will arise from the 
tomb ; Havdr, that unconsciously slew him, will 
return with him from the realms of Hel, the god- 
dess of the dead. Vi^arr and Vale, sons, or rather 
new births of OJ?inn ; Mode and Magne, sons of 
Th6rr, will survive the universal destruction ; All- 
father's glorious kingdom will be renewed, and the 
power of death and evil vanish for ever. 

S^r hon uppkoraa 
o^ru sinni, 
j6r8 or OBgi 

Eina dcSttur 

herr Alfr6«ull 

d5r hana Fenrir fan ; 

Then sees she rise 
a second time 
the world from ocean 
wondrous green. 

One bright child shall 
bear ATfrotJull, 
ere her form doth 

» Vaulu Spa, st. 56. 

* n>id. St. 57- 



sd skal rftSa, 

p& er regin deyja, 

m69ur braatir maer*. 

Fiiuiask MAt 
& It$ayelli, 
ok um mold]>inur 
m^tkim doema, 
ok minxuiak )»ar * 
& m^grnddmii, 
ok A fimbult;^a 
fornar rdnar. 

)mr mnnu eptir 
gulliiar toflur 
f grasi finnask, 
|>ttni i irdaga 
Attar hof^tt 
fdlkyaldr goSa 
ok Fjobiig kind. 

Mnnu 68^mr 

akrar vaxa, 

bolfl mun alls batna, 

Baldr mun koma ; 

bda l^eir ^gSr ok Baldr 

Hropts sigtdptir 

¥el valtiyar*. 

Sal 8^r hon standa 
mHu fegra, 
gulli ]>akt$an 
i Oimli t 

Fenrir ruin ; 

thus shall go, 

when gods have perished, 

the maiden on 

her mother's journey. 

iEsir meet 
in I^avelli, 
doom with power 
the great disasters, 
there remember 
mighty judgements, 
and Fimbult^rs 
former secrets. 

After, shall be 
all together 
found in the grass 
the golden tablets, 
which in time past 
possessed among them 
gods that ruled 
the race of Odin. 

Then im>owi) 
the swath shall flourish, 
all bale mend, and 
back come Baldr : 
with him H6<5r dwell 
in Hropter's palace, 
shrines of godii 
the great and holy. 

There sees she stand 
than sunlight fairer, 
GimH's hall 
with gold all coTered : 

* Waf}yrudiiis M&l, st. 47. A'lfr5^ul is a name of the Sun, and is 
■aid to denote divine splendour, Edd. Lex. Myth, in yo^. 

• Vaulu Spd. St. 67, 58, 69, 60. 


|>ar skolu dyggvar there the just shall 

(InSttir byggja, joy for ever, 

ok um aldrdaga and in pleasure 

yntSis. nj6ta * . pass the ages. 

The conviction that the virtuous would rejoice 
with God in a world of happiness was of course not 
derived by our forefathers merely from their hea- 
thendom ; but to this we may unhesitatingly refer 
their belief, that after doomsday the sun and moon 
would be restored with greater splendour. The 
Saxon Menology* says very distinctly : 

''At doomsday, when our Lord shall renew all 
creatures, and all the race of men shall rise again, 
and never more commit sin, then will the sun shine 
seven times brighter than she now doth, and she 
will never set ; and the moon will shine as the son 
now doth, and never will wane or wax, hut stand 
for ever on his course^." That this belief was not 
unknown in Gfermanv mav be arsiied from an ex- 
pression of FVeidank, 

Gol himel und »de \mi xer^an, 
unc wil denubch ftn schc«Kfi han*. 

Dim and fra^nnentarv as these ravs of li^t mav be 
which $tnii:^e to us through the veiU of b3rgone 
;Jice«. it is imix>ssihle not to r^rognize in them traces 
iM^ th^t primjev^U taith which teaches the respon- 
^biUty v>t^ m^m. the mle o£ j;tst and holy beings 

> *x>i S^ «- ?^ - MS. Ov-t?. Omic Njl ir?. 


superior to himself, and a future existence of joy 
and sorrow, the ultimate consequence of human 
actions. With what amount of distinctness this 
great truth may have been placed before their eyes, 
we cannot tell, but it is enough that we see it ad- 
mitted in one of the most thoroughly heathen poems 
of the Edda, and con6rmed by an Anglosaxon tradi- 
tion totally independent of Christianity. Weak as 
it is while unsupported by the doctrine of a graci- 
ous Redeemer, it is not wholly inoperative upon the 
moral being of men ; and its reception among the 
nations of the North must have tended to prepare 
them for the doctrine which in the fulness of time 
was to supersede their vague and powerless desires 
by the revelation of the crucified Saviour. 

HEROES. — It now remains that we should be- 
stow a few words upon the heroic names which 
figure in the Epopcea of the North, and which pro- 
bably in many cases belong to the legends and the 
worship of gods now forgotten, or which at least 
represent those gods in their heroic form and cha- 
racter; even as the Iliad in Achilles may celebrate 
only one form of the Dorian Apollo, and the le- 
gends of Cadmus and Theseus may be echoes from 
an earlier cult of Jupiter and Neptune. 

The hero Scyld or Sceldwa' has been mentioned 
as the godlike progenitor of the Scyldingas, the 
royal race of Denmark ; but he also appears among 
the mythical ancestors of Woden, in the genealogy 

' From which fonn n 
Wudu, Duru). 

t conclude for the reiding Si-j-ldu (as 

414 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of Wessex. It is a singular fact that the Anglo- 
saxons alone possess the fine mythus of this hero ; 
the opening division or canto of Bedwulf relates of 
him that he was exposed as a child in a ship upon 
the ocean ; a costly treasure accompanied the sleep- 
ing infant as he floated to the shores of the Gar- 
danes, whose king he became ; after reigning glo* 
riously and founding a race of kings, he died, and 
was again sent forth in his ship, surrounded with 
treasures, to go into the unknown world, from 
which he came ; he came to found a royal raceS 
and having done so, he departs and nothing more 
is known of him. That this mjrthus was deeply 
felt in England appears from its being referred 
to even bv the later chroniclers : -fi^lweard* and 
Malmsbury^ mention it at length, and a desire to 

* fkme God sendc whom God tent 

folce to frofre, to the people for their comfort, 

f>TenKmrfe ongemt the evil need he nndentood 

^« hie ler drugon which they before hmd suffered 

iddoHease. while without m king. 

Beow. 1. 26. 
^ JE^^lw. hb. iii. He mttributes the legend to Sceaf. Scrid's Cither; 
his words are : ** Ipse Scef cum uno dromone adrectus est in insult 
oeeani quae ilicitur Scani. armis cireumdatus, eratque Talde recens 
(Hier. et ab inc<^ illius terrme ignotus ; attamen ab eis suscipitiir, et ut 
famiUarem diligenti auimo eum custodierunt. et post in regem digunt : 
de cuius pn>sa{>ia ordmem trahit Athulf rex." 

^ Malmsburk Gest. Reg. ii. llt>^ adds another pecuharitr to the le- 
geml. >» hioh howerer he gtres to Sceaf. Scyld's £uher ; be sarss ** Ute. 
ut tVruut. lu quaudam lusulam Germauiae Scandzam. de qua Jordanes 
histonv^graphus Gothor\iin loquitur, appulsus, nari sine renij^« poeru- 
lus« potsito ad caput frumenii manipukv dormienss ideoque Seeaf bikb- 
ciq,\acus, ab hv^mmibus rvgtouis iilius pro miiaculo excepciuv et aedalo 
uuthtus, ailulta achate nr^!iaiv:r ia opptdo quod tunc Slasrie, none 
vero Uaitbebi a^>^^rILitur. Est autem Kgio lUa Angtia Vents dicta, 
unde .Vzigli Tcnenmt m Bntanniam, mter Saxoi»e« et 


engraft a national upon a biblical tradition not only 
causes Sceaf to be called by some authors the son 
of Shem, but leads to the assertion of the Saxon 
chronicle that Sceaf was the son of Noah, born in 
the arkS in obvious allusion to the miraculous ex- 
posure on the waters. The mention of Scani by 
iE%elweard may be taken in connection with a 
Norse tradition that Skjold was Skanunga gojf, a 
god of the Scanings. An Anglosaxon riddle in the 
Codex Exoniensis ^, and of which the answer seems 
to me to be only a shield, concludes with the very 
remarkable words, 

nama min is insure, mighty is my name, 

ludetSom gifre> rapacious among men, 

and hiilig sylf. and itself holy. 

The second line seems to exclude the supposition of 
there being any reference to Almighty God, though 
Scyld, like Helm, is one of his names, examples 
of which are numerous in all Anglosaxon poetry. 
There are one or two places in England which bear 
the name of this god or hero : these are Scyldes 
tredw*, Scyldmere*, and Sceldes hedfda* ; but ex- 
cept in the genealogy of Wessex and the tradition 
recorded by -^^elweard and Malmsbury, there is 
no record of Sceaf. 

As in the poem of Bedwulf, Scyld is said to have 

tuta." Wendover (Flor. Ilist.) copies Malmsbury, with the explana- 
tion of the name Sceafa, from Sceaf a sheaf of corn ; others derived it 
from scdfan, trudere, *' quia fortunae commissus." Die Stammtafcl der 
Westsachsen, p. 33. 

* " Se wais geboren in "Sare earce Noes." Chron. Sax. 855. 

' Cod. Exon. p. 407. » Cod. Dipl. No. 436. 

* Ibid. No». 356, 762, * Ibid. No. 721. 

416 THE SAXONS Di ENGLAND. [book i. 

a son called Beowulf from whom the kings of Sles- 
wig are descended, so in the genealogy of Wessex, 
Scyld is followed by Beaw : there is some uncer- 
tainty in the form of the name, but upon compa- 
rison of all the different versions given by various 
chroniclers, we may conclude that it was Beowa or 
Be6w, a word equivalent to Be6wulf. The original 
divinity of this person is admitted by Grimm, but 
he suffers himself to be misled by some over-skilful 
German lexicographer who has added Beewolf to 
the list of English names for the woodpecker, and 
would render Be6wulf as a sort of Latin Picus. 
I am not aware that any bird in England was ever 
called the beewolf ^ or that there are any supersti- 
tions connected with the woodpecker in England, 
as there are in Germany ; the cuckoo and the 
magpie are our birds of augury. When Grimm 
then declares himself disposed not to give up the 
termination -wulf in the name, he has only the 
authority of the poem on his side, in defence of his 
theory : against which must be placed every other 
list or genealogy ; and it seems to me that these 
are strongly confirmed by the occurrence of a place 
called, not Beowulfes ham, but Beowan ham^ in 
immediate connection with another named Grendles 
mere^. Whatever the name, this hero was looked 
upon as the eponymus of various royal races, and 
this, though the names which have survived are 
obviously erroneous^, is distinctive of his real cha- 

> Cod. Dipl. No. 353. » n)id. 

v^oa. i/ipi. i^o. ooo, 

Stammtafel der Westsachsen, p. 18 seq. 


There are various other heroes mentioned in the 
poem of Bedwulf and iu the Traveller's Song, some 
remembrance of which is still preserved in local 
names in various parts of England. A few words 
may not be misplaced respecting them. In the 
first>named poem, the hero's lord and suzerain is 
invariably named Hygelac ; after whose death Beo- 
wulf himself becomes king of the Geatas. As Hy- 
gelac is said to have perished in fight against the 
Franks, and as history records the fall of a Danish 
king Cliochilachus in a predatory excursion into 
the Prankish territory about the beginning of the 
seventh century', Outzen, Leo and others have 
identified the two in fact as well as name, and 
drawn conclusions as to the mythical hero, from 
the historical prince. The coincidence is not con- 
clusive : if Hygelac's name were already mythical 
in the seventh century, it may easily have been given 
to any leader who ventured a plundering expedition 
into the Prankish territory, especially as the war- 
like records of an earlier Hygelac would be certain 
to contain some account of Prankish forays : nor 
was Hygelic, in Danish Hugteikr', by any means 
an uncommon name. On the other hand, if we 
admit the historical allusion, we must assign a date 
to, at any rate, that episode of the poem which is 
hardly consistent with its general character. I am 

' Leo, in his Beotmlf, p. 5, cites Orcgor. Turon. iii. 3, and the Gest. 

Reg. Pr&QCoruffi, cap. 1^, for the itetoila of Cocliilacb's invaaiou and 

> The uftmc HiUildk, ^vea In Lungebekc, and hy Geijer, from tlie 
Yiigliiig& Saga, aa Hugkck. Hist. Swed. p. 378, tab. ii. 
VOL. I. 2 E 


therefore inclined to think that in this instance, as 
in so many others, an accidental resemblance has 
been too much relied upon : it is in fact quite as 
likely (or even more likely) that the historian should 
have been indebted to the legend, than that the 
poet should have derived his matter from history. 
It does seem probable that Hygeldc enjoyed a my- 
thical character among the Germans: in the " Alt- 
deutsche Blatter " of Moriz Haupt ', we find the fol- 
lowing statement, taken from a MS. of the tenth 
century. *' De Getarum rege Huiglauco mirae 
magnitudinis. — £t sunt mirae magnitudinis, ut rex 
Huiglaucus, qui imperavit Getis et a Francis oc- 
cisus est, quern equus a duodecimo anno portare 
non potuit, cuius ossa in Rheni fluminis insula, ubi 
in oceanum prorumpit, reservata sunt et de longin- 
quo venientibus pro miraculo ostenduntur." 

But Hygelac is not known in Germany only: 
even in England we have traces of him in local 
names : thus Hygelaces geat^, which, as the name 
was never borne by an Anglosaxon, — so far at 
least as we know, — speaks strongly for bis mytlii- 
cal character. That the fortunes, under similar 
circumstances, of a historical prince, of the same 
name or not of the same name, should have become 
mixed up with an earlier legend, is by no means 
unusual or surprising. 

Another hero of the Beowulf cycle is Hnaef the 
Hoeing, whose fate is described in a fine episode ^ 
and is connected with the poem called *'The battle 

» Book V. part i. p. 10. « Cod. Dipl. No. 566. 

' Beow. 1. 2130 seg. 


of Finnesburh K'' Of him too England has some- 
thing to tell : I find a place was called Hnaefes scylf ', 
and further that there was aHdces by rgels^, obviously 
not a Christian burial-place, a Hdces hdm ^, and a 
H6cing meed^. But unless resemblances greatly 
deceive us, we must admit that this hero was not 
entirely unknown to the Franks also ; Charle*' 
magne's wife Hiltikart, a lady of most noble 
blood among the Swaefas or Sueves (' ' nobilissimi 
generis Suavorum puella ") was a near relation of 
Kotofrit, duke of the Alamanni ^ : in her genealogy 
occur the names Huocingus and Nebi in imme- 
diate succession, and it seems difficult not to see in 
these Hoeing and Hnsef. If, as has been suggested, 
the Hdcings were Chauci or Frisians, their con- 
nexion with the Sueves must be of an antiquity 
almost transcending the limits of history, and 
date from those periods when the Frisians were 
neighbours of the Swaefas upon the Elbe, and long 
before these occupied the highlands of Germany, 
long in fact before the appearance of the Franks in 
Gaul, under Chlodio. 

Among the heroes of heathen tradition are Wada> 
Weland and Eigils. All three, so celebrated in the 
myth us and epos of Scandinavia and Germany, have 
left traces in England. Of Wada the Traveller's 

^ Printed in the fint volume of the author's edition of Be6wulf, 
p. 238. 
« Cod. Dipl. No. 595. ' Ibid. No. 1267. 

* Ibid. No. 1142. » Ibid. No. 1091. 

• Thegan. vit. Hliidov. Pertz, Mon. ii. 590, 591. Eginhart, § 18. 
Pertz, Mon. ii. 4c2, 453. 




Song declares that he ruled the Helsings ' ; and even 
later times had to tell of Wade's boat', iq which 
the exact allusion is unknown to us: the Scandi- 
navian story makes him wade across the Groeoa- 
sund, carrying his son upon his shoulder ; perhaps 
our tradition gave a different version of this peril- 
ous journey. The names of places which record his 
name are not numerous, but still such are found, 
thus Wadanbeorgas *, Wadanhlicw*. It is other- 
wise, however, with his still more celebrated son, 
Weland, the Wieland of German, Volundr of Norse 
and Galand of French tradition. Weland is the 
most famous of smiths, and all good swords are his 
work. In Beowulf, the hero when about to engage 
in a perilous adventure, requests that if he falls his 
coat-of-mail may be sent home, Welandes geweorc, 
either literally the work of Weland, or a work so ad- 
mirable that Weland might have made it ^. .iElfred 
in his Boetius*^ translates jidelts ossa Fabricii by 

' Line«. See also Coil, Eson. pp.320.5H. Ettmuller, SdSpei 

' CliiLucer once or twice refen to this iu such a nay ta to tkavr tlmt 
the expression was uscil in an oliaecne ucosi-. OUl nomeu, he u_t>, 
"connen so moche crnft in (Vadei bole," Again of PanilaniB : 

" He song, he plaied, be told a tale of Wade." ^H 

Trail. Creuid. ^M 
111 tlii« there seems to lie some allusion to vihat onatomiHts Ii^H 
termed fossa naviailaris, though what immeiliate connection tlU!^' 
could be with the mythical Wads, now cscniies us. It u suUicicnlly re- 
mofkable that the Greeks made a similar application of trua^T. 
ii voyKojunvyav BiifUTtpov Sirav ycyos' 
ovt Ml d<p' Jiiiiiv (lo-i* at TpayijifSiai , 
ouSii" yip itrfiif irX^i- iroirtidaiu koI ana^. 
Aristopli. Lysis 
' Cod. Dipl. No, 55. * Ihid. No, 18. 

' Betjw. I. <)U1 seq. ° Uoet. de Cons. 

•. 137. ' 



" ^jes wisan goldsmiSes ban Welondes," where, as 
Grimm' observes, the word Fabricius {faher) may 
have led him to think of the most celebrated of 
smiths, Weland. The use made by Sir W, Scott of 
Welaod's name must be famiUar to all readers of 
Kenilworth : from what has been said it will ap- 
pear how mistaken in many respects his view was. 
The place in Berkshire which even yet in popular 
tradition preserves the name of Wayland smith, is 
nevertheless erroneously called ; the boundary of a 
Saxon charter names it much more accurately 
Welandes snii^^e, i. e. Weland's smithy, his work- 
shop*. The legend of Weland, identical in many 
respects with that of the Wilkina Saga and other 
Northern versions, is mentioned in the Cod. Exon, 
p. 377. Here we find notice taken of his mutila- 
tion by Ni^audr, the violence done by him to Bod- 
hildr, and other acts of his revenge*, all in fact that 
ia most important in this part of his history. Grimm 
reminds me'' that the Wilkina Saga makes Weland 

' D. Myth, p. 351. ' Cod. Dipl. Xo. 1172. 

* Weland him be wunnan 
nnccea cunuHde 

siJSfian hbc NiShad on 
D^de legde 
BwoncTG seoDobandc, 
ODiyllui mon. 

Beadoliilde iie wen 

hjre brfiSra dc&S 

on scfan una air 

BTva hyrc sylfra Mug, 

Sart heu gearoliee 

oogieten hicfdc 

fast heo c&rea nieB, etc. 


the constructor of a wondrous boat, and that the 
act of the son may thus have been transferred to 
the father, Weland's boat to Wade. 

In the Northern tradition appears a brother of 
Weland, namejl Eigil or Egil, who is celebrated as 
an archer, and to whom belongs the wide-spread 
tale which has almost past into accredited history 
in the case of William Tell ; this tale given by Saxo- 
Grammaticus to Toko, by the Jomsvikinga Saga 
to Palnatoki, and by other authorities to other 
heroes from the twelfth till the very end of the fif- 
teenth century, but most likely of the very high- 
est antiquity in every part of Europe, was beyond 
doubt an English one also, and is repeated in the 
ballad of William of Cloudesley : it is therefore pro- 
bable that it belongs to a much older cycle, and 
was as well known as the legends of Wada and 
Weland, with which it is so nearly connected. Ei- 
gil would among the Anglosaxons have borne the 
form of Mgel, and accordingly we find places 
compounded with this name, — thus -^glesbyrig, 
now Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire ; iEglesford, 
now Aylsford in Kent ; iEgleslona, in Worcester^ 
iEgleswur^, now Aylsworth in Northamptonshire^; 
also ^gleswyl ; and lastly Aylestone in Leicester- 

The Wilkina Saga and the Scald's Complaint 
already cited from the Codex Exoniensis, lead us 
next to the legends of Deodric (Dietrich von Bern) 
and Eormenric, (Hermanaric,) and through the lat- 
ter to Sigfried and the other heroes of the Nibe- 

» Cod. Dipl. No. 649. » Ibid. Not. 691, 423. 


lungen cycle. The heroic or even godlike character 
of Dietrich has been well made out by Grimm', and 
the historical Theodoric the Ostrogoth vanishes in 
his traditional representative. The Anglosaxon 
poet evidently refers to the latter, not indeed from 
the story he tells, but from the coftcation of De6- 
dric among merely mythical personages. Perhaps, 
as the whole scope of his poem is to relate the mis- 
fortunes of the great and thus draw consolation for 
his own, the thirty years' residence in Mreringa- 
burg may be considered as a reference to Deodric's 
flight from before Otachar^ and long-continued 
exile. In a Saxon menology* of great antiquity, 

' D. Mj-th. |). ■M(>. 

* The Ililtibrants Lied says, 

Hiltibrant haecti min fater. ih heittu Hadubraut. 

font her ustar gihueit. floh her Otachrcs nid. , 

hiua mil Theotribhe. enti tmero degano filu. 

iid DetnhhL>. darba gistontum. 
fnteres mineg, dat uuos bo friuntlaoH man. 
For Tcmarki on Gcodrie's exile tet W. Orimin, Deutsche Hcldcnsa|^, 
pp. 2:2, 24. 34, 56, 'dl, -Xl. 2CM. 

' MS. C. C. C. Cantab. No. 179. " Oo Soue efihtate6«uu di^ Saa 
mont^ei by« Sec Johannes tyd 5^8 p&pon i 'Sets martjTes, se gedyde 
tnak Godei inybt hlj'uiluin men geiyhi'e. 0one Jobnnnei for Ecfatum 
[b^t cTrellui] Theodoricus te wics Gotcoa cyaiog in Rauenna Siere 
KUtre ; i sum w^teosetla on Sdm ealonde Sc in nemncd Liparus, he 
■cde •cipUSeDdum mannum fiiet he ges&wc JohaiuiBa siwle 'Smt papan 
Udau Hone eyaing Se bine ofsl6b gcbundenne on ecum witun). Ue 
cwaeS, se Godes l>i;6w, t6 Sam scipUScndnm : Girsan dicg ou Ga nigo- 
fian tid da:gcs, Sa;t is on lionc non, pcodricua wte« f^li^ded ungyrd i 
Uliwe6d *] CBC gebunden be 'Sam handum. betncoh Johannc 'Sam pipan 
■J F^manum Sam ealihirmen. 1 he wiea fram hcom &wor])en on bpTiende 
wM on Vymm neih-eakn<)e. 1 Sect ia nemned Ulcania. And Sa Na- 
pUttende Sa 1SaX gehyredon, liig ymbhydelice iimeareodon iSone dicg, i 
htm JSS eyrdon eft to Etelwara miegSe, iSicr big ■Bone fyniog ict lyfl- 
gende forltettm ; big *& eft hine Srer dcadne pemftton, *y ylcan dsge 
6e hii wite Nam Godes frcdwe R;tvwed nica. Da;t wn» swiSe rtht Swt 



the author, after staling the eighteenth of May to 
be the commemoration of St. John, Pope and Mar- 
tyr, goes on to say, that an anchoret on Lipari told 
certain sailors how at a particular time he had seen 
king Theodoric, ungirt, barefoot, and bound, led 
between St. J(flin and St. Finian, and by them 
hurled into the burning crater of the neighbouring 
island Vulcano. That on their return to Italy the 
sailors discovered by comparison of dates that 
Theodoric died on the day on which the anchoret 
noticed his punishment by the hands of his vic- 
tims. The author expressly tells it was Theodo- 
ricus, the king of the Goths in Ravenna; and he 
concludes by saying, "That was Theodoricus the 
king whom we call Deddric," which we can only un- 
derstand by supposing him to allude to the mythical 
Deodric. Alfred seems also to have known some- 
thing of the mythical Deodric when he says, " he 
wees Amaling," a fact historically true of the Ostro- 
goth Theodoric, but yet unlikely to have been con- 
tained in Alfred's Latin authorities. The Travel- 
ler's Song says', " Deddric we61d Froncum," Theo- 
doric ruled the Franks, but this I should rather 
understand of one of the historical Merwinj 
kings, than of the Ostrogoth. 

The legends of Eormanric were obviously 
miliar to the Anglosaxons : in the so often quoted 

he fram flam twam maimuin wiere lendcd on 8«t 6ce (yr, BaBc he Wi 
uarihtlicG ofaluh ua 'Siniim life. Diet kbcs pcoiluricus Hone we neinaa'S 
De6drlc." Sec further illuatrationB of this strange tale iu the Deutsche 
Ilchlcnsa^, p. 38, where Otto of Fruiaingen u quoted, but who does 
not give neatly lo many Uetaila ai the Angloioxon legend. 
' Trev, Soug, 1. 47. 


poem of the Traveller's Song, this celebrated prince 
is mentioned more than once, as well as in the 
poem which contains the notices of Weland, Beado- 
hild and Deodric. The character given of him in 
both these compositions denotes a familiarity with 
the details of his history, as we find them almost 
universally in the Northern traditions, and more 
particularly those of his wealth, his cruelty and his 

In Be6wulf we have a somewhat further develop- 
ment of his history. We there learn incidentally that 
Hama (the Ammius of Saxo Grammalicus) carried 
off from him the Brdsinga-men or mythical collar 
of the goddess Freya. There can he no doubt that 
this necklace, called in the Norse traditions MeQ 
Brisinga, is of a most thoroughly mythological cha- 
racter', and any reference to it in Saxon poetry is 
welcome evidence of ancient heathendom : more- 

' When Loki announced to Freya that Th^ir would not recover hU 
lioninicr uolexs ilie morriiMl the giant nho hud berome posseiscd of it, 
■he trembled nith rage, so that the halls of (be gods shook under her, 
and the Hen firiiingaburat from her neck : again when Thorrdisgniies 
himielf in her distinctive dress, he do&s not forget the necklace. 
Hamanheimt, xiii. xv. six. 1 am inclined to think the Saxon reading 
erroneoiu, and that Brdainga is a mere error of copying. The meaning 
of the iTOrd is obscure : Brising in Norse denotes a fierce llame, and the 
name of the collar hai been explained from its bright and burning co- 
lour. Grimm suggests a deiivaliou (ram a verb brisim (found in Middle 
German under the form AHJten) aodare, «odis eonstringere, in reference 
to the form of its links. But the main difficulty in my opinion is found 
in the plural genitive of the patronymic, and I would almost prefer the 
hypothesis of our having entirely lost the lay which described its origin : 
others ne certainly have lost which had reference to it, as for instance 
Loki's and Ileimdallr's contention for it- Saso Grammaticua haa a 
Biory probably about its ocigin (p. 13) which is totally nnsatisfactory. 
Were the Brisingas (sons of fire 7) its first possessors or maken 1 

426 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

over the Anglosaxon poet alone mentions it in con* 
nection with Ek)rmanric. This peculiar feature is 
as little known to the other Germanic nations as 
the beautiful legend of Scyld Sc^fing, the loves of 
Gedt and MseVhild, the dragon-slaughter of Sig- 
mund, the wars of Hengest and Finn Folcwalding, 
or the noble epos of Be6wulf itself : unfortunately 
we have no detail as to the circumstances under 
which the necklace of the goddess came into the 
possession of Eormanric. 

The Traveller's Song however has traces of many 
heroes who are closely connected with the tradi- 
tional cyclus of Ek)rmanric : among these are Sifeca 
(the false Sibich of Grermany) and Becca, the Bikki 
of the corresponding Norse versions, whom it 
makes chieftain of the Baningas, perhaps the ** sons 
of mischief " from Bana. Hdma, already named, 
and Wudga, the Wittich and Heime of Germany, 
occur in the same poem : so also the terrible ^tla, 
Attila the Hun, the iEtIi of Scandinavia, the Etzel 
of the Nibelungen cycle. In the same composi- 
tion we find GiiShere, king of the Burgundians, the 
Norse Gunnar, and German Gunther ; and Hagena, 
probably the Norse Hogni, and Hagen the mur- 
derer of Sigfried. The Traveller's Song, and the 
Sc6p's Complaint contain no mention of the great 
hero of the Norse and German epos, Sigurdr Fafnis- 
bani, Sigfried, the betrothed of the Shieldmay Bry- 
hyldur, the husband of the fairhaired Chriemhilt. 

All the more welcome to us is the episode in 
Bedwulf, which not only records the tale of Sigurdr, 
though under the name of his father Sigmund, and 



makes particular meation of the dragon-sla lighter 
(Fafnis-bani) — which is a central point in the Norae 
tradition, although hardly noticed at all in the Ni- 
belungen Lied, — but also refers to the fearful ad- 
ventures which the Edda relates of the hero and 
his kinsman Sinti6tli(Fitela) which appear totally 
unknown in Germany. 

Having said thus much of the heroic personages 
to whom sa large a portion of Northern and Ger- 
manic tradition is devoted, it becomes possible for 
me to refer to the great work of James Grimm on 
German Mythology for a demonstration of the con- 
nection between these heroes and the gods of our 
forefathers. I regret that my own limits render it 
impossible for me to enter at greater length upon 
this part of the subject ; hut it requires a work of 
no small dimensions, and devoted to it exclusively : 
and it is therefore sufficient to show the identity 
of our own heroic story and that of Scandinavia and 
the continent, and thus enable the English reader 
to adapt to his own national traditions the conclu- 
sioas of learned inquirers abroad, with respect to 
their own '. 

1 I would partinilulf call stteotioD to W. Grimm'* DeoMche Uel- 
denia}^, P. Miiller's Sagabibliothek, and J. Grimra'a Duntache My- 
tholofpe ; tlie lait. a rerv storehouse of all ihat bean upon this 
moat intereatinj^ and importaDt aubject, important wbetherne coDsidef 
it merely in » literary poiut of view, or in the fcr higher one of a reve- 
latioD of the ereeil of our forefathers, the Murcen of their hope and fenr, 
the basis of their moral being and directing motii-e of their artioni. If 
it be tnie that not .ing human can be without interest for a man, sorely 
that nhich t«Ua of the religious belief of our furel'uthers miut be of the 
deepest and nearest interest. It has had something to do with mnkiiig 


[book I. 


attachment of the Germanic races to divination 
attracted the DOtice of Tacitus' : he says : "They 
are as great observers of auspices and lots as an] 
The way they use their lots is simple : they 
into slips a branch taken from an oak or beecl 
and having distinguished them by certain marl 
scatter them at random and as chance wills over*: 
white cloth. Then if the inquiry is a public one, 
the state-priest, — if a private one, the father of the 
house himself, — having prayed to the gods, and 
looking up to heaven, thrice raises each piece, and 
interprets them when raised according to the marks 
before inscribed upon them. If they turn out un- 
favourable, there is no further consultation that 
day about the same matter : if they are favourable, 
the authority of omens is still required. Even here 
they are acquainted with a mode of interrogating 
the voices and flight of birds ; but it is peculiar to 
this race to try the presages and admonitions of 
horses. These, white in colour and subject to no 
mortal work, are fed at the public cost in the sacred 
groves and woods : then being harnessed to the 
sacred chariot, they are accompanied by the priest, 
the king or the prince of the state, who observe 
their neighings and snortings. Nor has any au- 
gury more authority than this, not only among the 
common people, but even the nobles and priests: 
for they think themselves the ministers, but tbe- 
horses the confidants, of the gods. There ii 
other customary form of auspices, by which 





inquire concerning the event of serious wars. They 
match a captive of the nation with which they are 
at war, however they can come by him, with a se- 
lect champion of their own, each armed with his 
native weapons. The victory of this one or that 
is taken as a presage." 

The use of lots as connected with heathendom, 
that is, as a means of looking into futurity, con- 
tinued in vogue among the Saxons till a late period, 
in spite of the eftbrts of the clergy : this is evident 
from the many allusions in the Poeniteutials, and 
the prohibitions of the secular law. The augury by 
horses does not appear to have been used in Eng- 
land, from any allusion at least which still survives ; 
but it was still current in Germany in the seventh 
century, and with less change of adjuncts thau we 
usually find in the adoption of heathen forms by 
Christian saints. It was left to the decision of horses 
to determine where the mortal remains of St. Gall 
should rest ; the saint would not move, till certain 
unbroken horses were brought and charged with his 
coffin : then, after prayers, we are told, " Elevato 
igitur a pontifice nee non et a sacerdote feretro, et 
equis superposito, ait episcopus ; 'Tollite frena de 
capitibus eorum, et pergant, ubi Dominus voluerit.' 
Vexillum ergo crucis cum lurainaribus adsumeba- 
tur, et psallentes, equis praecedentibus, viaincipie- 
batur'." It may be imagined that the horses in- 
falUbly found the proper place for the saint's burial- 
place ; but what is of importance to us is the use 
of horses on the occasion. In this country how- 

' Anna. Vit. Sci. Galli. Pcrti, Mon. ii. 17. 


ever we have some record of a divination in which 
not horses but a bull played a principal part ; and 
as bulls were animals sacred to the great goddess 
Nerthus, it is not unlikely that this was a remnant 
of ancient heathendom. St. Benedict on one oc- 
casion appeared to a fisherman named Wulfgeat, 
and desired him to announce to duke M'Selmne^, 
his lord, that it was his the saint's wish to have a 
monastery erected to himself, to the pious mother 
of mercy and All virgins. The spot was to be where 
he should see a bull stamp with his foot. To use 
the words of the saint to the fisherman, *' Ut ei 
igitur haec omnia per ordinem innotescas exhortor, 
sermonem addens sermoni, quatenus scrutetur di- 
ligentius in loco praedicto quomodo noctu fessa 
terrae sua incumbant animalia, ac ubi taurum sur- 
gentem pede dextro viderit per cut ere terrain, ibidem 
proculdubio xenodochii sciat se aram erigere de- 
bere." Obedient to the order, duke -^^elwine set 
out in the morning to find the spot : '* Mira res, et 
miranda, ubi vir praedictus insulam est ingressus, 

animalia sua in modum crucis, taurum vero 

in medio eorum iacere prospexit, Et sicut quondam 
sancto Clementi agnus pede dextro locum fontis, 
sic viro isti taurus terram pede percutiendo locum 
mensae futuri arcisterii significavit divinitus *.'' St. 
Clement's fountain never rolled such floods of gold 
as found their way to the rich abbey of Ramsey ! 
Other details of heathendom in the practices of 

^ The same whom the grateful monks have distinguished by tlie name 
of Dei amicus. 
» Cod. Dipl. No. 581. 


ordinary life must be left to the appendix to this 
chapter ; hot a cursory reference may be made to 
what appears to show a belief in the ctU eye, and 
that practice which in Latin is called imrultuaiio. 
The former of these is mentioned in the poem of 
Bedwnlf \ where HrdSsar, warning Beowulf of the 
frail tenure of human life, adds, '' eagena bearhtm," 
the glance of eye$, to the many dangers the warrior 
had to fear : 

Nd 18 tmtB ■uegnet bbed Now is the bloom of thv strractli 

^be hwfle^ for a link while, 

eft aona bi8 iood will it be 

tet 6ec adl oMe ecg that nckiiess or the sword 

eafoSes getwagfeS, chjJl part thee from thv power, 

oWJe ffres feng, or dateh of fire, 

o08e iliSdes wyfan, or ware of flood, 

a<H$e gripe meces, or gripe of fword, 

o6(Se gjirta fliht, or jaTelin's flight, 

o6Se atol jldo, or oglj age, 

oi58e e^lgena bearhtm, or gknce of ere, 

ibnitteV and fbrsworceC. duJI oppress and darken thee ! 

Invultuation is defined by Mr. Thorpe in the fol- 
lowing words : " a species of witchcraft, the perpe- 
trators of which were called ruliitoli, and are thus 
described bv John of Salisbury : Qui ad affectus ho- 
minum immutandos, in molliori materia, cera forte 
vel limo, eorum quos pervertere nituntur, effigies 
exprimunt *. To this superstition Virgil alludes : 

" Limns nt hie dnrescit, et haec nt cera liqnescit, 
Uno eodemqne ieni, sic nostro Daphnis amore. 

'* Of the practice of this superstition, both in 
England and Scotland, many instances are to be 

> Beow. 1. 3530. > De Nugis Curial. bb. L cap. 12. 

432 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

met with ; among the most remarkable, that of Ele- 
anor Cobham, duchess of Gloucester, and Stacey, 
servant to George duke of Clarence*." 

But it seems to include also the practising against 
the life of an enemy by means of a waxen or other 
figure, in which pins were stuck, or against which 
a sharp bolt was shot. It is against this crime that 
the law of Henry the First enacts* : **Si quis ve- 
neno, vel sortilegio, vel invultuacione, sen maleficio 
aliquo, faciat homicidium, sive illi paratum sit sive 
alii, nihil refert, quin factum mortiferum, et nullo 
modo redimendum sit:" and this is perhaps also 
intended by the word libldc used by M^e\st&a^. It 
is also probable that this was the crime for which 
in the tenth century a widow was put to death by 
drowning at London Bridge, and her property for- 
feited to the crown^. Anglosaxon homilies however 
also mention philtres of various kinds, which the 
people are warned against as dangerous and damn- 
able heathendom. 

Such are the fragments of a system which at one 
time fed the religious yearnings and propped the 
moral faith of our forefathers, — faint notes from a 
chorus of triumphant jubilation which once rose to 
heaven from every corner of the island. 

How shall we characterize it ? As a dull and de- 
basing Fetish-worship, worthy of African savages? 
or as a vague and colourless Pantheism^ in which 
religion vanishes away, and philosophy gropes for 
a basis which it cannot find ? I think not. 

* Anc. Laws and Inst. vol. ii. Gloss. ^ LI. Hen. Ixxi. § 1. 

» iE«eUt. i. § 6. * Cod. Dipl. No. 691. 



Contemplate the child who bounds through the 
wood, or pauses in delight upon the meadow, where 
he wantons in the very joy of life itself: to him 
this great creation is full of playmates, beings ani- 
mate or inanimate, with whom he shares his little 
pleasures, to whom he can confide his little sorrows. 
He understands their language, and in turn he has 
a language for thera, which he thinks they under- 
stand : he knows more of their peculiarities than 
the halting step of scientific observation is always 
able to overtake ; for he knows what science 
haughtily refuses to contemplate or, it may be, is 
unable to appreciate. The birds speak to him, the 
forests whisper to him, the shadows and the low 
tones of the hill and valley lull him to repose, the 
winds wanton with his curled locks and blow them 
over his shoulders, the streams and brooks have 
spray to play with and sprinkle in his laughing 
eyes. He stands before the great spirit of nature, 
face to face, and knows him as he reveals himself 
in every one of his divine forms ; for the child sees 
and knows the secrets of God, which the man, alas I 
is condemned to forget. Such as the child is, has 
the child-like nation been, before the busy hum 
of commerce, the crashing strokes of the piston, the 
heavy murmur of innumerable spinning-jennies 
necessarily banished more natural music from our 
ears. An age that thinks about itself and its own 
capacity, that reflects upon its own processes of 
thought, and makes great combinations of powers, 
and anatomizes nature till it becomes familiar with 

VOL, r. 2 p 

434 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

every secret of creation, may be an earnest puri- 
tanical age, a stern protestant age, one that will 
not be fed with imaginative religions, but it cannot 
be one of implicit, trusting, fearing, rejoicing, trem- 
bling belief : the age of faith ceased where the age 
of knowledge began. Man knows too much, per- 
haps believes too little : he will not, and he must 
not, yield his privilege of calm, determined, obsti- 
nate enquiry : he will, and should, judge for him- 
self, weigh evidence, compare and reason, and de- 
cide for himself how much or how little he will 
receive as true. How can he wonder at the stars, 
their rising, their setting or their eclipse ? He cal- 
culates where new planets may be found : he weighs 
them in his balances when found, and tells not only 
their circumference or their density, but how long 
the straggling ray of hght that started from them 
was on its journey, before it reached the eye of the 
gazer. What can these wavering fragments of time 
and space be to him who calculates duration by the 
nutation of suns, or the scarcely appreciable diflfer- 
ence of millennial changes ? Let us remember what 
our fathers were, and consider what we are. For 
them there was indeed a time, a period to tell of, 

" when the Sun 
Knew not her dwelling, nor the Moon his power. 
And the Stars knew not where their place should be I " 

We know their places, and their dwellings, and 
their power. They are subordinated to a hypo- 
thesis of gravitation. For us there is no wavering 
bridge of the Grods, no Bifrost or Ashru ; our rain- 


bow is a shadowy thing, a belt of deceptive colours, 
the reflection of a sunbeam in the multitudinous 
prisms of a shower-cloud. We have no Hammer^ 
wielded by the Thunder-god, and dreaded by the 
giants ; our Miolner has vanished into the indiffer- 
ence of opposing electricities. Apothecaries' Hall 
prepares its simples without the aid of charms, or 
invocation of divinities ; and though we stand as yet 
but on the threshold of science, we have closed for 
ever behind us the portals of mystery and beUef . For 
we are raised upon the shoulders of the times gone 
by, and cast a calm and easy view over the country 
which our forefathers wandered through in fear 
and trembling. We fear not what they feared ; we 
cling not to what they clung to, for relief and com- 
fort ; we have set up our own idol, the Understanding , 
fortifled by laborious experience, taught by repeated 
struggles and victories, firmly based on conquered, 
catalogued and inventoried nature, on facts, the 
stern children of a passionless reality. I know not 
whether we have gained or lost in this inevitable 
career of humanity ; I have faith only that He who 
rules the purpose of the ages, has thus cast our lot 
in the infinite love and wisdom of his own thought. 
But not to us, or in our finite forms of thought, 
can the world be as once it was, and the '' dull ca- 
talogue of common things" admits no admixture of 
a fancied divinity ; nay, so far are we from seeking 
to instil spirit into matter, that the informing soul 
itself ceases to be the object of our contemplation, 
while we are busied with the nerves and tendons, 

2 f2 

436 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

or charmed with the wonderful combination of de- 
tails that form the perfect whole. We stand su- 
preme among the subjects of our knowledge ; and 
the marvels of science itself will now not form the 
stock in trade of a second-class conjuror. Observe 
the man who threads his way with imperturbable 
security and speed through the thoroughfares of 
a densely- peopled metropolis : the crowd throng 
about him, yet he yields here, he advances there, 
till at length, almost unconsciously, he has attained 
the goal of his desire. He is familiar with the 
straight lines and angles that surround him, he 
measures his position and stands upright, mis- 
taking, if indeed he think at ally the inconceivably 
rapid calculations of the understanding for acts of 
his own spontaneous volition. The unaccustomed 
eye of the child cannot do this ; and he wavers in 
his steps and stumbles from point to point, help- 
less, but charming in his helplessness, till practice 
brings him power, and he too walks and stands 
upright among men. So is it with the minds of 
men in early and uninstructed periods, stumbling 
from belief to belief, resting for support upon every 
circumstance of surrounding life, and unfurnished 
with the elements of scientific reasoning, which, by 
assuring certainty, destroy the vague, indefinite 
basis of faith, or bring within a narrow and con- 
stantly decreasing circle, its vague and indefinite 
object. We believe the results of Geometry, the 
theorems of analytic mathematics, because we can- 
not help ourselves, cannot escape from the inevita- 




ble conclusiou involved in the premises ; but we 
cannot call this acquiescence faith, or establish 
upon it a mora! claim before our own conscience 
and our God. And as there can be no reason save 
in the unintelligible, no faith save in the impossi- 
ble, all that is brought within the realm of the in- 
tellect, or the sphere of the possible, is just so much 
withdrawn from the circle of religion. 

The basis of the religious state in man is the 
sensation of weakness, — whether that weakness be 
or he not distinctly traced in the consciousness to 
the ignorance which is its cause, or to the ultimate, 
more abstract and more philosophical conviction of 
sinfulness, in the conscience. Man cannot rest for 
his anxious desire to know the why and how of 
every phccnomeuon he observes : this restlessness is 
the law of his intellect, that is, the condition of his 
humanity : he interrogates the phsenomena them- 
selves, but if they will give no answer to his ques- 
tion, be will seek it without them. In himself he 
will seek it in vain. At no time, at no stage of hia 
development can he understand the relation of the 
subject and the object, or comprehend the copula 
that unites them. The philosopher the most deeply 
trained in watching abstract forms of thought, ac- 
knowledges with a sigh that even the intuitions of 
the reason hall in the fetters of the understanding, 
and that to give objective reality to what can be 
known only in the forms and through the powers 
of the subjective, is at best to be guilty of a noble 
trCEison to the laws of pure reasoning. And what 

438 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

shall he do, who is not trained in watching abstract 
forms of thought ? Is he more likely to find the 
answer in himself? Alas, no ! he feels only too 
surely that his nature can give no satisfying re* 
sponse; that his confined and bounded being is 
itself full of problems which remain unsolved. 

And now let this state be considered with refer- 
ence to the early inhabitant of a world, whose secrets 
are yet undiscovered, and on whom no light of hea- 
venly radiance has fallen. For him, as for us, there 
is no answer either in the phaenomenon or in the 
observer : but he has no reason to reject the sup* 
position of a supernatural influence : everything 
that surrounds him is filled with evidence of super- 
natural power. He lives in^iearer communion than 
we do with the world ab6ut him ; his frame, not 
yet clogged and vitiated by the habits of an ad- 
vanced cultivation, is more alive than ours to the 
external effects of natural causes : the world itself, 
existing under different conditions of climate, dif- 
ferent electrical combinations, not yet subdued by 
the plough, or the axe of the forester, not yet 
bridled and trained by the canal, the manufactory 
or the railroad, has effluences which act upon the 
nerves and fluids of the man, and which seem to 
him divine emanations, revelations of the divinity 
within the lake, the mountain and the tree : the 
lake, the mountain and the tree he peoples then 
with gods, — with Nymphs and Nereids, with Oreads 
and Hamadryads— to whose inward and spiritual 
action the outward owes its power and its form. 


But the outward and visible is not a sign only, of 
the inward and spiritual; it is a symbol, a part 
of that which it denotes ; it is at once the sower and 
the seed. 

In no age can man be without the great ideas of 
God, of right, of power, of love, of wisdom ; but an 
age that has not learnt to feed upon abstractions, 
must find the realization of these ideas in the out- 
ward world, and in a few familiar facts of human 
nature. It strives to give itself an account of itself, 
and the result of its efibrts is a paganism, always 
earnest and imaginative, often cruel and capricious, 
as often gentle, affectionate and trusting — for even 
in spite of cruelty and caprice, the affections will 
have their way, and trust will find a home. Its in- 
consistence is the offspring not of guilt, but of im- 
perfect knowledge : it seeks the great solution of 
all religious problems, a mediator between Grod and 
man : it is its error, but not necessarily its crime, 
that it finds that mediator in the complex of the 
world itself : no other has been revealed to it ; and 
the reveries of philosophy that haunt the sounding 
Portico or the flowery swathes of Hymettus, cannot 
tell of the " Unknown God " to the agriculturist, 
the huntsman or the pirate. 

I believe in two religions for my forefathers : one 
that deals with the domestic life, and normal state 
of peace ; that sanctifies the family duties, pre- 
scribes the relations of father, wife and child, di- 
vides the land, and presides over its boundaries ; 
that tells of gods, the givers of fertility and increase, 
the protectors of the husbandman and the herds- 


man ; that guards the ritual and preserves the li- 
turgy ; that pervades the social state and gives per- 
manence to the natural, original political institu- 
tions. I call this the sacerdotal faith, and I will admit 
that to its teachers and professors we may owe the 
frequent attempt of later periods to give an abstract, 
philosophic meaning to my thus and tradition, and 
to make dawning science halt after religion. 

The second creed I will call the heroic ; in this 
I recognize the same gods, transformed into powers 
of war and victory, crowners of the brave in fight, 
coercers of the wild might of nature, conquerors of 
the giants, the fiends and dragons ; founders of 
royal families, around whom cluster warlike com- 
rades, exulting in the thought that their deities 
stand in immediate genealogical relation to them- 
selves, and share in the pursuits and occupations 
which furnish themselves with wealth and dignity 
and power. Let it be admitted that a complete 
separation never takes place between these different 
forms of religion ; that a wavering is perceptible 
from one to the other ; that the warrior believes 
his warrior god will bless the produce of his pas- 
tures ; that the cultivator rejoices in the heroic 
legend of Woden and of Baldr, because the culti- 
vator is himself a warrior when the occasion de- 
mands his services : still, in the ultimate develop- 
ment and result of the systems, the original distinc- 
tion may be traced, and to it some of the conclu- 
sions we observe must necessarily be referred: it 
is thus that spells of healing and fruitfulness sur- 
vive when the great gods have vanished, and that 



the earth, the hills, the trees and waters retaio a 
portion of dimmed and bated divinity long after 
the godlike has sunk into the heroic legend, or 
been lost for ever. 

I can readily believe that the warrior and the 
noble were less deeply impressed with the religious 
idea than the simple cultivator. In the first place, 
the disturbed life and active habits of military ad- 
venturers are not favourable to the growth of re- 
ligious convictions: again, there is no tie more 
potent than that which links sacred associations to 
particular localities, and acts, unconsciously per- 
haps but pervasively, upon all the dwellers near the 
holy spots : the tribe may wander with all its wealth 
of thought and feeling ; even its gods may accom- 
pany it to a new settlement ; hut the religio tod, 
the indefinable influence of the local association, 
cannot be transported. Habits of self-reliance, of 
a proud and scornful independence, are not con- 
sistent with the conviction of weakness, which is 
necessary to our full admission of the divine pre- 
eminence ; and the self-confident soldier often felt 
that he could cope with gods such as his had been 
described to be. In the Greek heroic lay Tydides 
could attack, defeat, and even wound Ares: I do 
not know that the Teutonic mythology ever went 
so far as this ; but we have abundant record of 
a contemptuous disregard with which particular 
heroes of tradition treated the popular religion. 
Some selected indeed one god in whom they placed 
especial trust, and whom they worshiped (as far 
as they worshiped at all) to the exclusion of the 

442 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

rest ; but more must have participated in that feel- 
ing which is expressed in a Danish song, 

I trust my sword, I trust my steed. 
But most I trust myself at need'!" 

while to many we may safely apply what is said of a 
Swedish prince, '* han var mikit blandinn i trunni," 
he WQS mightily confused in his belief. Still it is 
certain that a personal character was attributed to 
the gods, as well as an immediate intervention in 
the affairs of life. The actual presence of OJ?inn 
from time to time on the battle-tield, in the storm, 
in the domestic privacy of the household, was firmly 
believed, in Scandinavia; and it is reasonable to 
assume that W6den would have been found as ac- 
tive among our German progenitors, had not the 
earlier introduction of Christianity into Teutonic 
Europe deprived us of the mythological records 
which the North supplies. Beda tells us that 
Eadwini of Northumberland sacrificed and offered 
thanks to his gods upon the birth of a daughter. 
Raedwald of Eastanglia, even after his nominal con- 
version, continued to pay his offerings to idols, 
and the people of Essex, when labouring under the 
ravages of a pestilence, abjured the faith of Christ 
and returned to the service of the ancient gods. 
But in the personality of God alone resides the 
possibility of realizing the religious idea. 

* " Forst troer jeg mit gode srard, 

og saa min gode best, 
demast troer jeg mine dannesvenne, 
jeg troer mig self allerbedst." 

Many examples are given in Grimm, Mythol. p. 7. 


We possess no means of showing how the reli- 
gion of our own progenitors or their brethren of 
the continent, had been modified, puritietl, and 
adapted in the course of centuries to a more ad- 
vanced state of civilization, or the altered demands 
of a higher moral nature; but, at the commence- 
ment of the sixth century we do find the pregnant 
fact, that Christianity met but little resistance 
among them, and enjoyed an easy triumph, or at 
the worst a careless acquiescence, even among those 
whose pagan sympathies could not be totally over- 
come. Two suppositions, indeed, can alone explain 
the facile apostasy to or from Christianity, which 
marked the career of the earliest converts. Either 
from a conviction of the inefficacy of heathendom 
had proceeded a general indifi'erence to religious 
sanctions, which does not appear to answer other 
conditions of the problem, or the moral demands 
of the new faith did not seem to the Saxons more 
onerous than those to which they were accustomed ; 
for it is the amount of self-sacrifice which a religion 
successfully imposes upon its votaries, which can 
alone form a measure of its influence. The fact 
that a god had perished, could sound strangely in 
the ears of no worshiper of Baldr ; the great mes- 
sage of consolation, — that he had perished to save 
sinful, suffering man, — justified the ways of God, 
and added an awful meaning to the old mythus. 
An earnest, thinking pagan, would, 1 must believe, 
joyfully accc,)t a version of his own creed, which 
offered so inestimable a boon, in addition to what 
he had heretofore possessed. The final destruction 

444 THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. [book i. 

of the earth by fire could present no difficulties to 
those who had heard of Surtr and the Twilight of 
the Gods, or of Allfather's glorious kingdom, raised 
on the ruin of the intermediate divinities. A state 
of happiness or punishment in a life to come was 
no novelty to him who had shuddered at the idea 
of Nastrond : Loki or Grendel had smoothed the 
way for Satan. Those who had believed in runes 
and incantations were satisfied with the efficacy of 
the mass ; a crowd of saints might be invoked in 
place of a crowd of subordinate divinities ; the holy 
places had lost none of their sanctity; the holy 
buildings had not been levelled with the ground, 
but dedicated in another name ; the pagan sacrifices 
had not been totally abolished, but only converted 
into festal occasions, where the new Christians 
might eat and drink, and continue to praise God : 
Hr^Se and E6stre, W6den, Tiw and Fricge, Dunor 
and Saetere retained their places in the calendar of 
months and days : Erce was still invoked in spells, 
Wyrd still wove the web of destiny ; and while 
Woden retained his place at the head of the royal 
genealogies, the highest offices of the Christian 
church were offered to compensate the noble class 
for the loss of their old sacerdotal functions. How 
should Christianity fail to obtain access where Pa- 
ganism stepped half way to meet it, and it could 
hold out so many outward points of union to pa- 
ganism ? 

We dare not question the decrees of omnipotence, 
or enquire into the mysterious operations of omni- 
scient God ; it is not for us to measure his infinite 


wisdom by the rules of our finite intelligence, or to 
assume that his goodness and mercy can be appre- 
ciated and comprehended by the dim, wavering 
light of our reason ; but man feels that in every 
age man has had a common nature, a common 
hope and a common end of being ; and we shall do 
no wrong either to philosophy or to religion, if we 
believe that even in the errors of paganism there 
lay the germs of truth ; and that the light which 
lighteth every one that cometh into the world, was 
vouchsafed in such form and measure as best to 
subserve the all-wise, all-holy, and all-merciful ob- 
jects of creation! 




The following patronymical names I believe to be those of ancient 
Marks. The first portion of them is derived from the Codex 
Diplomaticus and otheif original authorities: the second portion 
contains names inferred from the actual local names in England at 
^0^ present day. 


Kent. Cod. 


No. 111. 
































374, 1113. 







421, 985, 1108. 







VOL, !• 




Bydelingas. Northamptonshire. Cod. Dipl. No. 445. 
Beaddingas. Isle of Wight. 475. 

BeorhfeldiDgas. 1175. 

Beringas. Kent. 518. 

Buccingas. Chron. Sax. 918. 

Bulungas. Somersetshire. Cod. Dipl. No. 569. 



























Sat. 999 


Kent. Cod. Dipl. 

No. 179. 















Northamptonshire . 



































Cod. Dipl 

. No. 1320. 































Feambeorgingas . 





































809. Chron. 1010. 







Chron. Sax. 1050. 

HealliDgas. Worcestershire. Cod. Dipl. 

No. 209. 















Cod. Dipl. 

No. 1212. 




































. Norfolk. 


















Sax. 918 


Middlesex. Cod. Dipl 

.No. 159. 



































Suffolk. Cod. Dipl. No. 907. 





























































Chron. Sax. 922. 


Hampshire. Cod.Dipl. 

No. 578. 























Surrey. Cod. 


No. 363. 


























Chron. Sax. 921. 

Wealth^mingas . 

Hampshire. Cod.Dipl 

.No. 342: 












ri016. 1061. 
..Chron. Sax. 1013. 


TTampshire. Cod.Dipl 

.No. 422. 





1069. 1154. 
























Chron. Sax. 966. 


Suffolk. Cod. 


No. 759. 












Cod. Dipl. No. 907. 


1159. 1173. 








Hampshire. 783. 

Wimbedtiiiingas . 

Surrey. 537. 



1228. Chron. Sax. 906. 


Hampsbire. Ckxl. 

Dipl. No. 752. 






















































642. 1136. 









657. 1038. 







Worcestershire. Cod. 


No. 266. 











































Abinger^iS^tirr.; AbinghaU^G/owc. ; Abington^C^rm^. 

Ablington, Gloue, ; Ablington, Wilts. 

Oakington^ Camb. 

Accrington, Lane. ; Eakring, NotU. 

Acklington, Nthld. 

Aldingboum, Sussx. ; Aldingham, Lane. ; Alding- 
ton, Kent and Wore. 

Aldringham, Sujf^, ; Aldrington, Sussx. 

Alkington, Gloue, and Salop. 

Alkrington, Lane. 

Allington, Devon, Dors., Hants, Kent, Line,, 

Almington, Staff, and Wane. 

Almodington, Sussx. 

Alphington, Devon; Alvington, Gloue., Somers, 
and Devon ; Alvingham, Line. 

Alpington, Nor/. 

Alwington, Devon. 

Angmering, Sussx. 

Antingham, Nor/. 

Ardingly, Sussx. ; Ardington, Berks. 






























Arlingham, Glauc, ; Arlington, Devon, Glouc. and 

Armingford, Camb. ; Anninghall^ Nor/. 
Arrington, Camb. 

Arthington, York. ; Arthingworth, Nhamp, 
Artington, Sussx. 
Astringdon, Essex \ Astrington, Sussx., Somers. 

and Nthld. ; Ashendon, Bucks. 
Ashling, Sussx, 
Athrington, Devon and Sussx. 
Attington, Ox/. 
Avington, Berks, and Hants. 

Babbingley, Nor/ ; Babington, Somers. 

Baddington, Chesh. ; Badingham, Suff. 

Badgington, Glouc. ; Baginton, Warw. 

Badlingham, Camb. 

Balking, Essex. 

Ballingdon, Essex ; Ballingham, Here/, 

Banningham, Nor/. 

Barking, Essex, Suff'. and Mddx. 

Barling, Essex ; Barlings, Line. 

Banning, Kent ; Birmingham, Warw. 

Bamingham, Suff., York, and Nor/ 

Barrington, Camb., Somers., Berks., Glouc. 

Bartington, Chesh. 

Basing, Hants; Basuigstoke, ibid. 

Bassingboum, Camb. ; Bassingfield, Notts ; Bas- 

singham. Line. ; Bassingthorpe, Line. ; Bassing- 

ton, Nthld. 
Bavington, Nthld. 
Bealings, Suff. 
Bebington, Chesh. 
Beckering, Line. 
Beckingham, Essex, Line., Notts; Beckington, 

























Beddingham, Sumx. ; Beddington, Surr, ; Beding- 

field, Sujf. ; Bedingham, Nor/, 
Bedlington, Drhm, 
Beeching Stoke, Wilts. 
Beeding, Sussx. 
Bellingdon, Bucks; Bellinger, Hants; Belling- 

ham, Nthld. 
Belting, Kent, 

Benningbrough, York, ; Benningbolme, York. ; 
Bennington, Herts, Line, ; Benningworth, Line. 
Bensington, Ox/, 

Berrington, Drhm., Glouc., Salop, Wore. 
Bessingby, York. ; Bessingham, Nor/ 
Bevington, Wane. 
Bickington, Devon. 

Billing, Nhamp, ; Billinge, Lane, ; Billingford, 
Nor/ ; Billingham, Drhm, ; Billinghay, Line, ; 
Billingley, York, ; Billingsgate, Mddx. ; Bil- 
lingshurst, Sussx, ; Billingside, Drhm, ; Billings- 
ley, Salop ; Billiugton, Bed/, Staff., Lane. 
Bilsiiigton, Kent, 
Bing, Suff, ; Bingfield, Nthld. ; Bingham, Nhamp,, 

Somers, ; Bingley, York. 
Binnington, York. 
Birchington, Kent. 
Birdiugbun', Warm. 

Birling, Kent, Nthld, ; Birliiigham, Wore. 
Bittering, Nor/ 

Blatcbington, Sussx. ; Blatchinworth, Lane. 
Bleddington, Gloitc. 

Blotchingley, Surr. ; Bletchingtoii, Ox/ 
Blickliiig, Nor/ 
Bobbing, K(>nt ; Bobbington, Salojy, Staff', ; Bot- 

tingwortb, Essex ; Bobinger, Essex. 
Bockiiig, Essex, Suff. 
Boddiiigtou, Glouc., Nhamp, 
























Bolingbroke, Line. 

BoUingtoiiy Chesh, 

Bondington> Somers. 

Bonnington, Kent and Notts ; Boningale, Salop ; 

Boninghall, Salop. 
Bossingbam, Kent ; Bossiiigton, Hants, Somers, 
BoTingdon, Herts. 
Brading, Hants. 

Brantingham, For^. ; Brentingley, Leic. 
Braughin, Herts. 
Bressingham, Nor/. 
Bridlington, York. 

Brightling, Stissx. ; Brightlingsea, Essex. 
Brimington, Derby. 

Brington^ Hunt, and Nhamp. ; Bringhurst, Leie. 
Briningham, Norf. 
Brinnington, Chesh. 
Brislington^ Somers. 
Brittenton, Oxf. 
Buckingham, Bucks. 
Buddington, Sussx, 
Bulkington, Warw., Wilts. 
Bullingdon, Oxf. ; Ballingham, Heref. ; Bulling- 

tou, Hants and Line, 
Buntingford, Herts. 
Burlingham, Norf. ; Burlington, York. 
Burmington, Warw. 
Burringham, Line. ; Burrington, Devon, Heref, 

Buslingthorpe, Line. 
Butting Hill, Sussx. 



Caddington, Bedf, Herts ; Keddington, Line. ; 

Kedington, Essex, Suff. 
Callington, Cornw. 
Keyingham, York. 



^CardingtoDy Bedf,^ Salop; Cardinham, Camw, 









Cameringas. Cameringham, Line, ; Cammerton, Cumb, 
Canningas. Cannings, Wilts ; Cannington, Somers. ; Ken- 

ninghall. Nor/.; Kennington, Berks., Kent, 
Cearlingas. Carlingcot, Somers. ; Carlinghow, Fork. 

Carrington, Chesh., Line., Notts ; Charing, Kent; 

Cherrington, Salop, Wilts. 
Carsington, Derby. 
Cassington, Oxf. 
Chaddlington, Oxf. 

Chalvington, l^issx. ; Kilvington, Fork. 
Chandling8, Berks. 
Cheddington, Bucks, Dors. 
Chellington, Bed/.; Chillingford, Stqf.; Chil- 
lingham, Nthld. ; Chillington, Devon, Somers.; 
Kelling, Nor/. ; Kellingley, Fork. ; Kellington, 
Chessington, Surr. ; Kessingland, Stifi^. 
Chevington, SuJ^,, Nthld. 
Kirklington, Notts, Fork. 
Chiddingfold, Surr. ; Chiddiiigly, Sussx. ; Chid- 

dingstone, Kent ; Kidding! on, Ox/. 
Kirmington, Line. 
Chiltington, Sussx. 
Kerasing, Kent. 
Chipping, Herts, Lane., Glouc., Berks., Oj/.j 

Essex, Nhamp., Bucks. 
Kensington, Mddx. 
Choppingtbn, Drhm. 

Kettering, Nhamp. ; Ketteringham, Nor/. 
Clavering, Essex, Nor/ 
KirtHng, Camb. ; KirtUngton, Ox/. 
Climping, Sussx. 
Kislinghuiy, Nhamp. 






































Cockerington, Line. 

Knedlington, York, 

Cocking, Sussx. ; Cockington, Devon. 

Coddington, Chesh., Here/., Notts ; Coddenham, 

Codrington, Gloue. 
Collingbourae, Wilts \ Colliogham, Notts, York,; 

Collingtoiiy Here/. ; Collingtree, Nhamjp. 
Knossington, Leie. 

Knotting, Bed/. ; Knottingley, York. 
Cooling, Kent ; Cowling, SuJ^., York. 
Copping Syke, Line. ; Coppingford, Hunt. 
Corringham, Essex, Line. 
Cossington, Leicest., Somers. 
Cottingham, Nhamp., York. ; Cottingley, York. ; 

Cottingwith, York. 
Covington, Hunt. 
Cramlington, Nthld. 
Creeting, Suff. 

Cressing, Essex ; Cressingham, Nor/ 
Cridling Stubbs, York, 
Crudgington, Salop. 
Cubbington, Warw. 
Cublington, Bucks. 
Quadring, Line. 
Cucklington, Somers. 
Quarrington, Drhtn., Line. 
Cuddiugton, Bucks, Chesh., Surr. 
Kidlington, Ox/ 
Cullingworth, York. 
Quenington, Gloue. 

Cuknington, Salop ; Kilmiugton, Devon, Somers. 
Killingbeck, York. ; Killiiighall, York. ; Killing- 
bolm, Line. ; Killingwortb, Nthld. 

Dsedlingas. Dadlington, Leie. 




Dagliiigworthy Glouc, 


Dalling, Nor/,; Dallingboo, Sufi^,; DallingtODi 

Nkan^,, Swsx, 


Darlingscott, Wore, ; Darlington, Drhm. 


Danington, York. 


Dartingtou, Devon, 


Dayington, Kent, 


Debtling, Kent, 


Deddington> Oxf. 


Dennington, SuJ^. 


Dersingham, Nor/, ; Dorsington, Giouc, Want, 


Dickering, York. 


Diddington, Hunt. 


Didling, Sh9$x. ; Didlington, Dors.y Nor/, 


Dillington, Norf, 


Dimlington, York. 


Dinnington, Nthld., Somert., York, 


Dinting, Derby, 


Dissingtou, Nthld. 


Distington, Cvmb. 


Ditchling, Sussx. 


Docking, Xorf. 


Doddinghurst, .Ewftr; Doddir^ton, Cflrmi.,CA^#A., 

Kenty LinCy Nthld,, Nhamp. ; Doddingtree, 

JJ ore. ; Dodington, Clove, Salop, Somers. 


Doiiington, Line, Leie,, Salop ; Donnington, 

Berks,, Glouc, Here/,, Leic, Salop, Sn9sx, 


Dorking, Svrr. 


Dormington, Here/ 


Dorrington, Line. Salop. 


Drijrhlington, York. 


Duekinffton, Chesh, ; Dvkin^ Line. 


Diicklingtou, Ox/ 


Dnllineham, Camb, 


Dunnmc:lev, York.; Dunninscton, Wane,, York,; 

Dumiingwith, Sujf^, 



Dyringas. Dorrington, Sussx,, Wilts. 






























Ealing, Mddx, ; Eling, Hanta. 
Eardington, Salop ; Erdington, Warw. 
Eashing, Snrr,; Easington, Bucks, Drhm.,Glouc,, 

Nthld., Oxf., York. ; Easingwold, York. 
Eastington, Dors., Gloue., Wore. 
Eastling, Kent. 
EastringtoD, York. 
Ebrington, Glouc. 
Eckington, Derby., Wore. ; Eggington, Bed/. ; 

EtchiDgham, Sussx. 
Edingale, StaJ^. ; Edingley, Notts ; Edingthorp, 

Nor/. ; 'Ed^D^ODyBerks.^Nthld., Somers., Wilts; 

Edingworthy Somers. 
Edlingham, Nthld. ; Edlington, Line., York. 
Effingham, Surr. 
Eglingham, Nthld. 
EUdngton, Nhamp., Line. 
EDerington, Nthld. 
Ellmgham, Hants, Nor/., Nthld. ; Ellingstring, 

York. ; Ellington, Hunt., Kent, Nthld., York. 
Ehnington, Nhamp. 
Eking, Norf. 
Eltrin^uun, Nthld. 
Elvington, York. 
Empingham, Rutl. 
Epping, Essex. 
Ermington, Devon. 
Erpingfaam, Nor/ 
Erringden, York. 
Essington, StaJT. 
Ettinghall, Staf. 
Erering^uDD, York. 

Eringxr, Hants ; Erington, Glouc., Leie. 
Exning, Suff. 



























Falkingham, Line. ; Felkington, Drhm. 
Faldingworth, Line, ; Fawdington, York, 
Fariiigdon, Devon; Famngdon, Dors,, Hants, 

Berks,, Somers, ; Farrington, Lane,, Somers, 
Farlington, Hants, York, 
Farmington, Gloue. 
Farningham, Kent, 
Felmingham. Nor/. 
Ferring, Sussx, 

Fiddington, Glouc, Somers,, Wilts, 
FUlingham, Line, 
Finchingfield, Essex, 
Fringringhoe, Essex, 
Finningham, Sujf, ; Fiiminglejy Notts, York, ; 

Vennington, Salop, 
Fitling, York. 
Fletching, Sussx, 
Fobbing, Essex, 

Folkingham, Line, ; Folkington, Sussx, 
Fordiugbridge, Hants ; Fordington, Dors., Line. 
Fotheringay, Nhamp. 

Framingbam, Norf. ; Fremington, Devon, York. 
Framlingham, Snff. ; Framlington, Nthld, 
Fressingfield, Svff, 
Fring, Norf. ; Fringford, Oxf. 
Frodingbam, Line, York. 
Funtington, Sussx. 
Fyliiigdales, York. ; Fylingtborpe, York. 







Gagingwell, Oxf. ; Ginge, Berks. 

Galmington, Somers. 

Garalingay, Camb. ; Gembling, York. 

Garliiigc, Kent. 

Garsiiigtou, Oxf. ; Grassington, York, ; Gressing- 

bam. Lane. ; Gressenball, Norf, 
Yaldiug, Kent ; Yielding, Bedf. 


























Gedding, Suff. ; Geddington, Nhamp, ; Yeading, 

Mddx, ; Yeddingham, York, 
Yarlington, Somers. 
Gedling, Notts, 
Yanington^ Ox/. 
Gestingthorpe, Essex. 
Yeayening, Nthld. 
Gidding, Hunt. 
Yettington, Devon. 
Gildingwellsy York. 
Gilling, York. ; Gillinghain, Dors., Kent, Nor/. ; 

Yelling, Hunt. 
Gimingham, Nor/. ; Gimmingbrook, Kent, 
Gipping, SuJ^. 
Gislingbam, jS>if^. 
Yetlington, Nthld. 
Glastonburyy Somers. 
Glevering, jS>ii^. 
Groddington, Ox/ 
Grolding Stoke, Leic, ; Groldings, Surr, ; Grolding- 

ton, Bed/, Bucks. 
Goring, Ox/, Suff". 
Grotherington, Glouc. 
Grayingbam, Line. 
Guestling, Sussx, 
Guyting, Gloue. 



VOL. I. 

Hackington, Kent. 

Haddington, I^nc. 

Hallingbnry, Essex ; Ilallington, Line,, Nthld, 

Hanningfield, Essex ; Hannington, Han ts, Nhamp . , 

Happing, Nor/ 

Hardingbam, Nor/ ; Hardington, Somers. ; Hard- 
ingstone, Nhamp. ; Harden, York. ; Harden- 
dale, Wmld. ; Hardenbuish, Wilts, 






















Harling, Norf, ; HarlingUm, Bedf,y Mddte.^ York, 
Harrington, Cumb.^ Linc^ Nhamp, ; Harring- 

worth, Nhamp. 
Harting, Sussx, ; Hartington, Derby. ^ Nttdd. ; 

Hertingfordbury, HerU. 
Hartlington, York. 
Harrington, Wore. 
Haslingden, Lane. ; Hafllingfield, Camb. ; Hasling- 

ton, Chesk. ; Heslington, York. 
Hassingham, Nor/. 
Hastings, fi^Ma?., Berks, Warw., Nhamp. ; Hasting- 

leyt, Kent ; Hastingwood, E^ex. 
Havering, Essex; Hareringhatn, Suf. ; HaTering- 

land, Norf. 
Hawkinge, Kent. 

Hawling, Glouc, ; Hayling, Hants. 
Headingley, York. ; Headington, Oxf. ; Hedding- 

ton, Wilts ; Hedingham, Essex. 
Healing, Line. 
neckingham, Norf. ; Heckington, Line. ; Heigh- 

ingtoii, Drkm.y Line. 
Hellinghill, Xfhfd. ; nellbigly, Sussx. 
Ilclmingham, Sujf. ; Helmington, Drhm. 
Ilclprington, Line. 
Helsington, Wmld. 
Hcmbliiigton, Norf. ; Hemlingford, Wane. ; Hem- 

liiigton, York., Drhm. 
Hemiiigbro\igh> York. ; Hemingby, Line, ; Ile- 

mingficld, York. ; Hemingford, Hunt. ; He- 

mingstone, Svf. ; Hemington, Nhamp.^ Somers. 
Hensingham, Cirmb. ; Kensington, 0.rf. 
Herring, Dors. ; Herringby, Norf ; Hcrringflect, 

SuJ^. ; Herringstone, Dors. ; Herringswell, Svf. ; 

Herringthorpe, York. ; Herrington, Drhm. 
Hcvingham, Norf. 
Hickling, Norf, Notts. 












Hillingdon, Mddw. ; Hillington, Nor/, 

Hindringham, Nor/. 

Hockering, Nor/ 

Hoddington, Hants, 

Holdingham, Line. 

Hollingbourn, Kent; HoUingdon, Bucks; Hol- 
linghilljiVif A/J. ; Hollington, Derb.,Staff.y8ua9X. ; 
Hollingworth, Chesh. 

Homington, Wilts. 

Honing, Nor/ ; Honingham, Nor/ ; Honington, 
Line., Sufft, Warw. 

Horbling, Line. 

Horning, Nor/ ; Horninghold, Leie. ; Homing- 
low, Staff. ; Horningsea, Camb. ; Homingshan], 
Wilts ; Horningsheath, Suff. ; Homingtoft, 

Horrington, Somers. 

Horsington, Line,, Somers. 

Hoveringham, Notts. 

HoTingbam, York. 
Hucingas, or\ .- ^r ^ 
Hudingas. Huddington, Wore, 

Honingas, orH 
„ .. ^Hunningbam, Warw, ; Hunnington, Salop. 

Hunsingas. Hunsingore, York. 
Hyrsiingas. Hundngstone, Hunt. 










Icklingbam, Suff. 

Illington, Nor/ ; Illingwortb, York. 

nmington, Gloue., Warw. 

Usington, Devon., Dors. 

Immingbam, Une. 

Impington, Camb. 

Iping, Sussx. 

Inningland, No*/. 

2 h2 










Irthington, Cumb. 
Irthlingborough, Nhamp. 
Islington, Nor/,, Mddx, 
Issington, Hants, 

Itchingswell, Hants ; Itchington, Gloue,, Want, 
Itteringham, Nor/, 

Ivinghoe, Bucks ; Ivington, Here/, ; Jerington, 

















Lackington, Somers, ; Latcbingdon, Essex. 

Larling, Nor/ 

Lartington, York. 

Leamington, Warto, ; Leeming, York. ; Leming- 

ton, Glouc., Nthld. 
Leasingham, Line. ; Lissington, Line. 
Leavening, York. 

Leayington, York. ; Levington, Suff". 
Leppington, York, 

Letheringham, Suff". ; Letberingsett, Nor/ 
Leverington, Camb. 
Lexington, Notts. 
Liddiugton, RutL, Witts. 
Lidlington, Bed/ 
Lidsing, Kent. 
Lillings, York. ; Lillingstone, Bucks ; Lillingtoii, 

Dors., Ox/y Warw. 
Limington, iS^omer*. ; Lyminge, iTe/i^; Lymington, 

Lings, York. ; Lingbob, York. ; Lmgen, Here/. ; 

Lingfield, Surr. ; Lingbam, Chesh. ; Lingwell 

Gate, York. ; Lingwood, Nor/ ; Lyng, Nor/ 
Littlington, Camb., Sussx. 
Locking, Somers.; Lockinge, i?er^*; Lockington, 

Leic.y York. 
Loddington, Kent, Leic.y Nhamp. 
Loningborough, Keh\ 








Loppington, Salop, 
Lovington, Scmers. 
Luckington, Samera,, Wilts, 
Luddington, Line, Wane., Hunt,, Nhamp. 
Lullingfield, Salop, ; LuUingstane, Kent ; Lulling- 
stoiie, Kefit ; Lullington, Derb,, Somers., Sussx, 





Maddington, Wilts ; Madingley, Camb, 
Mailing, Kent, Sussx, 

Manningford, Wilts; Manningham, Fork, ; Man- 
nington. Dors,, Nor/, ; Manningtree, Essex ; 
MoDTiiiigton, Here/. 
Marcbington, StaJ^, ; Markington, York, ; Mark- 

ingfield. Fork, 
Marlingford, Nor/ 
Maeringas, or^Marrington, Salop, ; Mering, Notts ; Mcrrington, 

Myrgings? J Brhm,, Salop, 
Meessingas. Massingham, Nor/ ; Messing, Essex ; Messing- 

ham. Line, 
Matching, Essex, 

Mattinglej, Hants ; Mettingham, Suff, 
Maegdlingas. Maudling, Sussx. 
M^cingas. Meeching, Stissx. 

Melling, Lane, 
Metberingham, Line, 
Millington, Chesh,, York, 
Minting, Line, 

Mollington, Chesh,, Ox/, Wane. 
Mottingbam, Kent, 
Mucking, Essex. 










Nackington, Kent ; Nedging, SuJ^, 
Nasaington, Nhamp. ; Nazeing, Essex, 
Needingwortb, Hunt. 

> These may properly luTe eommeoced with an H, that Ilnsciiigai, Ilnut. 
tingas. Simflarly Hmitioffingw, now NntthtlKng or Nonliiig in Hanti* 



Niwingas. NewingtoD, Kent, Notts, Ox/., York,, Glouc., 

Surr,, Mddx, 
NorSingas. Northington, Hants. 
Nottingag ' . Notting, Bedf. ; Nottington, Dors. ; Nottingham, 

Notts, Berks. 









Oddingley, Wore. ; Oddiogton, Gloue., Oxf. 

OldingtoD, Salop. 

Orlingbury, Nhamp. 

Orpington, Kent. 

Osmington, Dors. 

Ossington, Notts. 

Otterington, York. ; Ottringham, York, 

Oving, Bucks, Sussx, ; Ovingdean, Sussx. ; Ching- 

ham, York., Nthld. ; Orington, Essex, Hants, 

Norf., Nthld., York. 


Packington, Derb,, Leie,, Stc^., Wane. ; Patch- 

ing, Sussx. 


Paddingtou, Mddx. (? Padau tiin.) 


Palling, Norf. ; Pallinghaiu, Sussx. ; Pallington, 



Pauiington, Glouc. 


Partington, Chesh. 


Patrington, York. 


Pattingham, Salop., Staff. 


Pavinghaui, Bedf. ; Pevington, Kent. 


Peatling, Leic. 


Pedling, Kent. 


Pennington, Hants, Lane. 


Pickering, York. 


Piddinghoe, Sussx. ; Piddington, Nhamp., Oxf. 


Pilkington, Lane. 


Pilling, Lafic. 

* See note in p. 469. 
















PittingtoD, Drhm. 

Pocklingtou, York. 

Poddington, Bed/. ; Podiugton, Dors. 

Pointington, Somers. 

Poling, SuMsx, i Pollington, York. 

Poringland^ Norf, 

Porkington, Salop. 

Portington, York. 

Postling, Kent. 

Poting, York. 

Puckington, Somers. 

Pojnings, Sussx. 

Puddington, Bed/., Chesh., Devon. 

















Raddington, Somers. ; Reading, Berks ; Reading- 
street, Kent. 
Ratlinghope, Salop. 
Raveningfaam, Nor/. 
Redlingfield, Suf. 
RenningtODy Nthld. 
Rickinghall, St^. 
Rickling, Essex. 

Riddinge, Derb. ; Riding, Nthld. 
Ridlington, Nor/, Rutl. 
Rillington, York. 
Rimmington, York. 

Riplingham, York. ; Riplington, Hants, Ntkld. 
Rippingale, Line. 
Rising, Nor/ ; Rissington, Glouc. 
Rivington, Lane. 
Rockingham, Nhamp. 

' All these words commeucing with an R may have originally had an II, 
in which case we should have had these formations : Ilraefhingas, Hretningas, 
Ilrycglingas, Ure6plingas, llreopingas, Ilrisingas, Hrudngas, Hr6ringa«, 
Ureawingas, Hrrcingas, Hre6diogas, Hrjscingas. 














Roddiugtou, Salop, ; Roding, Essex. 

RoUiDgton, Dors, 

Rorrington, Salop, 

Rossington, York, 

Rottiiigdean, Sussx. ; Rottiugton, Cumb. 

Rowington, Warw, 

Ruckinge, Kent, 

Ruddington, Notts. 

Rimnington, Somers, 

Ruskington, Line, 

Rustington, Sussx. 








Scearingas, or 













Saddington, Leie. 

Saling, Essex. 

Salvington, Sussx. 

Sandringham, Nor/. 

SaxliDgham, Nor/. 

Scaling-dam, Fork. 

Seaming, Nor/. 

Scarrington,i\^o^^*; Sharrington, A^or/*. ; Sheering, 

Essex ; Sheringford, Nor/. ; Sherringham, Nor/. ; 

Sherrington, Bucks, Wilts. 
Scarthingwell, York. 
Scrayingham, York. 
Scredington, Line. 
Seavington, Somers. 
Seckington, Wariv. 
Seething, Nor/. 
SelUng, Kent ; SelUnge, Kent. 
Semington, Wilts. 
Sempringham, Line. 
Settrington, York. 
Sevington, Kent. 
Shabbington, Bucks. 

^ See note in the preceding page. 































Shadingfield, Suff, 

Shavingtou, Chesh, ; Shevington, Lane, ; Skef- 

fington, Leic. 
Shenington, Glouc, 
Shilling-Okeford, Dora, ; Shillingford, Berks, 

Oxf,, Devon. ; Shillingstone, Dors, ; Shilling- 

thorpe, Line, ; Shillington, Bedf, ; Skelling- 

thorpe. Line. ; Skillington, Line, 
Shilvington, Dora,, Nthld. 
Shimpling, Nor/,, Suff. 
Shitlington, Bed/,, Nthld,, York. 
Sholing, Hanta, 
Shordington, Gloue. 
ShuttingtOD, Warw, 
Sicklinghall, York. 
Siddington, Gloue. 
Silvington, Salop. 
Sinoington, York. 
Sittingboume, Kent. 
Skeckling, York. 
Skeffling, York. 
Skelding, York. 
Skirlington, York. 
Sleningford, York. 
Snoring, Norf, 
Sompting, Suaax. 
Sonning, Berka, Ox/. ; Sunninghill, Berka ; Sun- 

ningwell, Berka. 
Sonthington, Hanta. 
Spalding, Line, ; Spaldington, York, 
Speckington, Somera, 
Spirringate, Glouc. 
Spratting- street, Kent. 
S})ridlington, Line. 
Stalling-busk, York. ; 

Stallington, StaJ". 

Stallingborough, Line. ; 




Stanningfield, Suff, ; Stanninghall, Norf, ; Stan- 

ningley, York. ; Stannington, NtfUd,, York, \ 

Ste^ning, Stissx. 


Starling, Lane. 


Stebbing, Ussex ; Sdbbington, Hunt. 


Steeping, Line. ; Steppingley, Bed/. 


Stelling, Kent; Stalling, NikU.; Stillingfleet, 

York, ; Stillington, Brhm.y York. 


Stevington, Be(j{f. 


Stocking, if 0r^«; Stockingford, Warw.i Stokiog- 

haui, Devon. 


Stomingley, York. 


Storrington, Suasx. 


Stouting, Kent. 


Strellington, Su99x. 


Stubbington, Hants. 


Sullington, Sussx. 


Surlingham, Norf. 


Swannington, Leic., Norf. 


Swarling, Kent (? Sweordhlincas.). 


Swathling, Hants. 


Sweffliiig, Suff. 


Swillington, York. 


Sydliiig, Dors. 








Taddiiigton, Gfouc, Derby, ; Teddington, Mddx.y 

Wore. ; Tiddington, Oxf., JFanv. 
Talliiigton, Line. 
Tannington, Suff. 
Tarring, Sussx. ; Tarrington, Here/. ; Terrington, 

No?/., York. ; ^Torrington, Devon., Line. 
Tattingstone, Suff. 
Teudring, Essex. 
Terling, Essex. 
Thanington, Kent. 
Thcdingworth, X«c., Nhamp. 



Doringas^ or 


Thockington, Nthld. 

I Thoriiigton, Sujf. ; Thorrington, Essex, 

Thornington, Nthld, 

Threckingham, Line, 

Tbredling, Svff. 

Thrislington, Drhm, 

Thrussington, Leie, 

Thuming, Hunt,, Nor/,, Nhamp, 

Thwing, York, 

TibbingtoD, Staff, 

Tidmington, Wore, 

Tilliiigbain,iS!9«e47; TiXl^^iiyHeref.yStaff.ySussx, 


TiasiiigtOD, Derby, 

TitlingtoD, Nthld, 

Tivington, Somers. 

Tockington^ Glouc, 

Toddington^ Bed/,, Oloue, 

Toltingtrougb, Kent, 

Tooting, Surr, ; Tottingtoni Lane,, Nor/, 

Torkington, Chesh, 

TortingtOD, Sussx, 

Trimingbam, Nor/ 


Tring, Herts. 

Tritlington, Nthld, 

Trumpington, Camb, 

Tucking Mills, Somers, ; Tuckington, Hants, 

Tufibingbam, Chesh, 

Tuttington, Nor/, 

Twining, Glouc. 

Twitcbing, Devon, 

Tyrringbara, Bucks, 

Tytberington, Chssh., Glouc, Wilts, 

Uckington, Glouc, Salop, 
Uffington, Berks, Line, Salop, 






Ullingswick, Here/. 

Ulting, Essex, 

Uppingham, Rutl. ; Uppington, Salop. 








Waddingham, Line. ; Waddington, Line., York. ; 

Waddingworth, Line. ; Weddington, Warw. 
Wakering, Essex. 

Waldingfield, Suff. ; Woldingbam, Surr. 
Waldringfield, Suff. 
Walkeringham, Notts. 
Walkingham, York. ; Walkington, York. 
Wallingfen, York. ; Wallingford, Berks; Wal- 

lington, Hants, Herts, Nor/., Surr., Nthld.; 

Wallingwells, Nottsi ; Wellingboro', Nhamp. ; 

Wellingham, Nor/. ; Wellingley, York. ; Wel- 

lingore, Line. 
Walsingham, Nor/. ; Wolsingham, Drhm. ; Wool- 

sington, Nthld. 
Waplington, York. 
Wapping, Mddx. 
Wcarblingas*. Warblington, Hants. 
Weardingas. Wardingtoii, Ox/, 

Warlingham, Sussx. 
Warmingham, Chesh. ; Warmiiighurst, Sussx. ; 

Wamiington, Nhamp., Warw. 
Warniiigcamp, Sussx. 
Warrington, Bucks, Lane. ; Wcrrington, Devon., 

Warthing, Sussx. 
Washingborough, Line. ; Washingley, Hunt. ; 

Washington, Derby., Durh., Sussx. ; Wasing, 

Berks; Wessington, Derby. 
Wateringbury, Kent. 







* As the whole of these names might commence with an II, we should have 
the following forms: Hwaeplingas, Hwaeppingas, Ilwearflingas, Hwaetlingas, 
Hwelpingas, Hwerringas, Hweopingas, Hwitlingas, Hwiteringas, Hwitingas. 
















Witeringas * . 














WatUngton, Norf.^ Oxf. 

Weeting, Norf, 

Wellington, Heref.y Salop, y Samers,, Wilts. 

WencQing, Norf. 

WeDnington, Essex, Hunt., Lane. 

Wittering; Sussx. ; Wetheringsett, SuJ^. ; Wither- 

ington, Wilts. 
Westington, Gloue. 
Westoning, Bed/. 
Whatlmgton, Sussx. 
Whelpington, Nthld. 
Whenriugton, Staff. 
Whippingham, Hants. 
Whitlingham, Norf. 


Whittering^ Nhamp. 

Whittingham, Lane., Nthld. ; Whittington,2>fr5., 
Glouc, Lane, Norf., Salop., Staff., Warw., 
Wore., Nthld. 

Widdington, Essex, Nthld., York. 

Willingale, Essex ; Willingdon, Sussx. ; Willing- 
ham, Camb., Line., Suff. ; Willington, Bedf, 
Chesh., Derb., Drhm., Nthld., Warw. 

Wilmington, Kent, Salop,, Somers,, Sussx. 

Winnington, Chesh., Staff, 

Winteringham, Line., York. 

Wissingtou, Salop,, Suff, 

Witohingham, Norf. 

Witchling, Kent ; Wychling, Kent. 

Withmgton, Glouc., Heref, Lane., Salop., Staff., 

Woking, Surr. ; Wokingham, Berks, Wilts. 

Workington, Cumb. 

Worlingham, Suff. ; Woriington, Suff., Devon. ; 
Worlingworth, Suff'. 

yforwm^oxd, Essex-, Wormmghall, i?MC^*; Wor- 
mington, Glouc. 
1 See note in the preceding page. 




Worthing, Nor/,, Suwit, ; Worthington, JLane, 


Wramplingas. Wramplingham, Nor/, 

Wratting, Catnb,, Suff, 
Wreningham, Nor/ 
Wrestlingworth, Bed/ 
Wrightington, Lane, 
Writhlington, Somers, 

Weomeringas. Wymering, Hants. 

Wymingas. Wymington, Bed/ 






The total number of the names thus assumed from local deno* 
minations amounts to 627> but as several occur once only, while 
others are found repeated in various counties, I find the whole 
number reaches to 1329, which are distributed through the coun- 
ties in a very striking manner, as the following table will show. 

Bedford 22 

Berks 22 

Bucks 17 

Cambridge 21 

Cheshire 25 

Cornwall 2 

Cumberland 6 

Derby 14 

Devon 24 

Dorset 21 

Durham 19 

Essex 48 

Gloucester 46 

Hereford 15 

Hertford 10 

Huntingdon 16 

Kent 60 

Lancashire 26 

Leicester 19 

Lincolnsh 76 

Middlesex 12 


Norfolk 97 

Northampton 3.5 

Northumberland ... 48 

Nottingham 22 

Oxford 31 

Rutland 4 

Salop 34 

Somerset 45 

Southampton .... 33 

Stafford 19 

Suffolk 5f) 

Surrey 18 

Sussex 68 

Warwick 31 

Westmoreland .... 2 

Wilts 25 

Worcester 13 

York (3 Ridings) . . . 1 27 

THE MARK. 479 

There are two slight causes of inaccuracy to be borne in mind 
in using the foregoing tables : the first arises from the insertion of 
names which properly do not, the other from the omission of 
names which properly do, belong to this class. But I think these 
two errors may nearly balance one another, and that they do not 
interfere with the general correctness of the results. 

It is remarkable how many of these names still stand alone, 
without any addition of -wic, -hdm, -worSig, or similar words. The 
total number of patronymical names thus found (in the nominative 
plural) is 190, or very nearly one-seventh of the whole : they are 
thus distributed : in Kent, 25 ; Norfolk and Sussex each 24 ; 
Essex 21 ; Suffolk 15 ; Yorkshire 13 ; Lincoln 7 ; Southampton 
6 ; Berks and Surrey, 5 each ; Bedfordshire, Lancashire, Middle- 
sex and Northampton, 4 each ; Hertford, Huntingdon, NorthuTii- 
berland and Nottingham, 3 each ; Cambridge, Derby, Dorset, 
Gloucester and Oxford, 2 each ; Bucks, Devon, Leicester, Salop, 
Somerset^ Warwick and Wilts, 1 each ; and none at all in the re- 
maining ten coimtics. When now we consider that of 190 such 
places, 140 are found in the cotmdes ou the eastern and south- 
em coasts ; and that 22 more are iu couuties easily accessible 
through our great navigable streams, we shall be led to admit 
the possibility of these having been the original seats of the 
Marks bearing these names ; and the further possibility of the 
settlements distinguished by the addition of -hdm, -wlc and so forth 
to these ori^al names, having been filial settlements, or as it 
were colonies, from them. It also seems worthv of remark that 
they are hardly found to the north of the Humber, or about 
53*^ 40' N. Lat., which renders it probable that the prevailing 
mode of emigration was to take advantage of a N.E. wind to secure 
a landing in the Wash, and thence coast southward and westward 
as far as circumstances required. Sailors, who in the ninth cen- 
tury could find their way from Norway to Iceland in sufficient 
numbers to colonise that island, who in the tenth could extend 
their course from Iceland to Greenland, and who had noble spirit 
enough to affront the perils of the Polar ocean rather than submit 
to oppression at home, were not likely to find any insurmountable 


difficulty in a voyage from the Elbe or Skager Rack to England : 
and the conquest of the Orkneys and Hebrides, of the south of 
Ireland and Man, nay of large tracts of England by the Scandi- 
navians in the ninth, tenth and following centuries, may supply 
the means of judging how similar adventures were conducted by 
populations of the same race, and as noble spirit, nine hundred or 
a thousand years before. 

The following additions may be made to the evidences given in 
this chapter. 

A marked linden or lime-tree is noticed in Cod. Dipl. No. 1317. 
Again in Kent we hear of eames bedm, the eagle's tree, ibid. 
No. 287 : it is more probable that this was a tree marked with the 
figure of an eagle, than that a real bird of that species should 
have been meant. Further in the boundary of the charter No. 
393 we have, on ^&xi merkeden 6k, to the marked oak. 

The sacred woods are again mentioned by Tacitus, Annal. i. 59, 
where he tells us that Arminius hung up the captured Roman 
ensigns to the gods of the country, in the woods, lucis : we hang 
them up in cathedrals. See also Tac. Grerm. vii. Annal. iv. 

Tlie character of the Mark or March is verv evident in the fol- 
lowing passage : " Siquidem in Lindeseia superiori extat prioratus 
qui Marchby dicitur, longas ac latas pasturas pro gregibus alendis 
inhabitans, non omnino privato iure, sed communem cum com- 
patriotis libertatem ex dono patronorum participans," etc. Chron. 
Lauerc. an. 1289. See also the quotations from the Indiculiis 
Pagan, and Synod. Leptin. an. 742, in Moser, Osnab. i. 52, and 
the whole of his twenty-ninth chapter, for the religious rites with 
which boundaries were dedicated, especially vol. i. p. 58, note c. 

It is more than one could now undertake to do, without such 
local cooperation as is not to be expected in England as yet, but I 
am certain that the ancient Marks might still be traced. In look- 
ing over a good county map we are surprised by seeing the syste- 
matic succession of places ending in -den, -holt, -wood, -hurst, 
-fald, and other words which invariably denote forests and outlying 
pastures in the woods. These are all in the Mark, and witliin 

THE MARK. 481 

them we may trace with equal certamty, the -h^ms, -tuns, -wor^igs 
and -stedes which imply settled hahitations. There are few coun- 
ties which are not thus distributed into districts, whose Umits may 
be assigned by the observation of these peculiar characteristics. 
I will lay this down as a rule, that the ancient Mark is to be recog- 
nised by following the names of places ending in -den (neut.), 
which always denoted cubile ferarum, or pasture, usually for 
swine. Denu, a valley (fem.), a British and not Saxon word, is 
very rarely, perhaps never, found in composition. The actual 
surface of the island, wherever the opportunity has been given of 
testing this hypothesis, confirms its history. But there are other 
remarkable facts bearing upon this subject, which are only to be 
got at by those who are fortunate enough to have free access to 
manorial records, before the act of Charles II. destroyed all feudal 
services in England. A striking example of the mark-jurisdiction 
is the " Court of Dens,*' in Kent. This appears to have been a 
mark-court, in the sen^e in which mark-court is used throughout 
this second chapter, and which gradually became a lord^s court, 
only when the head markman succeeded in raising himself at the 
expense of his fellows : a court of the Uttle marks, marches, or 
pastures in Kent, long after the meaning of such marks or marches 
had been forgotten : a court which in earlier times met to regulate 
the rights of the markmen in the dens or pastures. I am indebted 
(among many civilities which I gratefiilly acknowledge) to the 
Rev. L. Larking of Ryarsh for the following extracts from Sir 
Roger Twisden's journal, which throw some light upon what the 
court had become in the middle of the seventeenth century, but 
stiU show its existence, and lead us to a knowledge of its ancient 

The reader who feels how thoroughly English liberty has become 
grounded in the struggles between the duties and privileges of 
various classes, how entirely the national right has been made up 
and settled by the conflict of private rights, how impossible it 
was for the union of empire and freedom to exist, — or for impe- 
rium and freedom to co-exist, without the battle in which the 
several autocracies measured their forces and discovered the just 

VOL. I. 2 I 


terms of compromise, — will value this record of the reluctance 
with which a staunch country squire submitted to the duties of 
his position. It is not only amusing, but instructive, to watch 
these men of the seventeenth century, fighting on the minutest 
grounds of squabble : very amusing, to those who take the world 
as it is, to have been always as it is, and likely always so to re- 
main : very instructive to those who know the miserable condition 
from which such " squabbles " have raised us. There are people, 
who having no sense of right, but a profound sense of the wrong 
done them, raise barricades, and overturn dynasties in moments of 
irrepressible and pardonable excitement : there are people on the 
other hand who steadily and coolly measure right and wrong, who 
take to the law-book rather than the sword, who argue the ques- 
tion of ship-money, on which a system of government depends, as 
calmly as if it were a question of poor-rates in a parish attorney's 
hands, and having brought their right, the ancient right of the 
land, into light, fall back into the orderly frame of society in 
which they lived before, as if no years of desperate struggle had 
intervened, — the law being vindicated, and the work of the work- 
men done. This work without distinction of Parliamentarian or 
King's Man was done by the Seldens and the Twisdens, and men 
of more general note and name, but not more claim to our grati- 
tude and respect. But to do this, required that study which un- 
happily our English gentlemen no longer think absolutely neces- 
sary to their education, the study of the law, of which they are 
the guardians, though a professional class may be its ministers : 
and most amusing now it is to see how zealously these old cham- 
pions of the law did battle in its defence, even in the most minute 
and now unimportant details. It was then a happy thing for 
England that there were courts of Dens, and squires who did not 
like them : it is now an admirable tlimg for England that there 
are courts of all sorts and descriptions, and people who do not 
like them, who are constantly trying their right against them, 
constantly winning and losing at the great game of law, or per- 
haps the greater game, of the forms under which law is admini- 
stered, — htigious people, — people liking to argue the right and 

^ THE MARK. 483 

the wrong in a strict form of logic, the legal form ; who are 
always arguing, and therefore never fighting. If there had not 
been courts of Dens to argue about, — and unhappily, at last, to 
fight about, — there would most certainly not now be a " High 
Court of Parliament," for there would never have been those 
who knew how to establish it. The country-gentlemen of the 
seventeenth century appeal to the experience of the nineteenth, in 
every land but this of England, whose steady, legal order the 
country-gentlemen of the seventeenth century founded ; and the 
grateful middle class of the nineteenth century in no country but 
this respond to that appeal in this year 1 848, by declaring that no 
force, whether of king or not of king, shall be known in England, 
except that of the law, — the great and ancient law, — that all asso- 
ciations of men are united in a guarantee of mutual peace and 

It is now time to return to Sir R. Twisden and the Court of 
Dens. It appears that this was held at Aldington, and that it 
claimed jurisdiction over a considerable space. If we follow the 
main road from Hythe to Maidstone, a little to the north of 
Aldington', and running to the east of Houghton, we find a tract 
of country extending to the borders of Sussex and filled with 
places ending in -den, or -hurst : this country of the Dens runs 
exactly where we should expect to find it, viz. along the edge of 
the Weald, within whose shades the swains found mast and pas- 
ture. I will enumerate a few of the places so named : they can 
readily be found on a good map of Kent, and form a belt of mark 
or forest round the cultivated country, quite independent of the 
woods which once lay between village and village. 

Ashenden. Castleden. 

Bainden. Chiddenden. 

Benenden. Cottenden, Sussex, 

Bethersden. Cowden. 

Biddenden. Frittenden. 

' Aldington is about 57' east of Greenwich. 

2 i2 









Iden, Sussex. 

Marden, Sussex, 









Billinghurst, Sussex, 
CoUingburst, Sussex, 
Crowhurst, Sussex. 
Ewhurst, Sussex. 

Greenhurst, Sussex, 



Hophurst, Sussex, 


Afidhurst, Sussex, 

Nuthursty Sussex. 

Penhorst, Sussex, 









Ticeburst, Sussex, 

Wadburst, Sussex, 

Warmingbiirst, Sussex. 

Alfold, Sussex, 
Amisfold, Sussex. 
Cowfold, Sussex. 
Cbiddingfold, Surrey. 
Shinfold, Sussex. 

It is not likely that all these various places, the list of which 
might be greatly increased, were ever reduced imder one judicial 
unity ; but, even with the aid of Sussex, I have been able to men- 
tion only twenty-five dens, and we know that at least tbirty-two, 
if not forty-four, were subject to the court of Aldington. 

The entries in Twisden's Journal are to the following effect : — 
'* 18th September 1655. I was at Aldyngton Court, at the 
chusing the officers to gather the Lord's Rent, where grew a 
question, whither, if the Lord released our Rent, Sute, and Ser- 
vice, to the Court, we were subject to the slavery of attendance, 

THE MARK. 485 

aud whither the Tenants could prescribe men, &c., &c., &c., or 
impose an office upon them, — and it was the whole resolution of 
the Court, the Lord might sell his quit-rents and all manner of 
attendance on the Court, and then he could not be tyed to any 
office, nor the Tenants impose any office upon him 

"The 16th September 1656, I went to Aldyngton Court, but 
came too late, there beeing layd on me the office for collecting the 
32 Denns, for my land in them. I desired to know what land it 
was. ... in the 32 Dens upon which the office was laid, but this I 
could not learn. . . . the issue was, that if they can name the land 
or descry it, I am to do it, — ^if not, I refused to gather it." 

" 1658. I was at Aldynton Court again, and then there was 
much stir about this land which could not bee found. I still 
insisted the Denne of Plevynden held of Wye, that the 16«. 2d, 
ob. I payd was for light money in time past. The Conclusion was, 
They will distrain me if they can find the land, and then come to 
a trial in their Court which is held at Smethe." 

" 1659. I was at Aldington Court, where I came before the 
Steward sate, yet were they then chusing for the 32 Denns, and 
Mr. Short brought me a note for chusing Mr. John Maynard, 
Serg* at Law. ... he was not chosen after the ancient custom of 
the Court, that is, to present two to the Steward, and he to take 
one. . . . The tenants of the 1 2 Denns pretended if it were some- 
time a Custom it had been long interrupted, and refused to follow 
the example of the 32. . . . after dinner, this grew a great dispute, 
Mr. Short complaining of partiality, that the choice of one man 
was received for the 12 and not for the 32 Dennes. This drew 
on the manner of chusing of the 32 Dennes, which was, that they 
usually met at 9 o' clock long before the Steward himself could 
reach the Court, made choice of one man before there was a 
Court. . . . This brought forth an excellent order, that the Denns 
should chuse and present the person by them chosen after the 

manner the other Culets did Coming away, the Bailiff told 

me he had a writ to distreyn me for the rent of the 32 Denns. I 

told him I had no land, held of it that I knew Sir Edward 

Sydnam, Lord of the Manor, and who is to answer the rents to 


the Exchequer, told me I would be distreyned for it, — my answer 
was, I was not willing to make my land chargeable with a burthen 
more than my ancestors had paid — that there was a Court of 
Survey to be kept in the Spring, — that if I could not then dis- 
charge myself of having land, held of the 32 Denns, I would and 
must pay it.*' 

" Aldington Court. 1 664. S' John Maynard Serg* at Law was 
chosen to the Great Office though it were affirmed, he being 
Kings Serg* would procure a dischai^. The order before men- 
tioned of 6«. 8^. for such Culets as received from the Steward a 
transcript of what they were to collect, and \0s. for the Great 
Office was at this Court willingly assented to." 

This determined refusal of a Markgraviat in the Mark of Kent 
is amusing enough : the Alberts, Berchtholds and Luitpolts did 
not make quite so much difficulty about Brandenburg, Baden or 
Ancona. How the dispute ended I do not know, but the right 
was not in question : all that Sir Rc^r doubted was its apphca- 
bility to himself. Still the nature of the jurisdiction seems clear 
Plough, and the transition of an old Mark Court into a Lord's 
Court, with a steward, is obvious from the custom of the Tenants 
chasing " before the Steward himself could reach the Court ;*' the 
abolition of which, Sir Roger naturally considered an excellent 




From the tables in the above chapter, it appears that we cannot 
allow one hundred actual acres to the Hid, and still less one hun- 
dred and twenty. A similar result will be obtained if we examine 
the entries in Domesday. Thus 



Key nsham, Somen, . . . 
Dowliah, Somert. ... 
Easton in Gordano, 


Babington, Somen,^ . 
Lullington, Somert.* . 

Road, Somer$.* , 

Pilton, Devon.* 

Taunton^ Somert.^ .... 
Portshead with West- 

hvaryt Somer$J 





















At 30 

At 40 

At 100 





At I so Ex« 
acres, at 30. 

! at 40. 













6000 1830 
1080^ 410 

2400 840 


600 450 
840 630 










I have intentionally selected 
whole acreage exactly makes up 

one or two examples where the 
the sum of hides multipUed by 

> Here are to be added 125 acres of meadow and wood, and one leuga of 
pasture. (Domesd. iii. p. 133.) 

3 Add 27 acres of mead and pasture, and a wood, 6 quadragenae long by 2 
qnadr. wide. (Ibid. p. 137.) 

* Add 20 acres of mead and pasture, and a wood, 6 quadragense long by 2 
wide. (Ibid. p. 137.) 

* Add 91 acres of mead, pasture and forest. (Ibid. p. 138.) 

* Add 86 acres of mead, etc., and a forest a leuga and a half square. But 
there was also land not geldable which sufficed for 20 ploughs ; and the 20 
geldable hides were calculated at 30 ploughs. Taking the same proportion, 
we ought to reckon not 30 but 33^ hides in Hilton, which at 30 acres would 
give 1000 arable ; at 40 would give 1333^, while the whole acreage is but 1210. 
This would exclude the calculation of 40 acres ; but we cannot trust the merely 
approximate supposition that the land for 20 ploughs was to be reckoned in 
the same proportion as that for 30. 

* Taunton properly is 52^ geldable hides, and land for 20 ploughs not geld- 
able. The 65 hides are made up subject to the same error as the last calcu- 
lation. The appendant manor of Lidgeard, with the meadow pastures, etc., 
amounting to 519 acres, is also to be added, as well as forest a leuga long, by 
a leuga wide, and pasture two leugae long by one wide. 

7 To these add 149 acres of mead, etc. Forest 12 quad. long by 3 wide : 
again forest 12 quad, long by 2 wide, and 6 quadragens of marsh. 



120, because it is probable that such instances may have led to 
that calculation : but it is necessary to bear in mind that the Hid 
is exclusively arable land, and that in the case where the number 
of hides equalled the whole acreage, there could have been neither 
forest, nor meadow nor pasture. The notes on some of the entries 
will show how erroneous any such calculation would necessarily 
be. And lest this assertion that the hid is exclusive of unbroken 
land should appear unsupported, I wish the following data to be 
considered. But first we must see how the hid is distributed into 
its component parts. In Domesday the hid consists of four yard- 
lands, virga or virgata : and the virga of four farthings or farlings, 
ferhngus, ferlinus, ferdinus, fertinus : thus 

1 fertiu. 

4 fertm. = l virg. 
1 6 fertin. = 4 virg. = 1 hide, 

whatever may have been the number of acres in the ferling. Again 

in Domesday, the amount of an estate held by any one is given, 

together with the amount of wood, meadow and pasture in his 

hands. If these be included in the amoimt of the hid, or its parts, 

which the tenant held, we shall arrive at the foUowmg results ; 

which (even for a moment taking the hid at 120 acres) are a 

series of reductiones ad absurdum. In the Exeter Domesday, 

fol. 205*^ (vol. ill. 187) I find an estate valued at 11 acres: the 

])€asture etc. mentioned as belonging to it is counted at 20 acres : 

these, it is clear, could not be comprised in the eleven. But let us 

take a few examples tubularly. 

Exon. Domesd. 


f. 210. 
f. 211. 
if. 211, b. 
'f. 211,b. 
If. 212. 
:f. 212. 
f. 213. 
f. 214. 
f. 216. 
f. 217. 
|f. 218. 
f. 224. 
>f. 224, b. 
'f. 225. 

vol. iii. 191. 1 














\ hide. 

1 virg. 

J ferl. (^ h.) 

1 virg. 

^ ferl. 

3 ferl. 

1 hide. 

1 virg. 

1 virg. 

1 virg. 

1 hide. 

1 liidc. 

1 ferl. 

1 ferl. 

Pasture, etc. 

At least. 

93 acres. .% hide= 186 acres. 














.*. hide- 
.'. hide 
.*. hide 
.*. hide 
.*. hide 
.-. hide- 
.*. hide- 
.*. hide: 
.'. hide = 
.-. hide: 
.-. liide = 
.*. hide: 
.*. hide- 



THE HID. 489 

Now it 18 particularlj necwsary to bear in mind that these ridi- 
culous amounts are the minimum ; that in every case the arable 
land remains to be added to them, and in some cases whole square 
miles of forest and moorland. I conclude then that the wood, 
meadow and pasture were not included in the hid or arable, but 
were appurtenant to it. Sometimes indeed they bear a very small 
proportion to the arable, and to the number of cattle owned — a 
fact perhaps to be explained by the existence of extensive com- 

Let us now endeavour to settle the amount, as well as the pro- 
portions of the hid and its several parts. As I have said the hid 
consisted of four virgates, the virgate of four ferlings*. I do not 
give examples, because they may be found in every other entry in 
Domesday ; but I may add that the gyld or tax payable to the 
king from the land, is based upon precisely the same calculation: 
the hfd paid 6 shillings (worth now about 18«. 6d,), the >irgate 
U. 6d., and the ferling y or 4|c?. Thus (Exon. D. f. 80, 80, b. 
vol. iii. p, 72.) in the hundred of Melebome, the king had 
^18 ISs. 4^. as geld from 63 hides and 1 ferling of land : 

now 63x6«. a378t. 

1 fer].x4^.» Of. Hd. 378t. 4^ or 18/. 18«. 4^. 

Agam (fol. 80, b. iii. p. 73.) the king had £9 10«. S^d. for 31 h. 
3 V. i ferl. 

f. e. 31x6«. »I86«. 

3xlt. M. » 49, 6d, 

iX 4i</.- 0t.2H 190«. Sid. or9/. 10«. 8id, 

in which passage, ferlingus is used for the coin as well as the mea- 
sure of land. Again in fol. 81, b. (vol. iii. p. 74) the geld for 
60 h. 3 V. 1^ ferl. was ^18 5«. O^d, ('* unum obolum et unum 

i.e. 60 x6f. =360«. 

3 xU.6d, » 4i.6d. 

lixOt. 4\d.^ Of. 6^, 365«. O^d. or 18/. 5t. 0|</. 

Or to test it another way; the hid= 1 6 ferlings, .'. 60 h.3v. 1^ ferl. 

^ From/eower, four. Fwrimg or Feor^ing are similar formations, and de- 
note a fourth, or farthing in money or land : also in corn (a quarter of com), 
and in the wards of a city. Ellis, Introd. p. 1. note. 



±=9731? ferl. But the ferl. paid A^d. .\ 973^ ferl. paid 43S0ld, 
which gives us the same value 181, 5*. O^d, 

Now if we can ohtain the value of any one of these denomina- 
tions, we can calculate all the rest with security. The value of the 
virga or yardland we can ohtain : it consisted of ten Nonnan agri, 
acrse or acres, perhaps eight or eight and a third Saxon. 

In the Exeter Domesday, fol. 48. (vol. iii. p. 42) we find ten 
hydes of land to he made up of the following parcels, 4 hides 
+ 1 virg. + lO agri-f 5^ hides+4 agri; 

then 10 h. = 9i h.+l v.+lO a. 

or 10-9ih.=.l v.-flOa. 

ori h. = l v.-f 10 a. 

But ih. = 2v. 

.-. 2 v. = l v.+lOa. 
2 — 1 v. = 10 a. .'. 1 virga=10 agri. 

But 1 hyd= 4 virg. = 16 ferling. 

.*. 1 hyd=40 acres =33^ Saxon. 
1 ferl.= 2^ acres = 2^ Saxon. 

It will now be seen why I have given a colunm in which the whole 
acreage was measured by a calculation of forty acres to the hid. 

That this result is a near approximation to the truth appears from 
the following considerations. In the Cornish Domesday, (a county 
where arable land bore a very small proportion to the markland, 
forest and pasture,) there are a great number of estates, valued at 
one ager or acre. These are generally said to pay geld for half a 
ferling. Thus in Treuurninet, one ager paid geld for half a ferl- 
ing': so in Penquaro^ in Trelemar^, in Landmatin*, in Chilon- 
goret\ in Roslet^, in Pengelli', in Telbricg^, in Karsalan-^ in 
Dinielhesc'^; and similarly in AVidewot, two agri paid geld for 
one ferling '^ Now throughout Domesday there are innumerable 
examples of land being rated at less than its real value, or even 

» Exon. D. f. 227. vol. iii. 206. 
3 Ibid. f. 234. vol iii. 213. 
s Ibid. f. 236. vol. iii. 216. 
7 Ibid. f. 245. vol. iii. 
» Ibid. f. 253, b. vol. iii. 233. 
" Ibid. f. 254, b. vol. iii. 234. 

2 Ibid. f. 233. vol. iii. 212. 
« Ibid. f. 235. vol. iii. 214. 
« Ibid. f. 239, b. vol. iii. 
« Ibid. f. 245, b. vol. iii. 225. 
»<> Ibid. f. 254, b. vol. iii. 234. 

THE HID. 491 

at its real value ; but I have not detected any instance in which 
is rated at more : and in Cornwall especially the rating seems 
to have been in favour of the tenant. I do not therefore believe 
that one ager was less than half a ferling : it was either more 
than half a ferling or equal to it. But ^ ferl.= 1^ Norman acre, 
which is more than one statute acre : therefore we may conclude 
that the ager or acre was equal to half a ferling. The way I under- 
stand this, is by the assumption that the Saxon acre was some- 
what larger than the Norman : we know that they differed in 
point of extents and it is possible that the original Saxon calcula- 
tion was founded upon multiples of eight, while the Norman was 
reduced to a decimal notation : if this were so, we may believe 
that the hid was the unit, and that its principal subdivisions re- 
mained, being familiar to the people, but that the value of the acre 
was slightly changed. Hence that the 

Saxon hid ==32 Saxon acres =40 Norman acres. 

virg. => 8 «10 

feor«ing= 2 = 2^ 

The document entituled " Rectitudines singularum personarum " 
saysS that the poor settler on first coming in, ought to have seven 
acres laid down for him in seed, out of his yardland ; and the 
same authority implies that his grass-land was usually short of 
his need : this it might be, if he had only one acre to support 
the two oxen and one cow with which his land was stocked on 
entry. The lot of meadow and pasture attached to these small 
plots of one ager, is so frequently quoted at thirty agri, in Corn- 
wall, that one could almost imagine an enclosure-bill to have been 
passed just previous to the Conquest, under which the possession 
of even so small a quantity as one acre qualified the owner to re- 
ceive a handsome share of the waste. 

It is obvious that all these calculations are ultimately founded 
upon the value of the acre relatively to our own statute measure, 
in which the survey of 1841 b expressed. That ager and acra 

1 Ellis, Introd. p. 1. The fractions, and the admixture of a decimal with 
the quarterly division, seem to imply that the later or Norman measure was 
the smaller of the two. ^ Thorpe, i. 434. 


are equivalent terms appears from their being used interchange- 
ably in various entries of Domesday. Nor is there any good rea- 
son to suppose that the Normans made any violent change in the 
values of these several denominations, although they might adopt 
more convenient subdivisions of the larger sums. They did just 
the same thing in respect to the Saxon money. Besides, as it was 
from the Saxons that they derived the information which the Sur- 
vey contains, it is reasonable to believe that the Saxon values were 
generally adopted, at least as far as the hid was concerned. The 
minute subdivision of land consequent upon the Conquest probably 
rendered it necessary to pay especial attention to the smaller units, 
and I can conceive nothing more likely than a slight change in 
the value of the acre, while the hid and virgate remained unalter- 
ed. Then where an estate comprised only one Saxon acre, it might 
readily be considered equal to half a ferling, or 1^ Norman mea- 
sure, for it would have been difficult and compUcated to express 
it in other terms. In fact where small fractional parcels of land 
were to be subtracted, the Commissioners were generally glad to 
avoid details, and enter " A. has so much in demesne, and the 
A^illani have aliam terram, the rest of the land" If the Saxon 
ager paid for half a ferling in the time of the Confessor, it was 
likely to be taken at that value in the Sur>'ey ; for the law, qute 
ile minimis non curate could hardly notice so trifling a deviation. 
The approximate value of the Saxon acre, however, I have given ; 
it was one day's work for a plough and oxen, in other words very 
nearly our own statute-acre. 

That the value of the hide became gradually indistinct, when 
reckonings ceased to be made in it, and the calculation was taken 
upon knights' fees, is ver>- intelUgible. We consequently tind 
sur])rising variations in the amount of hides counted to a knight's 
fee, as well as the acres contained in tliis last measure. In the 
time of Edward the Third it was computed that there were 60,215 
knight's fees in England, which taking the present acreage of 
31,770,615 gives rather more than 527 acres to a fee : hence those 
who beUeved a hide to contain 100 acres, calculated five hides to 
a knigbt'j* fee, in accordance with the Saxon law which made that 

THE HI'D. 493 

amount the minimum of a thane's estate, and also to the entries 
in Domesday, from which it appeared that one miles went from 
five hides: but here it was overlooked that the hide was exclusively 
arable land. To such erroneous modes of calculation we owe 
such entries as the following : — 

" Decem acrae faciunt fardellum, iv fardelli faciimt virgatam, qua- 

tuor virgatae faciunt hydam, quatuor hydae faciunt unum feodum/' 

MS. Harl. 464. fol. 17, b. 

where 1 £urdel = 10 acres. 

4 fiffdelsa 40 acres^ 1 virgate. 
16 fiffdels^ 160 acres— 4 virgates^l hide. 
64 £urde]8sB640 acres = 16 ▼irgate8»4 hides=l knight's fee. 

Again we are told (Regist. Burgi Sci. Petri, fol. 81, b.) that 

''Quinque feoda fuerunt antiquitus una baronia; et quinque 
hydae unum feodum; et quinque virgatae terrae una hyda, quae- 
Kbet virgata de viginti acris." 

Or tabularly, — 

1 virgate » 20 acres. 
5virgates» 100 acres— 1 hide. 
25 virgatesa 500 acres == 5 hides ==1 knight's fee. 
125 virgates = 2500 acres ^ 25 hides » 5 fees == 1 barony. 

which results neither coincide with the last, nor with those of 
Domesday, nor with those derived from Saxon authorities. 

The hidage of various ancient 64s which has been given in 
Chapter III. could naturally not be sufficient guide imder the new 
shire divisions. Unfortunately we have not a complete account 
of the hidage in the shires ; nor does what we have coincide with 
the conclusions arrived at in the course of the fourth chapter. 

In the Cotton. MS. Claud. B. vii. (fol. 204, b.), which appears 
to have been written in the time of Henry III., we have the fol- 
lowing entries : — 


In Wiltescyre continentur 4800 

In Bedefordscyre sunt 1200 

In Cantebrigescyre sunt 2500 

In Huntedunescyre sunt 800| 

In Northamptescyre sunt 3200 



Id Glttuccsterscyre sunt 2400 

Id Wirecesterscrre sunt 1200 

In Herefordescyre sunt 1500 

In Warewjcscyre sunt 1200 

In Osenefordscyre sunt 2400 

In Salopescyre aunt 2300 

Id CesterecjTe aunt 1300 

In StaSbrdeacyre aunt 500 

The Cotton MS. Vesp. A. xriii. ftil. 1 1 2, b., written in the reign 
of Edward I., gives a dUTerent list of counties, amoDg which the 
foUowing variatioDS occur : — 

Bedfordshire 1000 

Northamptonshire 4200 

Gloucestershire 2000 

Worcestershire 1500 

Shropshire 2400 

Cheshii* 1200 

If we pursue the plan heretofore adopted, we shall have these 
results : — 

Couarr. .ln«g»- 



"-""■' "™i""i 

Rtao ' 


WLIii. .868,060 


H 1.000 

1 92.000 '72i.o60i<i;e.ooai 

:S 1 


3«df. ..\297.6ii 



1^.000 261.632 '219.0321 

:;unb..:i3G.313 -^51)0 


100.000 l6U13',)36.313l 

:6 1 


Hum. . 212.250 eOO) 


32,020 218.235 


:9 I 

>-rhiii..6lt>.K10 32011 


128.(»0 550.810 


5lr,uc..790,irO 2100 


96,000 718.170 

S91,470 1 

:I0 1 

Wore. .159.710 1200 


l-i.OOO 123.700 



iIcrer..S13,HO0 1500 


60,000 502.800 


:11 1 

n.nT..567,930 1200 


18,000 531.930 

519,930 ' 

; 11-73 I 

Otrf.... 167.230 2100 


96,000 395530 


!5-5 1 

Silop..'8(il.3llO 2300 


92.000 795,360 

772,360 1 

;lI-5 1 


Zhttb. 619,050 1300 


52.000 610.050 

597,050 , 

: 15-ea 1 


Stiff... ;36.290, 500 


20.000 721.290 


-48 I 


Now either these figures cannot be reUed on, or we mtist carry 
the hide in this calculation to a very different amount. If we 
take it at 100 acres, we shall tind the whole hidage of these thirteen 
3 amounts (o 25,300 x 100 or 2,530,000, while the whole 

THE HID. 496 

acreage is 7,669,905 ; giving an excess of 5,139,905, and con- 
sequently a ratio of 25 : 51 nearly, or 1 : 2. This would a little ex- 
ceed the present ratio, which is 5 : 1 1 , a result which appears very 
improhable indeed in the reign of Henry III. But w^hen we con- 
sider the numberless errors of transcription, so unavoidable where 
merely numbers, and not words, are given, and the totally incon- 
sistent accounts contained in different manuscripts, we can hardly 
rest satisfied that the figures themselves are trustworthy. Even 
on the hypothesis that in the time of Henry III. or Edward I. 
the hide was calculated on the new footing of 1 00 acres, we yet 
could not reconcile the confiictmg amounts assigned to the counties 




The following examples of Manumission are iUustratiTe of the 
assertions in the text. 

And he wylle Seet man freoge 
eefter his deege selcne witefsestne 
man Se on his timan forgylt 
wsere. — Archbishop JElfric^ 

Bdtan Sset he6 wylee he Sinre 
ge^afimga Seet man freoge on 
aelcum tiinse s61cne wite|>e<Swn8e 
manu ^se under hirae gefeowud 
waes . — Queen JElfgyfu . 1012. 

Dset is aerest, ^aet ic geann 
tJset mau gefreoge selcne wite- 
fsestne man, Se ic on sprece 
dhte. — ^^^eUtan ^^^eling. 

And bedn heora mann frige 
Better heora beira daege. — 
Durst an, 1049. 

And it is his will that ye shall 
manumit after his life, every con- 
vict who has been ruined by 
crime, in his time. — Cod, Dipl, 
No. 716. 

Except that she wills, with 
thy permission, that they shall 
manumit in every one of her 
farms, everv convict who was 
reduced to slavery under her. — 
Cod. Dipl. No. 721. 

Firstly, I grant that they 
shall free everv conwt whom I 
got in suits. — Cod. Dipl. No. 

And let their serfs be free, 
after both their lives. — Cod. 
Dipl. No. 788. 

Dimidiam vero partem hominum qui in memorata terra sub 
ser^dtute degunt libertate donavimus. — Cod. Dipl. No. 919. 

Geatfleda geaf freols for Godes Geatfleed freed for God' s sake 

lufa^ for heora sawla fearfe, Saet and for her soul's need, namely 

is Ecceard smiS, -] iElstan ^ his Ecceard the smith and iElfstan 

w(f, ^ eall heora ofsprinc boren and his wife and all their off- 



"] unboren; -} Arcil 3 Cole, -} 
Ecgfer^ Eadhdnes dohter, -} 
ealle 5a men Sa he<Snon heora 
heafod for hyra mete, on Him 
yflam dagom. SwA hw4 swi 
Sis iwende "} hjre siiwla Sises 
bere^e, beredfige hine God 
celmihtig Sues lifes 3 heofona 
rices ; -3 s^ he Awjrged deM 3 
cwic aa on ^cnysse. And eic 
he6 hafaS gefreiSd 6a men 6e he<S 
^ngede set Cwsespatrike, Seet is 
iElfwald, 3 Colbrand, JElsie, -} 
Gkunal his sane, E^ulred Trede- 
wode 3 Uhtred his stedpsunu, 
Acolf 3 Durkyl 3 i£lsige. Hwi 
tie heom tSises bere^fie Grod eel- 
mihtig sie heom wrd5 "} sancte 
Cdt$berht. — Gedi/ad, about 

spring bom and unborn ; and 
Arcil and Cole and EcgferS Ead- 
hun*8 daughter, and all the men 
who bent their heads for food in 
the evil days. Whoso shall set 
this aside and deprive her soul 
of this, may Almighty God de- 
prive him both of this life and 
of the kingdom of heaven ; and 
be he accursed, quick or dead, for 
ever and ever. And she hath 
also freed the men for whom 
she interceded with Cosjmtrick, 
namely ^Ifwald, and Colbrand, 
iElfsige and Gamal his son, £ad- 
red Tredewood and Uhtred his 
stepson, Aculf and Thurkill 
and iElsige. Wlioso depriveth 
them of this, may he have the 
wrath of Almighty God and 
Saint Cuthbcrt.— CW. Dipf. 
No. 925. 

And ic wille Sset alle mine 
men h4n M on hirde and on 
tdne for me and for 56 5e me 
bigeten. — Le6fgyfu , 

And I will that all mv serfs be 
free, both in manor and farm, 
for my sake and the sake of 
them that begot me. — Cod. 
DipL No. 931. 

Her swutela5 on 5isse Cristes 
b6c 58et Le6fen<$5, i£geln<$5es 
0ima set Heorstdne, heef^ ge- 
boht hine "] his ofspring dt set 
iElfsige abbod "} set eallon hi- 
rede on Ba5on, mid Hf oran and 
mid xii he^don sceapa, on Ledf- 
VOL. I. 

Here witnesseth in this book 
of gospels, that Leofeno5, iE5el- 
no5*s son of Harston, hath 
bought out himself and his off- 
spring, from abbot iElfsige and 
all the brotherhood at Bath, 
with five ores and twelve head 

2 K 



dldes gewitnesse portgerefan, of sheep, by witness of Leof- 

and on ealre tSsere burhware on cild the portreeye, and all the 

Baik)n. Crist hine ^blende tSe commonalty of Bath. Chnst 

Sis cefre awende. — Cont?ent of blind him that ever setteth this 

Batk. aside I— Cod. Dipt. No. 933. 

Her swutelaS on Sisse Cnstes 
b^ tSaet iEgekige eet Lintiinne 
\aeS& geboht Wilsige his sunu 
i&t set ^Ifsige abbod on BatSon, 
and set eaUon hirede US ^cean 
fre6te. — Content of Bath, 

Here witnesseth in this book 
of gospels, that iBSelsige of Lin- 
ton hath bought out Wilsige 
his son from .^Hfsige abbot at 
Bath, and all the brotherhood, 
to eternal freedom. — Cod, DipL 
No. 934. 

Her swutelat^ on t^isse Cristes 
b^ tSaet JSgelsige Bx-ttices sunu 
haef^ geboht Hildesige his sunu 
lit set .£lfsige abbod on BaSon, 
and set eaUon hirede mid STXti- 
gon pen^ou t6 ^an freote. — 
Convent of Bath, 

Here witnesseth in this book 
of gospels, that .£6elaige, Bjt- 
tic*s son, hath bou^t out Hil- 
desige his son from ^fsige, 
abbot at Bath and all the bro- 
therhood, with sixty pence, that 
he mav be free for ever. — Cod. 
DipL No. 935. 

Her swutelaC on tJisse Cristes 
bee tSset Godwig se bucca haefC 
geboht Leofgife t5a dagean set 
NofSstoce ^ hyre ofspriiig mid 
healiaii pmide set .Elfsige abbod 
to eceau freote, on eaDes Sees 
hiredes gewitnesse on Ba^on. 
Crist hine aiblende Se Sis refre 
liwende. — Content of Bath. 

Here witnesseth in this book 
of gospels, that Godwig the 
buck hath bought Leofgifu the 
doe at Northstock, and all her 
oifspriiig, with half a pound from 
abbot ^Ifsige, that she may be 
free for ever, bv witness of all 


the brotherhood in Bath. Christ 
blind him who ever setteth this 
aside. — Cod. Dipt. No. 936. 

Her swutelaS on Sisse Cristes Here witnesseth in this book 
bee Sset ^Elsige abbod hsefS ge- of gospels, that abbot .Elfsige 



fre6d God wine bace aet St^tdne 
for hine "} for calne Sone hired 
on Batman, on Semannes gewit- 
nesse •} Wulwiges set Prisctdne 
■3 i£lfrice8 cermes. — Convent of 

An ic an mine landseSlen here 
tofles t6 <$wen aihte 3 alle mine 
men frc. — Sigefiaed, 

And ic an tSaet land set Tit \\\i6 
sevntePaules kirke tSen hewen t(S 
blonde mid al Saet S^ron stant, 
buten 5e men t5e 5ser dren M 
men alle for mine sdule. And 
ic an Sset land aet SuSereye mid 
alle ^e fiscoSe Se tS^rtd bireS Sen 
hewen intd sancte Panics kirke, 
and frie men t$o men for Se bi- 
scopes 8<$ule. . . . And ic an t^set 
lond set LutSinglond Offe mine 
sustres sune 3 his brdSer, -] frd 
men ^ men halue, and set Mind- 
hAm als<S for iSe biscopes sdule 

And lete mon stonden 8<5 

mikel s<5 ic S^ron fond, and fre 
men t$o men alle for mine sdule 
. — — Bishop Deddred. 

hath freed Godwine Back of 
Stanton, for his own sake and 
that of all the brotherhood at 
Bath, by witness of Seman and 
Wulfwig of Prisctiin and iElfric 
Cerm.— C<w/. Dipl. No. 937. 

And to my tenants I give 
their tofts to be their own pro- 
perty, and all my serfs free. — 
Cod. DipL No. 947. 

And I grant the land at Tit 
to the brotherhood at St. Paul's 
church for the support of their 
table, with all that is upon it, 
except the serfs there ; let them 
emancipate these for my soul's 

sake And I grant the land 

in Surrey with all the fishery 
thereunto appertaining to the 
brotherhood of St. Paul's 
church, and let the serfs be freed 
for the bishop's soul .... And I 
grant the estate at LuSingland 
to Offe my sister's sou, and his 
brother, and let half the serfs 
there be freed, and so also at 
Mendham for the bishop's soul 
.... And [at Hoxne] let them 
leave as much stock as I found 
there, and let all the serfs be 
freed for my soul. — Cod. DipL 
No. 957. 

Erst for his sdule Palegraue First for his soul, Palgrave to 
into Sevnt Eadmnnd, •] Witing- St. Edmund, and half Witing- 

2 k2 



hdm half, "} half Se bisscop : and 
alle mine men fr^, and ilk hsebbe 
his toft 3 his metecd *] his mete- 
corn . — DurcyteL 

Her swutela^ on tSisum ge- 
write Seet iEgelsi on Wuldehdm 
heefV gel^ned be Siwordes deege 
biscopes his ddhter '] heore 
diShter lit of Totteles cynne, "^ 
hffif5 (S«ra mffinn Sxrin ged($n, 
be Ss^re burhware gewitnesse 
on Hroueceaster 3 be ealle Sses 
biscopes geferan. — ^^elsige. 

And alle tk) men fn^ for unker 
biStJer sdnle. — Wulfsige. 

Durkil and iE^elgit unnen 
Wigorham int6 seynt Eadmunde 
8<S fill and s6 fortJ so wit it dwen, 
after unker b6Ser day, "] So men 
half frc, feowe ■] lisingas. — 

ham, the other half to the bi- 
shop: and all my serfs free, and 
let each have his toft, and his 
meatcow and his meatcom. — 
Cod, DipL No. 959. 

This writing witnesseth that 
i£6elsige of Wonldham hath 
borrowed for the life of Bishop 
Sigeward, his daughter and her 
daughter out of Tottles kin, and 
hath replaced them by other 
serfs, by witness of all the com- 
monalty of Rochester, and the 
bbhop's comrades. — Cod. DipL 
No. 975. 

And all the serfs free, for both 
our souls. — Cod, DipL No. 979. 

Thurkill and iEtJelgiS grant 
Wigorham to St. Edmimd, as 
full and as forth as we two 
owned it, after both our lives, 
and let them free half the men, 
both )>e<5ws and lisings. — Cod. 
DipL No. 980. 

The following manumissions from a religious book, formerly 
the property of St. Petroc's, are selected from a much larger num- 
ber found in the Codex Dipl. No. 981. The British names which 
occur in them are of great interest. 

Des ys 15ses manes nania Se This is the man's name whom 
Byrhsie gefreade et Petrocys Byrhtsige freed at St. Petroc's, 
stowe, Byhstan hdte Bluntan Byhstdn he was called Bluuta*s 



siinu, ou iESelhlde gewitnjse 
hjs ^en wif, and on Byrhisijs 
maesepredstes, and on Riol, and 
Mynnen, and Wimsie, Mor- 
haetSiSo, and Cynsie, pre<Sst. 

Woenumon and hire te^, 
Mdnii« hire swuster and hire 
tedm, and Wurgustel and his 
te^, warun gefre<5d h^r on 
tdne for E^ulryde cynigc and 
for .£^l[geard] biscop an Sas 
hiiydes gewitnesse Se h^r on 
ttine syndun. 

Marh gefreiSde LeSelt and 
ealle hire te^ for Eddwig cy- 
ningc on his s%en reliqoias: and 
he hie h^ Icedan hider t6 myn- 
stere, and h^r gefre<5gian on Pe- 
inxys reliquias, on Sees hirydes 

Her kf6 on tSissere b^ Saet 
bohte hme wifinann On- 


gynelSel h^te and hire sunu 
GySiccsel set Durcilde mid healfe 
pnnde, set Si^re cirican dura on 
Bodmine, and sealde iEilsige 
portgerdua and Maccosse hun- 
dredes mann .iiii. pengas t6 
tolle ; m ferde iEilsig t<$ Se Sa 
men bohte, and nam hig and 
fredde dpp an Petrocys weofede, 
^re sacles, on gewitnesse Sissa 

son, by witness of i£t(elh(5 his 
own wife, and Byrrhtsige the 
mass priest, and Riol, Myrmen, 
Wynsige, MorheeSSo and Cyn- 
sige the priest. 

Wuenumon and her offspring, 
Morui6 her sister and her off- 
spring, and Wurgustel and his 
offspring were manumitted here 
in the town, for Eadred the king 
and iEt$eIgeard the bishop, by 
witness of all the brotherhood 
here in the town. 

Marh freed LeSelt and all her 
progeny for EMwig the king, 
upon his own reliques : and he 
caused her to be led hither to 
the minster, and here to be freed 
on Petroc's reliques, by witness 
of the brotherhood. 

This book witnesseth that 
i£lfsige bought a woman named 
OngyneCel and her son GySic- 
csel from Durcild for half a 
pound, at the church-door in 
Bodmin, and gave iElfsige the 
portreeve and Maccos the hun- 
dred-man, four pence as toll; 
then went iElfsige, who bought 
the serfs, and freed them at Pe- 
troc's altar, eyer sacless, by wit- 
ness of the following good men : 



gtSdera manna : ^aet wses, Isaac 
messepre6st, andBleScuf messe- 
pre<5st, and Wanning mcsse- 
pre6st, andWulfg^r messeprecSst, 
and Grifiu^ messeprecSst, and 
Noe messeprecSst, and Wur8ici6 
messepredst, and iEilsig diacon, 
and Maccos, and Te^ion Mo- 
dredis sunn, and Kynilm, and 
BeiSrldf, and Dirling, and Grat- 
cant, and Talan. And gif hwd 
tJas frecSt dbrece, hebbe him wit5 
Criste gem^e. Amen. 

namely, Isaac the masspriest, 
BletScuf the roasspiiest, Wun- 
ning the masspriest, Wulfger 
the masspriest, tjiifiutS the 
masspriest, Noe the masspriest, 
Wur5ici^ the masspriest, and 
iElfsige the deacon, and Maccos, 
and Te^ion Modred's son, and 
Cynehelm, BedrUif, Dirhng, 
Gratcant and Talan. And whoso 
breaketh this freedom, let him 
settle it with Christ ! Amen. 

Her kyt5 on Sissere b^ t^set 
iElMc iElfwines sunu wolde 
)>e6wian Putraele him t6 nyd- 
)>e<5wetlinge. Di cum Putrael 
t6 Boia and bed his forespece 
to ^Ifrice his breSere : t5a sette 
Boia 6es spece \vi6 /Elfricc; tiset 
wees Saet Putrael scalde ^Elfrice 
.VIII. oxa set t^cre ciricaii dura 
set Bodminc, and gef Boia sixtig 
penga for 5cre forspoecc, and 
dide hine sylfne and his ofspreng 
wfre freols and saccles frani ?iam 
dsege, wis /Elfrice and wi(5 Boia 
and wis ealle iElfwines cvld 
and heora ofspreng, on Sisscre 
gewittnisse : Isaac messepredst, 
and Wunning presbyter, and 
Sewulf presbyter, and Godric 
diacon, and Cufure prauost, and 
W'incnf, and Wullwerd, and 

This book witnesseth that 
JElfric the son of ^fwine want- 
ed to enslave Putrael as a need- 
serf. Then came Putrael to 
Boia and begged his interces- 
sion with his brother iElfric: 
and Boia made this agreement 
with iEIfric ; namelv that Pu- 
trael gave iElfric viii oxen at 
the church-door in Bodmin, and 
gave Boia sixty pence for tBe 
intercession, and so made him- 
self and his offspruig ever free 
and sacless from that day forth, 
as to iElfric, Boia, and all .Elf- 
wine's cliildren and their off- 
spring, by this witness : Isaac 
the masspriest, Wunning tbe 
presbyter, S(?wulf the presby- 
ter, Godric the deacon, Cufure 
the provost, Wincuf, Wulfwerd, 



Gestin, See bisceopes stiwerd, 
and Artaca, and Kinilm, and 
Ciodric map, and Wulfger, and 
mi gddra manna. 

H^ c^ on tSyson b^ iktt 
^wold gefredde Hwatu for hys 
fliwle a[t] Petrocys stow a degye 
and sefter degye. An[d] iElger 
ys gewytnesse, and Godric, and 
WalloS, andGiyfyiS, and Blej-fJ- 
cuf, and Salaman. And hebbe 
he Gode eura and sanctes Pe- 
trocns and aealle welkvues sane- 
tas 5e Set brece Seet vdun vs. 

Gestin the bisliop*s steward, 
Artaca» Kinihn, Godric Map, 
Wulfgar and other good men. 

This book witnesseth that 
iElfwold freed Hwatu for his 
soul, at St. Petroc*s, both during 
life and after life. And ^Elfg^ 
is a witness, and Grodric, and 
\Vallo6, and Griffith, and Bley6- 
cuf, and Salaman. And let him 
who breaketh what is done have 
the curse of God and St. Petroc 
and all the saints of heaven. 

Des sint ISa menn 5e Wulf- 
sige byscop freode for Eadgar 
cinig and for hyne sawle, tct 
Petrocys wefode : Leuhelec, We- 
let, . . nwalt, Beli, losep, Den- 
gel, Proswite, Tancwuestel : an 
^SnB gewitnese, Byrhsige msesse- 
prost. Mermen masseprost, Mar, 
Catuuti, Wenwiu, Puer, Me5- 
wuistel, losep. 

Dvs svndnn Sara manna na- 
man Se Wulfsige byscop gefre6- 
det let Petrocys wefode for Ead- 
gar and for huic silfne ; and 
B}Thsi ys gewitnese masseprost, 
and Mermen massepriSst, and 
Morhi : Diusct and calle here 

These are the men whom 
Wulfsige the bishop freed for 
Eadgiir the king and for his own 
soul, at Petroc' s altar: Leuhelec, 

Welet nwalt, Beli, Josep, 

Dengel, Proswite, Tancwues- 
tel : by witness of Byrhsige the 
masspriest. Mermen the mass- 
priest, Mar, Catuuti, Wenwiu, 
Pucr, MeSwuistel, Josep. 

Tliese are the names of the 
men whom Wulfsige the bishop 
freed at Petroc' s altar for Ead- 
gar and himself ; by witness of 
Byrhsi the masspriest, Mermen 
the masspriest and Morhi : Diu- 
set and all her offspring. 



Dys sindun tMlra manna na- 
man i$e Wunsie gefredde at 
Petrocys stowe, [for] E^dg^r 
cinig, on ealle Sses liiredys ge- 
witnesse : Conmonoc,Iarnwallon, 
and Wenw8ef51on and Maeiloc. 

These are the names of the 
serfs whom Wunsige freed at 
St. Petroc's, for king Eddgir, 
by witness of all the brother- 
hood : Conmonoe, lamwallon, 
WenwaerSlon and Mceiloc. 

iElfred by his will manumitted all his unfree dependents, and 
with great care provided for their enjoyment of this hberty : he 
says': — 

And ic bidde on godes naman 
and on his h^gra, tSset minra 
maga ndn n^ yrfewearda ne 
-geswence ndn nsenig cyrelif 5dra 
tJe ic foregeald, •] me West- 
seaxeua witan t6 rihte gerehton, 
tSaet ic hi m<$t Isetan swd freo 
swd )>e<5we, swdSer ic wille ; ac 
ic for Godes lufan and for minre 
SHwle fearfe, wylle Sset hy syn 
heora freolses wyrSe, ^ hyre 
cyrcs ; and ic on Godes lifiendes 
naman beode, ^aet by ndn man 
ne brocie, ne mid feos manunge, 
ne mid naeningnni pingiim, fiset 
liic ne mdtan ceosan swylcne 
mann swylce hie wyllan. 

And I pray in the name of 
God and of his saints, that none 
of my kinsmen or heirs oppress 
any of my dependents for whom 
I paid, and whom the witan of 
the Westsaxons legally adjudged 
to me, that I might leave them 
free or fe^w, whichever I chose; 
but I for God's love and my own 
soul's need, \^ill that they shall 
enjoy their freedom and their 
choice ; and I command m the 
name of the linug God, that no 
one disquiet them, either by de- 
mand of money, or in any other 
way, so that they may not choose 
whomsoever they please [as a 
protector] . 

Cyrelif is a person who has a right of choice, or who has exer- 
cised a choice : these must have been poor men, free or unfree, who 
liad attached themselves personally to ^Elfred, voluntarily or not. 
Tie provides that these as well as his serfs may have full liberty 
to select any other lord, without disquiet through demands of 

' Cod. Dipl. No. 314. 



arrears or any other claims. This is confirmatory of the view 
taken in the text, that the manumitted serf was obliged to find 
himself a lord, and so did not become fuUy free. 

And freoge man Wulfware, 
folgige i$dm Se hyre le6fo[st s^,] 

ealswd, and freoge man 

Wnlflsede on ^eet gerdd tSset bed 
folgige iEMflsede -] Eddgyfe : 
and he4 becwsetS Eadgyfe dne 
crencestran 3 ^e s^mestran, 
66er hitte Eddgyfii, 65er hitte 
iESelgyfu; 'j freoge man Ger- 

burg -} Miscin, •] his el, 

■3 Burhulfes d<5htur set Cinnuc, 
'j ^fsige 'j his wif 'j his yldran 
dohter, "3 Ce<Slst^es wlf ; ^ set 
Ceorlattine freoge man Pifns '} 

Eadwyne, *] e ... an wife; 

*] set Faccancumbe freoge man 
iE^elm -} Man *] lohannan, *] 
Sprow •] his wlf, ^ Ene faette, 
•] Gersande "] Suel ; "3 aet Colles- 
hylle freoge man iECelg^e "} 
Biccan wif, ^ iEffan ^ Bedan, ^ 
Gurhannes wlf, *] freoge man 
Wul^are swystorBryhsigeswlf, 

^ tJisne wyrhtan, -} Wiilf- 

gf^ iElfsw^e debtor: -} gif 
fiaer hwylc witefecSwman s^ 
buton tJyson, tJe he<S gefedwede, 
he6 ge\ff6 t6 hyre beamon ^aet 
hi'hine wyllon lihtan for hyre 

And let Wnl^aru be free, and 
follow whom she best pleases, 

and also , and let Wulfls^d 

be freed on condition that she 
follow iESelflsed and Edith : and 
she bequeathed to Edith one 
weaving woman and one semp- 
stress, the one called Edith, the 
other jECelgifu; and let them 
free Gerburg, and Miscin, and 
his ... . and BurhwulTs daugh- 
ter at Cinnuc, and iElfsige and 
his wife and elder daughter, and 
Ce<$lstiui*s wife ; and at Charlton 
let them free Pifus and Eadwyn, 

and wife; and atFaccombe 

Iq^ them free iESelm, and Man, 
and Johanna, and Sprow and his 
wife, and Ene the fat, and Ger- 
sand and Sucl ; and at Coleshill 
let them free JEMgyt and 
Bicca*s wife, iEffc and Bede, 
and Gurhan*s wife, and let them 
free Wulfware's sister Byrhsiges 

wife and this wright, and 

Wulfg^S iElfsw^S's daughter: 
and if there be any other con- 
victs besides these, whom she re- 
duced to slavery, she trusts that 
her children will give them this 
alleviation for her soul*s sake 



Denne an hi6 iSdn hiwum iSdra 
gebiira ^e on ^am gafollande sitt- 
a^, *] 9^ra pe6wra, manna hid an 
hyre syna d^ter EMgyfe •] tJaes 
yrfes, biitan ^im sAvhcestte 5e 
man t<5 Gifle syllan sceal ; -) hi<5 
wylle tSset man Isete on S^m 
lande standan yi oxan *] iiii c^ 
mid iiii ceal^m; *] of ^dm 
)>e6wan mannan set Cinnuc he6 
becwit5 Eddwolde, Ceolstan Ed- 
stdnes sunu, *] Mffan sunu; *] 
Burhwynne, Martin •] his wif ; 
-} hi<5 becwiC Eddgyfe Caer 
angean iElfsige t$ene c<Sc •] Tefl 
Wareburgan d6htor, -} Qerestan 
^ his wif, ^ Ecelm ^ his wlf, •] 
heora cild, •] Cynestdn •] Wyn- 
sige, "3 Bryht rices sunu, •] Edd- 
wyime, j Buneles sunu j iElf- 
wcrcs dohtor ; and hi6 beo^i^ 
yESclflcude Elhhelmes dehter 
(Sa geongran. — Wynfced, about 

Then she grants the conyent 
the boors who at on rent-paying 
land, and the serfs she giyes to 
her son* s daughter Edith, and also 
the chattels, except the sonl-ahot 
which they are to pay to Gifle* 
And it is her will that they shall 
leave on the land six oxen and 
four cows with four calves; and 
of the serfs at Cinnuc she be- 
queaths to Eddwold, C^lstdn 
Edstdn's son, and ^ffe's son; 
and to Burhwyn she gives Mar- 
tin and his wife ; and she be- 
queaths again, to Edith, iElfsige 
the cook, and Tefl, Waerburge's 
daughter, and Herestan and his 
wife, Eghelm and his wife and 
their child, Cynestdn and Wyn- 
sige and Brihtric's son, and 
Eadwyn, and Bunel's son, and 
^Ifwcres daughter; and slie 
bequeaths to jESelflaed Ealh- 
helms younger daughter. — Cod. 
Dipt. No. 1290. 

The next passage which I have to cite is unhappily very cor- 
riij)t, but as the sense is obvious I have given such corrections as 
were required : the readings of the MS. may be seen in the copy 
printed Cod. Dipl. No. 1339. 

And ic wille ^eet mine men 

be(5n ealle freo And ic wille 

^aet ealle Sa men Sa ic an freo, 
Sret hi hsebben ealle |nng Sa hy 
under hande babbaS, butan Sset 

And I will that my serfs sball 
all be free .... And I will that all 
the men to whom I grant free- 
dom shall have everj thing which 
is under their hand, except the 



load set Herelingum Stigande 
arcebisceope minum hliforde, 
8wd hit stent, biitan 9a men be6n 
ealle freo. — Cytel, about 1055. 

land at Harling which I give to 
archbishop Stigand my lord, as 
it stands, only that the serfs 
are all to be free. — Cod, Dipt, 
No. 1342. 

The following manumissions are recorded by the Convent in 
Bath. They will be found in the Codex Diplomaticus, No. 1351 . 

H^r swutelaS on ^issere Cristes 
b^ t$8et E^dric set Fordan haef 9 
geboht Saeg^fu his debtor set 
iElfsige abbod and set iShn hi- 
rede on BaSan t<$ ^um fre<5te, 
and eall hire ofspring. 

H^r swutelaiS on 9isse Cristes 
b^ tSset ^Ifric Scot and iEgelric 
Scot synd gefre<$d for iElfsiges 
abbodes sdwle t6 ^n fredte. 
Dis is ged(Sn on ealles hiredes 

Her swutelaS on tJissere Cristes 
bee, Cset iElfwig se rM hsefiS ge- 
boht bine selfne dt set ^Ifsige 
abbot and eallon hirede mid 
anon punde. DAr is t6 gcwitnes 
eall se hired on Ba^an. Crist 
bine dblende 9e Sis gewrit 

Here witnesseth on this book 
of gospels that Eddric at Ford 
hath bought Ssegyfii his daugh- 
ter from iElfsige the abbot and 
the convent at Bath, that she 
may be free for ever, and all 
her offspring. 

Here witnesseth on this book 
of gospels, that iElfric the Scot 
and iESelrlc the Scot are made 
free, for the soul of abbot iElf- 
sige, that they may be free for 
ever. This is done by witness 
of all the convent. 

Here witnesseth on this book 
of gospels, that iElfwig the red 
hath bought himself out from 
iElfsige the abbot and all the 
convent for one pound. To this 
is witness all the convent in 
Bath. Christ bhnd him who 
setteth this writ aside ! 

Her swutelaS in tSisre Cristes Here witnesseth on this book 
b^, Sset lohann hceftS geboht of gospels, that John hath 



Gimnilde, purkilles d6hter, set 
Gr6de, Leofen^tSes Ufe, t6 healfan 
punde, on ealles hiredes gewit- 
nysse. Crist hine dblende, t$e 
dis gewrit dwende. And he 
haefS hi beteht Criste ^ sancte 
Petre for his mdder sdwle. 

bought Gunhild, Thurkil*8 
daughter, from G6de LeofeniS's 
widow, for half a pound, by wit- 
ness of all the convent. Christ 
blind him who setteth this writ 
aside ! And he hath given her 
to Christ and St. Peter for his 
mother's soul. 

Her swutelat^ on iSissere Cristes 
b^, t5flet Ssewi Hagg eet Wide- 
cumbe hseft^ ged6n dt his twegen 
sunaset^lfsige abbude,on ealles 
hiredes gewitnesse. 

Here witnesseth on this book 
of gospels, that Si6wig Hagg of 
Widcomb hath done out his two 
sons from ^Ifsige the abbot, by 
witness of all the convent. 

Her swutelat^ on t$issere Cristes 
b^, tJeet iEgylmaer bohte Ss6- 
^rfiSe set Ssewolde abbude, mid 
.III. maxan on ealles hiredes 
ge\\'ituysse ; and ofer his dseg 
and his wifes daeg beo se man 
iVcoh. Crist hine ableiide, t5e 
?is gewrit awcnde. 

Here witnesseth on this book 
of gospels, that .£^elm2§r bought 
Sset$r^S from Si^wold the abbot 
for two mancuses, by witness 
of all the convent ; and after his 
and his wife's life let the serf 
be free. Christ blind him who 
setteth this writ aside ! 

Her swutela^ on ftissere Cristes 
biV, 5«et Wulfwiiie Hareberd 
bohte »et ^Ifsige abbude, .Elf- 
gViVuiid healfan pimde on ealles 
hinnles gewitnysse : and Crist 
hine ableude ?>e ftis gewrit 

Here witnesseth on this book 
of gospels, that Wulfwine Hoar- 
beard bought ^ElfgyC from ab- 
bot ^Ifsige for half a pound, by 
witness of all the convent : and 
Christ blind him who setteth 
this writ aside I 

Her swutelaS on Mssere Cristes 
ht'w ^apt ."Effvlsitre bohte W'vuric 
apt .Elfsigt.^ abbude mid anon yre 
prides. Dysses ys to gewitnysse 

Here witnesseth on this book 
of gospels, that .ESelsige bought 
Wynric from abbot .illfsige for 
an ore of gold. The witnesses of 



^fryd portger^ua and eal se 
hired on BaSon. Crist hine 
ablende 5e Sis gewrit awende. 

Her swntelatS on Sissere Cristes 
b^ tSset Siwine LedfVies sunu 
letLincnmbe bafaS geboht Svde- 
flaede dt mid f if scrllingam and 

penegam et lohanne bi- 

aeope and et eallon Sam birede 
onBaSon t6 ^um fre6te: andber 
t6 is gewitnesse Grodnc Ladda 
and Saewold and bis twegen su- 
nan Scirewold and Bribtwold. 

Her swntelaS on Sisse Cristes 
b^ Sect LifgiS et Forda is ge> 
fre6d, and bire tw£ did, for Sone 
bisoop Jobanne and for ealne 
Sone bired on BaSon, on iElf- 
redes gewitnesse Aspania. 

Her crS on Sisse bee Seet 
H[mi]fl[5ed] gebobte WulfgySe 
aet iElfirice .£5elstines sa[na] 
.£Selminge8, on Winemines ge- 
witnisse eald-portgerefan, and on 
Godrices bis snna, and on ^Elf- 
wines Mannan snna, and on Le<S- 
fHoes dldes set Hjmed, and on 
JElfrfoes .£lfbelmes sona ge<Sn- 
gan : and Brun brdel nam Saet 
toll on .flfstanes gewitnisse 
maessepretSstes and on Le<Sfnoe8 
Winemines suna, and on mi 
l[igweda 1 gebidodra.] 

tbis arc i£lfred tbe portreeve 
and all tbe conyent at Batb. 
Cbrist blind bim wbo setteth 
tbis writ aside ! 

Here witnessetli on tbis book 
of gospels, tbat Sigewine Le6f- 
wige's son of lincomb batb 
bougbt Sjdefl^ed out witb fire 
shillings and .... pence from 
bishop John and all the convent 
at Bath, to be free for ever: 
and witness thereof are GrodrCc 
Ladda, and Saewold and his two 
sons Scirewold and Bribtwold. 

Here witnesseth on this book 
of gospels, that LifgiS at Ford 
is freed, witb her two children, 
for bishop John and all the 
convent at Bath, by witness of 
^Elfred Aspania. 

Here witnesseth in this book 
that Hunflxd bought Wulfgf'S 
from iElfnc tbe son of .£5elstan 
the son of .ESelm, by witness 
of Winemine tbe old portreeve, 
and of Godric bis son, and .Elf- 
wine Manna* s son, and LetSfric 
tbe child at Hvmed, and .Elfiric 
iElfhelm's son, tbe young : and 
Bnin the beadle took tbe toll 
bv witness of iElfstin tbe mass 
priest, of Le<SfHc Wincmine's 
son, and more persons both lay 
and ordained. — Cod. Dipt. No. 


These examples, so numerous and varied, supply a Tery clear 
yiew of the mode of emancipation, and its objects, in the Anglo- 
saxon time. It is to be regretted that we have not more of them, 
and from other places : but still, as it is probable that the system 
adopted by the clergy prevailed throughout England, these may 
senre as a very satisfactory specimen of the usual course on these 
occasions, — both as to the form of manumission and the method 
of providing for the emancipated serf. 



(From the Cod. Dipl. Xo. 942.) 

" This writing witnesseth that Grey hath granted the guildhall 
at Ahbotshurr and the site thereof, to the honour of God and St. 
Peter, and for a property to the guild, hoth during his life and 
aaer his life, for a long lasting commemoration of himself and his 
consort. Let him that would set it aside, answer it to God in the 
great day of judgement ! 

*' Now these are the corenants which Orcy and the gyldsmen of 
Abbotshury hare ordained, to the honour of God, the worship of 
St. Peter, and the hele of their own souls. Firstly ; three davs 
before St. Peter's mass, from each guildbrother one penny, or one 
pennyworth of wax, — look which the minster most needeth ; and 
on the ^lass eve, from every two gufldbrothers one broad loaf, 
well sifted and well raised, towards our common alms ; and five 
weeks before Peter^s mass, let each guildbrother contribute one 
guildsester full of clean wheat, and let this be paid within two 
days, on forfeiture of the entrance, which is three sesters of wheat. 
And let the wood be pa^ within three days after the com-coD- 
tribution, from every full guildbrother one load of wood, and 
from those who are not full brothers, two ; or let him pay one 
guildsester of com. And let him that undertaketh a charge 
and perfcHineth it not accordingly, be mulcted in the amount of 
his entrance ; and be there no remission. And if one brother mis- 
greet another within the guild, in hostile temper, let him atone 
for it to all the fellowship with the amount of his entrance, and 
after that to him whom he misgreeted, as they two may arrange : 
and if he w31 not bend to compensation, let him lose our feflow- 


ship and every other advantage of the guild. And let him that 
introduceth more guests than he ought, without leave of the stew- 
ard and the caterers, forfeit his entrance. And if any of our fel- 
lowship should pass away from us, let each brother contribute a 
penny over the corpse for the soul's hele or pay bro- 
thers : and if any one of us should be afflicted with sickness within 

sixty we are to find fifteen men who shall fetch him, 

and if he be dead, thirty, and they shall bring him to the place 
which he desired to go to, while he lived. And if he die in this 
present place, let the steward have warning to what place the 
corpse is to go ; and let the steward warn the brethren, the greatest 
number that he can ride or send to, that they shall come thither and 
worthily accompany the corpse and bear it to the minster, and 
earnestly pray there for the soul. It is rightly ordained a guild- 
ship if we do thus, and well fitting it is both toward Grod and 
man : for we know not which of us shall first depart. 

" Now we have faith, through Grod's assistance, that the afore- 
said ordinance, if we rightly maintain it, shall be to the benefit of 
us all. Let us earnestly from the bottom of our hearts beseech 
Almighty God to have mercy upon us, and also his holy apostle 
St. Peter to make iutercessiou for us, and take our way unto eter- 
nal rest, because for his sake we have gathered this guild together; 
he hath the power in heaven to admit into heaven whom so he 
will, and to exclude whom so he will not, even as Christ himself 
spake unto him in his gospel : Peter, I give to thee the keys of 
heaven, and whatsoever thou wilt have bound on earth, the same 
shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou wilt have unbound 
on earth, the same shall be mibound in heaven. Let us have 
hope and trust in him, that he will guide us here in this world, 
and after death be a help to our souls. May he bring us to eternal 
rest! x\men ! '' 


" This assembly was collected in Exeter, for the love of God, and 
for our souls' need, both in regard to our health of hfe here, and 
to the after days, which we desire for ourselves by God's doom. 


Now we bftve agreed that our meeting shall be thrice in the twelve 
mooths ; onoeat St. Michael's Mass, secondly at St. Mary's Mass, 
after midwinter, and thirdly at Allhallows Mass after Easter ; and 
let each gfld-hrother hare two sesters of malt, and each young 
man* one aester, and a sceat of honey ; and let the mass-priest at 
each of our meetings sing two masses, one for our liring friends, 
the other for the dead : and let each brother of common condition 
ang two psahers of psalms, one for the living and one for the 
dead ; and at the death of a brother, each man six masses, or six 
paakers of psalms ; and at a death, each man five pence ; and at 
a hoaseboniing each man one penny. And if any one neglect the 
day, for the first time three masses, for the second five, and at the 
third time let him hare no £iTonr, unless his neglect arose from 
lirlmeas or his loid^s need. And if any one neglect his subscrip- 
tion at the proper day let him pay double. And if any one of this 
brotheribood miagreel another, let him make boot with thirty 
pence. Now we pray for the lore of God that erery man hold 
this meeting ri^thr, as we rightly hftve agreed upon it. God 
help OS theremito." 


« In thb writ is the notification of the agreement whidi this hro- 
theihood hath made in the thanes' gild ^ Grantabrycg. That is 
first, that eadi gare oath upon the relics to the rest, that he would 
hold tme brotherlKMd for God and for the world, and aC the bro- 
therhood to siqiport him that hath the best ri^ht. If a;^y ^A- 
brother die, all the gildship b to bring him where he defired lo 
lie ; and let him that cometh not thereto pay a ie^er ^A Iwoer ; 
and let the gildfhip inherit of the dead half a farx, azyi each ^i- 
brother con tri b ute two pence to the ah&s, and oct rA this S3£ kc 
what is fitting be taken Vj ik. SA^.rf^. A^^iif any gm>>raher 
hare need of his Migprn^ aai, aul it be si^ie kiy/wn *f* tzie reeve 
the gild ^anle» the gild-brother hinueif ae w^; tcsd tae 

VOL. f . 2 L 


reere neglect it, let bim pay one pound ; if the lord neglect it, let 
him pay a pound, unless he be on his lord's need or confined to 
his bed. And if any one steal ^m a gild-brother, let there be no 
boot, but eight pounds. But if the outlaw neglect this boot, let 
all the gildship ayenge their comrade ; and let all bear it, if one 
misdo ; let all bear alike. And if any gildA)rother slay a man, 
and if he be a compelled arenger and compensate for his insult, 
and the slain man be a twelve-hundred man, let each gild- 
brother assist if the slain be a ceorl, two 

ores ; if he be a Welshman, one ore. But if the gild-brother 
with folly and deceit slay a man, let him bear his own deed ; and 
if a comrade slay another comrade through his own folly, let him 
bear his breach as regards the reladTes of the slain ; and let him 
buy back his brotherhood in the gild with eight pounds, or lose 
for ever our brotherhood and Mendship. And if a gild-brotha 
eat or drink with him that slew his comrade, save in the presence 
of the king, the bishop or the ealdorman, let him pay a pound, un- 
less he can dear himself with two of his dependents, of any know- 
ledge of the fact. If any comrade misgreet another, let him pay 
a sester of honey, except he can clear himself with his two de- 
pendents. If a servant draw a weapon, let his lord pay a pound, 
and recover what he can from the servant, and let all the company 
aid him to recover his money. And if a servant wound another, 
let the lord avenge it, and the company, so that seek what he may 
seek, he shall not have his life. And if a servant sit within the 
spence, let him pay a sester of honey, and if any one hath a foot- 
sitter let him do the same. And if any gild-brother die or lie 
sick out of the country, let his gild-brethren fetch him alive or 
dead, to the place where he desired to lie, under the same penalty 
as we have before said, in case of a comrade's dying at home, and 
a gild-brother neglecting to attend the corpse." 

The following document, which seems justly referable to the 
reign of EMgar, that is to the close of the tenth century, gives 
the regulations under which the Hundred was constituted'. 

* Thorpe, i. 258, etc. 


'^ Hub 18 the Ordinanoe how the Hundred shaU be held. 

'* First that they meet erery foar weeks, and that each man do 
right to other. 

** That a thief be pursued, if necessary. If there be present need, 
let it be told the hundredman, and let him afterwards make it 
known to the tithingmen, and let them all go forth whither Grod 
may direct them to their end : let them do justice on the thief aa 
it was formerly E^Ldmund's law. And be the eeApgild paid to 
him that owns the chattel ; and be the rest divided in two, half to 
the hundred, half to the lord, except men ; and let the lord take 
poasessitHi of the men. 

''And if any man n^^ect this, and deny the judgement of the 
hundred, and the same be afterwards proved against him, let him 
pay to the hundred thirty pence ; and the second time, sixty 
pence ; half to the hundred, half to the lord. If he do it a third 
time, let him pay half a pound : the fourth time, let him lose all 
that he hath, and be an outlaw, unless the king wiU allow him to 
remain in the land. 

"And we have ordained respecting unknown cattle, that no man 
should have it without the witness of the hundredman or the 
tithingman ; and that he be a well trusty man ; and unless he 
have one or other of these, let no vouching to warranty be aUow- 

"We have also ordained, that, if the hundred pursue a track 
into another hundred, notice be given to the hundredman, and 
that he then go with them. If he ne^ect this, let him pinr thirty 
shillings to the king. 

" Ifany one flindi from justice and eaeq>e,let him that had him 
in custody pay the amgild. And if he be accused i^ having aided 
the esoqie, let him clear himsdf according to the custom of the 

" In the hundred as in every other gem6t, we ordain that folk- 
rig^t be proBOuneed in every suit, and that a term be appamud 

> CoB|Mve Ae tetlMr prvviMW or E^ds^ft kw. S«pp. II. S ^ 7. 9. 9. 
10,11. Thorfc i. 274, 27C. 



when it shall be flilfilled. And if any one break that tenn, im- 
kia it be through the lord's decree^ let him make amends with 
thirty shillings, and on a set day Iblfil that whieh he shoold have 
done befixe. 

" An oies beDy and a dog^s ooDar, and a blast horn, each of these 
three shall be worth a Aillmgi and each is reckoned mm utfhrmer. 

*' Let the iron ibr the threefidd ordeal wei§^ three poonds ; snd 
finr the sin^ one pound/' 




The following documents throw light upon the nature of Lden- 
land, and the conditicHis under which it was held. The first is a 
detailed accoont giren by Oswald, bishop €^ Worcester, to king 
lE£dg£T, cf the plan which he adopted in leasing the lands €^ his 
church : it is reprinted here from the sixth rolume cf the Codex 
IKplomaticus, No. 1287. The second is a statement of the waj 
in which an estate of six ploughlands at Woukfliam in Kent be- 
came the propertT of the Cathedral at Boefaester: it is No. 1288 
in the same collectioa. 

'* Domino meokarissimofcgiAngiomm Eadgafo,egoOsaoa]diis 
Uuigomensb aecclesi a e episeopos ommnm quae mifai per ipsins de- 
mentiam mnnerum tradita sunt, apod deum et apod bominca grm- 
tias ago. Igitur si dei miserieordia w ip pe dit et, coram deo et homi- 
nibus perpetuahter ei fidetis permaoebo, mninisoetts cam giatiafim 
actione largiflnae beffrignitari^ eins, quia per meof Ufaid qood 
nopere expetebam mihi concesst intennmtiM, id est 
mum Dnnstannm archieptscopom ec Tenerandam JEMaaMnm 
UuiBtomae epocopum et iirum inagnificum BrflttDo^iuB coniiteB, 
quorum leg ati oD e et adzutorio mttm et tanrtae dex irrrirwae tfmt- 
relam sasttpit, ec seeondnm cfMuiBam sapieiKmi ec priflc^puBSi 
suorum iosu emeadarit, ad coiteDtameD jfrririiae qnaai anba 
benigpe et Kbens regWMJam comrniiit. Qnafe quoBodo fidoa sdi 
subditos teJtanhoa qvae meae trmHue suae pMcaCaci per 
temporis tnam boouBBizR, id mC diMms pMC «e 

cam wasi figiasm ipfb imumhma ec 
pBsa seentM ec 


bus meifl successoribus, scilicet episcopis, per cyrograpbi coutionem 
apertius enuclearem, ut sdant quid ab eis extorquere iuste debeant 
secundum conventionem cum eis factam et sponsionem suam ; unde 
et banc epistolam ob cautelae causam componere studui, ne quis 
malignae cupiditatis instinctu boc sequend tempore mutare Tolexis 
abiurare a sendtio aecclesiae queat. Haec itaque conrentio com 
eis facta est ipso domino meo rege annuente et sua attesta- 
tione munificentiae suae largitatem roborante et confirmante, om- 
nibusque ipsius regiminis sapientibus et principibus attestantibus 
et consentientibus. Hoc pacto eis terras sanctae aecclesiae sub 
me tenere concessi, boc est ut omnis equitandi lex ab eis impleatur 
quae ad equites pertinet, et ut pleniter persolvant omnia quae ad 
ius ipsius aecclesiae iuste competunt, scilicet ea quae Ang^oe 
dicuntur dricsceatt et toll id est tbelon. et tacc. id est swinsceade 
et caetera iura aecclesiae, nisi episcopus quid alicui eorum perdo- 
nare voluerit, seseqne quamdiu ipsius terras tenent in mandatii 
pontificis humiliter cum omni subiectione perseverare etiam iure- 
iurando affirment. Super baec etiam ad omnis industriae episcopi 
indigentiam semetipsos praesto impendant, equos praestent, ipsi 
equitent, et ad totum piramiticum opus aecclesiae calcis atque ad 
pontis aedificium ultro inveniantur parati, sed et venationis sepem 
domiui episcopi ultronei ad aedificandum reperiantur, suaque quan- 
documque domino episcopo libuerit venabula destinent venatnm ; 
insuper ad multas alias indigentiae causas quibus opus est domino 
autistiti sepe frunisci, sive ad suum servitium sive ad regale ex- 
plendum, semper illius archiductoris dominatui et voluntati qui 
episcopatui praesidet, propter beneficium quod illis praestitum est, 
cum omni bumilitate et subiectione subditi fiant, secundum ipsius 
Toluntatem et terranmi quas quisque possidet quantitatem. De- 
curso autem praefati temporis curriculo, videlicet duorum post eos 
qui eas modo possident haeredum vitae spatio, in ipsius antistitis, 
sit arbitrio quid inde velit, et quomodo sui velle sit inde ita stet, 
sive ad suum opus eas retinere, si sic sibi utile iudicaverit, sive eas 
alicui diutius praestare, si sic sibi placuerit, velut ita dumtaxat ut 
semper aecclesiae servitia pleniter ut praefati sumus inde per- 
soh-antur; ast si quid praefatorum delicti praevaricantis causa 


f deruprit turum, praeyaricattonia delictum secundum quod praesulis 
ius est emendet, aut illo quod aiilea potitus eat dono et terra careat. 
Si (juis vero diabolo instigante, quod minime optamus, estiterit 
qui per nostrum beneficium aeccleaiam dei ftaude, seu in ana pos- 
BCssioiie aut servitio debito privare temptaverit, ipse n 
que benedictione dei et sanctorum eJua privetur, aisi profundissima 
emendatione illud coirigcre studeat et ad pristiuum statiim quod de- 
fraudavit rcdigat, scriptum est enim 'Raptores ct sacrilegi regoum 
dei non consequentur.' Nunc autem propter deum et sanctam 
MHriam, in cuius nomiae hoc monasteriuin dicatum est, n 
praecipio, ut nullo modo quia hoc praevaricare audeat, Bed ai 
nobis statutum est, ut praefati sumua, perpetualiter maueat. Qui 
custodierit omni benedictione repleaiur ; qui vcro infringerit male- 
dicetur a domino Ct ab omnibua sauctis. Amen. Gratanter, reve- 
reDtisaimedominc,quo tautitt tuaedouia clcmciitiae,Becundum quod 
totius creatoria cosmi est velle, pracditus sum, mcae operom voluO' 
tatia, ut pro tc tuisque dcuni iugiter LnterpcUem devotus impen- 
dam, raeosque successorcs ad hoc hortari studcbo, ut domiui mixe* 
ricordiam pro te deprecari nou desinant, ut Chriatus pace qui per- 
heuui r^nat ethrali in arce te consortio dignum haberi digtietur 
Banctorum omiiiiun in aula coeleati, Valeat in aevum qui hoc stu- 
duerit sen-arc dccretum. Ilarum textua .... epiatolarum tres 
HUnt ad praetitulationem et ad signuni, una in ipsa civitate quae 
vocatur Uuigraceaater, altera cum venerabili Dunstano archiepi- 
(tcopo in Cantuaria, terlia cum -ilSeluuoldo episcopo in UulutoniK 

"jE5elbryhtoinchitgeb(5code " KiJig ^6clberht granted it 

lam apostole on ice yrfe, and by his charter for ever to the 

beUehte hit Bilm hiscope EAr- apostle, and gave it in chat^ 

dulfe t6 hewitenne and his tef- to bishop Eardwulf and hia suc- 

ter^iencan. £>^ betneonan Sim cessors. Howercr in process of 

weartS hit Ate, and htefdon hit lirae it became alienated, and 

cynegas 08 Eadmund cine; 6d the kings had it down to E^d- 


gAoku^JEtht^ HnflntAi 

JEtMk bis 
lub Trfewrd; am! Itaet be 
\tmt OP babe tnngnn, and oltemb 
.Sfrice bit br^to- famdn nd 
Kbu, bdian be bwvt aet bim 
gcamode. IM for Ifaere brotor- 
sbbe gedSe be bim EarbiScs 

and Waldabames bis daeg. f)£ 
oferbad .fifeb bis brdSor and 
fong t4S bis bine: «a bjefde.£lfnc 

SUDA Eadric hitte and .£lfeh 
naenne. Da ged^ -Elfeh f^am 
Eadnce Earhi5es and Craegan 
and Wuldahames, and hsefde 
him ?ylf .^nesford. Da gewat 
E^nc ser .-Elfeh cwideleas, and 
^liehfengtohislaene. Dahaefde 
Eadnc life and nan beam ; da 
geu?^e ^Elfeh hire hire morgen- 
gife aet Craegan ; and st6d EarhiC 
and W'uldaham and Lvtlanbr6c 
on his Isene. DA him eft geSiihte, 
i^A nam he his feonne on Wul- 
dahim and on ?Sam 6?5ran wolde, 
achinegeyflade,and he fta saende 
t<5 ^am arcebisceope Diinstane, 

; dMB .afirtin SOD d 
HcabitaB boi^ it of tbe kk^ 
war a bnuuicd. and twcotj man' 
of gold aad tbirtj popunds, 
.£lfbeab bis soo gare bim 
nearij all tbe money. After 
)da^ E^dmmid, king E^Ubed 
booked il to Mihkin as an in- 
berkanee for erer: now after 
^l&tan's daT, iElfbeA bis son 
was bis beir, and tbat be prored 
wicb a wbole tongue, and de- 
prived JEtbic bis brotber both 
of bmd and chattels, but what 
be ndgbt desenre at bis bands. 
Now for brotberir lore be grant- 
ed bim Eritb, Cray, JSnesford 
and Wooldbam, for bis life. 
Then .£lfbeab survive d bis bro- 
ther, and re-entered on his Is^n : 
bat .Eliric had a son called 
Eadric, and .Elfheah had none. 
Then ^Elfheah granted Eadnc, 
Erith, Crav and Wouldham, 
and kept iEnesford for himself. 
Now Eadric died before iElf- 
heah without making a will, 
and ^Elfheah re-entered on his 
Isen. Eadnc had a widow but 
no child ; then iElf he^ granted 
her her moming-ffift, at Cray ; 
and Erith, Wouldham and Lit- 
tlebrook stood on his Isen. When 
he bethought him, he took his 
feorm at Wouldham, and meant 



and he c6m t6 Scylfe t6 him : 
and he cwaetJ his cwide heforan 
him, and he ssette senne cwide 
t(5 Cristes cvrican, and d^eme t6 
sancte Andrea, and Sane )>riddan 
sealde his Idfe. Di braec s^SSan 
Leofsmiu |>urh test wif t$e he 
nam, E^rices Ufe, tone cwide, 
and herewade Sses arccbiscopes 
gewitnesse, rad €a innon t5a land 
mid Sam wife butan witena 
d6me. Da man Sset Sdm biscope 
ciSde, S^ gelsedde se biscop 
dhnunga ealles Mif^es cwides 
1(5 EdrhiSe, on gewitnesse i£lf- 
stiuies biscopes on Lundene, 
and ealles Sees hiredes, and Sses 
set Cristes cvrican, and Sses bi- 
scopes ^Ifst^es an Hrofece- 
astre, and Wulfsies pre6stes Sees 
scirigmannes, and Bryhtwaldes 
on MsereweorSe, and ealra East 
Cantwareua and West Cantwa- 
rena. And hit wees gecnsewe on 
SdS-Sedxan and on West-Serbian 
and on Middel-Se^Lxan and on 
Est-Seaxan, Sset se arcebisceop 
mid his selfes aSege^hnodeGode 
and sancte Andrea mid Sdm IxS- 
can on Cristes hr6de, Sa land Se 
Ledfsmiu him t<Steah. And Ssene 
Ah nam Wulfsige se scirigman, 
S^ he nolde t<5 Sees cinges handa : 
and Saere wses God e^ ten 
hundan mannan Se Sane iS 

so to do at the other places, but 
he fell ill, and sent to arch- 
bishop Dtinstdn, and he came 
to hun at Scylf : and i£lfhe^ 
declared his will before him, 
and he deposited one will at 
Christchurch, another at St. 
Andrews, and the third copy he 
gave his widow. But afterwards 
Leofsunu broke through the 
will, through the wife he mar- 
ried, namely Eddrfc's widow, 
and set at nought the arch- 
bishop's testimony, and rode in 
upon the land with the woman, 
without any judgement of the 
witan. Now when this was re- 
ported to the bishop, he took 
all the claims of ownership un- 
der ^Ifhe^'s will, to Erith, m 
witness of .£lfstibi bishop of 
London, and all the convent, 
and that at Christchurch, and 
iElfstim bishop of Rochester, 
and Wulfsige the priest who 
was sheriff, and Bryhtwald of 
Mereworth, and all the men of 
East Kent and of West Kent. 
And it was well known in Sus- 
sex and Wessex, and Middlesex 
and Essex, that the archbishop 
with his own oath upon the 
cross of Christ, recovered the 
land which Leofsunu had in- 
vaded, together with the books, 
for God and St. Andrew. And 



Rubric. Ddfl wi§nm 9tL seoz 
salung aet Wtildahibi sancte 
Andrea geseald mt6 Hrofe- 

Wnlfs^e the shariff receiredtlie 
oath, since he woold not go to 
the king^s hand : and there was 
a good addition of a thoosand 
men who gare the oath. 

Bmbrie. Thus were the six 
ploni^ilands at Wooldham giren 
to St. Andrew at Bochester." 




The following passages of the Anglosaxon Laws contain general 
enactments against heathen pnurtices, or references to heathen 

" Gif ceorl biiton wifes wiad6me de6flum gelde, he sie ealra his 
cehta scyldig, and healsfange. Gif butwn de^flom geldaS, sion 
h^ healsfange scrldige, 3 eahra a^ta.''— X/. JFihtr. f 12. Thorpe, 
i. 40. 


if pe6w de6flum gcldaS .vL sdll. geb&e, c^iSe his h^d." — 
LI. Wihtr. ^ 13. Thorpe, L 40. 

** Gif hwi CristendfSm wyrde, oS9e ha^Send^ weorf^ige, wordes 
0$^ weorces, gylde wmk wer twk wite, twk lahsKtf, be tMon t$e sed 
dxd fiyr—E6dw. GiA. f 2. TJu^rpe, i. 168. 

" Gif wiccan o80e wigleras, mdhisworan o80e morSwjrhtan, o08e 
fule, aff lede a^baere horcwenan ^Uiwar on lande wurSan igjtene, 
t(onne f^sie Yd man of earde 'y da^oaie fte K^ide, o58e on earde 
for&re hf mid ealle, bdton h( geswican "} t$e detfppor geb^an.'' — 
E6dw. GiA. f 11. Tki^rpe, L 1/2. 

" Ond we ewa&ion be Mm wiccccrg ft am, -y be fibUcnm, 3 be 
morSdapdnm, gif man Mx icweald wa^re, ^3 he his gtsacan ne 
mihte, 5set he be<S his feores scjldig.'* — JEMsi. i. f 6. Tlof^pr, 
i. 202. 

"Da 9e minsweriaft ;} Ijblic wjicaft, %fu hi a fram aScufli 
Godes dxle iLworpene, bdtoo hj to rihtre daedbdce gecrrran.*' — 
E6dM. i. S ^' Thorpe, i. 246. 


" And gif wiccan o5Se wigleras, sciucnefligan ot$5e horcwenan, 
morSwyrhtan o68e miasworan ^war on earde wuHSan igitene, 
ff se h( man geome dt of Sjrsan earde 3 claensige €£s pe6de, o6l$e 
on earde forfare hi mid ealle, bdtan hi geswican 3 tSe dedppor ge- 
bAan "—jEMr. vi. § 7. Thorpe, i. 316. Citw^, ii. § 4. 2%oiye, 
i. 378. 

"And we forbe6da$ eomostlice s^lcne hsl6enscipe. HaetSen- 
adpe bi6 Siet man idok weorSige, tSset is tsdt man weorSige hsS- 
ISene godas '} sunnan oSSe mdnan, f^ o55e fl6d, wseterwyUas (AStSe 
sUnas o56e sSniges cynnes wudutredwa, o66e wiccecneft lufige, 
oStSe mor6werc gefrenmie, on s^nige wisan, o9t$e on bl6te, otStSe on 
fyrhte, oS5e on swylcra gedwimera senig )>ing dredge." — Cnut, ii. 
§ 5. 7:1017}^ i. 378. 

" Si quis Teneno, vel sortil^o, rel invultnacione, sen maleficio 
aliquo, fadat homicidium, sive illi paratum sit, sive alii, nihil 
refert, qnin factum mortiferum et nullo modo redimendum sit." — 
Li. Hen. I. hod. § 1. 

The well- and tree-worship noticed in these laws continued to 
be retained, though in a somewliat altered form, until a very late 
period ; and especially it was usual to perform religious ceremo- 
nies at the salt-springs, spots always looked upon as holy'. 

The confessional however was more likely to be in the secret of 
the popular heathendom than the civil legislator. Accordingly 
the Poenitentials supply us with a variety of information upon this 
subject. The Poenitential of Theodor has a long chapter devoted 
to the heathen practices of commmiicants, and their appropriate 

** xxvii. De Idolatria et Sacrilegio, et qui Angelos colunt, et 
maleficos, Ariolos, Veneficos, Sortilegos, Divinos, et vota reddentes 
nisi ad aecclesiam Dei, et in Kalendas Januarii in cervulo et in 
^-itula vadit, et Mathematicos, et Emissores tempestatnm." 

' Thorns, Anecd. and Traditions, p. 93. The holy character of the salt- 
springs is noticed by Tacitus. 


The points principally noted here are, sacrificing to daemons, that 
is, the ancient gods; eating and drinking near heathen temples,/ana, 
in honour of the god of the place ; or eating what has been sacrificed 
to daemons ; or celebrating festal meals in the abominable places 
of the heathen ' ; seeking auguries by the flight of birds, making 
philacteries or philtres. Other forms may be gathered from the 
following heads: — 

Si quis maleficio suo aliquem perdiderit vii. annos poeniteat. 
Si quis pro amore veneficus sit et neminem perdiderit, etc. Si 
antem per hoc mulieris partum quis deceperit, etc. Si quis ari- 
olos quaerit, quos diyinos vocant, yel aliquas divinationes fecerit, 
quia et hoc daemoniacum est, etc. Si quis sortes habuerit, quas 
Sanctorum contra rationem vocant, vel aliquas sortes habuerit, 
Tel qualicunque malo ingenio sortitus fuerit, vel divinaverit, etc. 
Si qua mulier divinationes vel incantationes diabolicas fecerit, etc. 
Si qua mulier filium suum vel filiam super tectum pro sanitate po- 
suerit, vel in fomace, etc. Qui grana arserit ubi mortuus est homo, 
pro sanitate viventium et domus, etc. Si quis, pro sanitate filioli, 
per foramen terrae exierit, illudque spinis post se concludit, etc. 
Si quis ad arbores, vel ad fontes, vel ad lapides, sive ad cancellos, 
vel ubicunque, excepto in aecclesia Dei, votum voverit aut exsol- 
verit, etc., et hoc sacril^um est vel daemoniacum. Qui vero 
ibidem ederit aut biberit, etc. Si quis in Kalendas Januarii in cer- 
vulo aut vetula vadit, id est, in ferarum habitus se communicant*, 
et vestiuntur peUibus pecudum, et assumunt capita bestiarum ; qui 
vero taliter in ferinas species se transformant, etc., quia hoc daemo- 
niacum est. Si quis mathematicns est, id est, per invocationem 
daemonum hominis mentem converterit, etc. Si quis emissor tem- 
pestatis fuerit, id est, maleficus, etc. Si quis ligatnras fecerit, quod 
detestabile est, etc. Qui auguria vel divinationes in consuetudine 
habuerit, etc. Qui observat divines, vel praecantatores, philacteria 
etiam diabolica, et somnia vel herbas, ant quintam feriam honore 
Jovis, vel Kalendas Jannarii, more paganomm, honorat, etc. Qui 

* Bcfer to GffCfory't letter, cited tt p. 332 of tlm ? oliiac 
> Probobl7'«co«Diit«Bt.'' 


student exercere quando luna obecormtur, ut damoiibos suis ac 
iiudeficiiB sacril^o usa earn defendere oonfidant, etc. Qui in lio- 
nore Innae pro aliqna sanitate ieiunat, etc. 

Other firagments of Theodor contain this additional proTision : — 

" Qui noctuma sacrificia daemonum celebraTerint, yel incanta- 
tionibus daemones inTocaTerint, capite puniantur." 

Archbishop Ecgberht has further details : he says > : — 

"Si quis daemonibus exigui quid immolayerit, annum unum 
ieiunet. Quicunque cibum daemonibus immolatum comederit, etc. 
Quicunque grana combusserit in loco ubi mortuus est homo, pro 
sanitate yirentium et domus, etc. Si mulier filiam suam super do- 
mum, yd in fomaoe posuerit, eo quod cam a febri sanare yelit," etc. 

The Saxon version in the MS. at Brussels, appHes this to other 
illness besides fever : " Gif hwylc wif sete6 hire beam ofer hrdf 
o5t$e on ofen, for hwylcere untrymiSe hsQo .vii. gear fiaeste." 

The same prelate in his Poenitential ordains': — 

" Gif aenig man 66eme mid wiccecrsefte fordo, fseste .vii. gear/* 


" Gif hwa drife stacan on senigne man, fseste .iii. gear, and gif 
se man for tJaere stacunge dead bitJ, tJonne fseste be .vii. gear, eal- 
swa hit her bufpon ilwriten is^." 

This " stacan drifan " or " stacung " is the invultuatio which 
has been explained in the text, and of which an example has been 

1 Ck)nfes8ionale, 32, 33 ; see also his Poenitentiaie, ii. 22, 23. Thorpe, ii. 
157, 190. 

* Poenit. iv. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. Thorpe, ii. 208, 210. 

' This is repeated in the same words in the collection called Canons enacted 
under king Eidgdr, in that portion entitled *' Modus imponendi poenitentiam." 
But as Dr. Kunstman, an authority of the highest character on this point, in- 
forms me, these Canons are founded upon and contain portions of the very an- 
cient Poenitential of Cummianus; and we may suppose Ecgberht to have 
adopted these passages from him. 



giren from a charter of Eidgir. Mr. Thorpe's expl&nation of 
Sucung is tts foUowB : — 

" Siacanif, a stickmg. The practice of sticking pins or needles 
into B waxetk image of the person agabst whom the wit<:hcraft 
was directed, consisted probably at first in sticking tliem sctndly 
mto the body of the indiyidual, ' gif hwi drife st^can on ^nigne 
man;' but as this process was no doubt aometimea attended with 
inconvenience and danger to the operator, the easier and safer 
method was devised of substituting a waxen proxy, instead of the 
true man. This practice was kuo^m under the name of dejixio, 
'quod eiuamodi incantorea acus aubinde dffigerent in images 
cereas, iis locis quibua viroa Ipsos pungere decrererant, qui punc- 
turas ipsaa, ac ai ipsi pungercntur persentiebant,' Du Cange. To 
it Ovid alludes : 

' Devovit abaentes, simulacraque cerea fingit, 
^L Et misemm tenues in iecur urget acus.' " 

Ecgberht thus continues respecting philtres and other magical 
practices : — 

"Gif hwa wiccige ymbe rfaiges mannes lufe, ~\ him on sete 
Bylle o65e on drince, ofii5e on leniges cyimes gealdorcrieftum, Stet 
hyra lufii forSon Be milre bedn acyle," etc.' 

" Gif hwd hlytas oS8e hwatunga begi, oKBe his wceccan set 
(fnigum wylle hrebbe, oSSe eet tfnigre dSre geaceafte biitau tet 
Godes cyricean, fECste he .iii. gear," etc. 

" Wifman bed Sees ylcan wyr8e, gif hed tilaS hire cilde mid 
rfnigmn wiccecrtefte, oi5He ret wegn gelieton 8urh *a eorJ5an tihB : 
eala Sfet is mycci hteSenacipe." 

The Canons enacted luder E^dgdr give the following fill] de- 
tails of popular lieathendom' : — ■ 

"And we enjoin, that every priest zealously promote Cbriatianity, 

' Repeated in neirly (he aanic words in (ho ' Modui imponendi poeniten- 
tiain,' \ 39. Thorpe, ii, 2?4. 

* Thorpe, ii. 249. " And we Ieetk^ fist preoata gehwilc criiteoddm geomliee 
!, 'j selcne hcf endiSm mid eaU« IdwEice, -] forbeode wilweorRuiigi -j 


and totally extinguish every heathenism ; and forbid well-worship- 
ings, and necromancies, and divinations, and enchantments, and 
man-worshipings, and the vain practices which are carried on 
with various spells, and with ' frithsplots,' and with elders, a«d 
also with various other trees, and with stones, and with many 
various delusions, with which men do much of what they should 

Many of these heathen practices still continue to subsist, at 
least in the memory and traditions of the peasantry in remote parts 
of England. Devonshire, for example, still offers an unexhausted 
field for the collector both of popular superstitions and popular 
tales, counterparts of which are current in Germany. The Anglo- 
saxon herbals Aimish various evidences of heathendom connected 
with plants, but I pass over these in order to give one or two de- 
tailed Saxon spells, which are of the utmost value, as bearing un- 
mistakeable marks of Anglosaxon paganism. The following spells 
are taken from a MS. in the Harleian collection. No. 585. 

1 . " Wit5 Cymel. Neogone walran NotSf aes sweoster, pA wurdon 
t5a nygone t6 viii. -} fa viii. t<5 vii. -} fa vii. t<5 vi. -) fa vi. id v. ^ 
fa V. t6 iiii. j fa iiii. td iii. j fa iii. td ii. j fa ii. t6 i. "3 fa i. t6 
nanum. fis fe libbe cymneles 3 scrofelles 3 weormes j aeghwylces 
yfeles. Sing benedicite nygon sifum'.'* 

2. " Se wifman se hire cild afedan ne maeg, gange id gewitenes 
mannes birgenue 3 stfeppe Sonne f riwa ofer 5a byrgemie, j cwe5e 
Conne f riwa 5as word : Dis me t6 bote tJsere lat^an laetbyrde : Dis 

UcwigluDga '^ hwata "j galdra ^ manweorSunga ^ "Sa gemearh "Se man dnfC 
on mislicum gewiglungum, i on fri^splottura, 'j on ellenum, *j eac on 6'5rum 
mislicum tre6wum, 'j on stanum, 'j on manegum mislicum gedwimerum iSe 
mon ondre6ga'S fela "Saes ISe hi na ne acoldon." 

A various reading adds : — " treowwurSunga 'j stanwurSunga *j tSone de6flei 
cneft "Sae'r man "Sa cild furh "Sa eorSan tih"5, *j "Sa gemear "Se man diih^ on 
geares niht :" — *• tree-worsbipings and stone-worshipings, and that devil's crafty 
whereby children are drawn through the earth, and the vain practices which 
are carried on on the night of the year." The firiiStfpiot was a pat<;h or plot 
of ground sanctified, ffe/riiSod, by some heathen ceremony, a kind of Taboo. 

* MS. Hari. 585. fol. 193. 


me t6 h6te ISaere swseran swsertbyrde : Dis me t6 h6te t^re USan 
lambyrde. And ^nne Cset wff se6 mid beame, ;) he<5 t6 hire 
hMforde on reste gd, tSonne cwelSe he<5 : 

" Up ic gonge, 
ofer 8e stceppe, 
mid cwican cilde, 
nalses mid cwellendum, 
mid fiilborenum, 
nalses mid fie^gan. 

And tSonne se<S moder geMe Sset tsdt beam si cwic, gd tSonne t6 
cyrican, ;) tSonne he6 tcSforan Can weofode cume, cwelSe tSonne, 

" Criste ic saede 
Sis gec^lSed.** 

3. '*Se wifman se hyre beam if(^dan ne msege, genime he6 sjlf 
hjre ^nes cildes gebyrgenne ds^l, frf sefter ^n or bldce wulle, 
3 bebicge t6 c^pemannum, "] cweSe Sonne : 

*' Ic hit bebicge 
ge hit bebicgan, 
t&& sweartan wulle 
and Sisse sorge com." 

4. *' Se [wifjman seSe [ne] meege beam dfedan, nime Sonne ^es 
ble<$s cilmeoluc on hyre handa, ;) gestipe Sonne mid hjre mdSe, -} 
gange Sonne t6 ymendum wsetere, ;) spfwe Sserin Sa meolc, '} hldde 
Sonne mid Ss^re ylcan hand Sees wseteres mtiSfiilne 3 forswelge. 
CweSe Sonne S^ word : Gehw^r ferde ic me Sone mseran maga- 
^tan, mid Sysse ms6ran meteyihtan, Sone ic me wille habban "y 
h£m g^. Donne he6 t6 Sdn br6ce ga, Somie besed he6 n<5, n^ 
eft Somie he6 Sanan g^ ;) Sonne gd he6 in <5Ser htis 6Ser he6 tit 
ofe6de, '} SaSr gebyrge metes ' ." 

5. '' Wis hors-oman -} mannes, sing Sis ])riwa nygan siSan on 
eefen ;) on morgen, on Sses mannes he^od dfan, *) horse on Saet 

> MS. HarL 585. fol. 196. 196 b. 
VOL. I. 2 M 


wynstre e^e, on ymendum waetere, *j wend ^aet he^od ongean 
stre^. In domo mamosin. in choma mesti. stimi mesti. quod 
dealde otuustiua el marethin. Crux mihi vita. e. tibi mors inimici. 
alfa et o initium et finis, dicit dominus'." 

6. " Wii$ Oman. Grenim ^e gr^ne gyrde, *] Iset sittau 5one man 
on middan huses fl6re, ;) bestric bine ymbiitan, ^ cwet$ : Opars et 
orelli Apars et pars iniopia. e. alfa et o. litium^/' 

7. " Gif wsennas eglian msen SRt tSs^re beortan, gange msedenman 
t6 wylle 9e ribt e^t jme, 3 geblade hie cuppan fulle forS mid 
Z&m streame, 3 singe ^seron Credo "} Paternoster, 3 ge6te ^nne 
on 6^er feet, ;) blade eft 6t5re, ^ singe eft Credo ;) Paternoster, "] 
d6 swd t$8et 9u bsebbe |>reo. Do swd njgon dagas : sona bim biS 

8. " WiC fserstice, Feferftdge, and se6 redde netele, ^ tJurb aem 
inwvx^, and wegbrsede : wylle in buteran. 

" Hldde ws^ron by \& bldde 
Sa hv ofer t5one hloew ridon ; 
wseron anmdde, ^A by 
ofer land ridon. 
Scvld 8d 6e, nil 5u t^isne 11 15 
genesan m6te. 
Ut lytel spere, 
gif ber inne sie ! 
St(5d under linde, 
under leohtiuu scylde, 
ftser ^a niibtigau wif 
hyra nisegen beraeddon, 
aud by gyllende 
garas sendou : 
ic bim 65eme 
eft wille seudau, 
fleogende tljln 

' MS. Harl. No. 585. fol. 197. « Ibid. fol. 197. 3 Ibid. fol. 200. 


forane to geanes. 
Ut lytel spere, 
gif hit her uiiie sy ! 
Saet smit$, sloh scax lytel, 
isenia wund swftJe. 
Ut Ijtel spere, 
gif her inne s^ ! 
Svx smit^as sceton, 
wselspera worhton ; 
lit spere^ nses inspere, 
gif her inne sy 
Isenes dsSl, 
haegtessan geweorc, 
hit sceal gemyltan : 
gif ^d wsere on fell scoteu, 
abiSe waere on flsesc scoteu, 
o$5e waere on bldd scoten, 
ot$5e wsere on lit5 scoten, 
nsefre ne s^ 91n lif dtaesed ; 
gif hit wsere ^agescot, 
ot5Se hit waere ylfa gescot, 
oSt$e hit wsere haegtessan gescot ; 
nu ic wille ^in helpan ! 
Dis ^e t6 bote ^ gescotes, 
^is t$e t<5 b6te ylfa gescotes, 
Sis t5e t6 b6te hsegtessan gescotes ! 
Ic tSin wille helpan. 
Fled ^s^r on fyrgen ! 
hedfde h^ westii ! 
Helpe ^in drihten ! 
Nim t5onne tSset seax, id6 on wsetere." 

9. ** Her is sed bdt, hd t5ii meaht 9ine seceras bdtan, gif hi nellaS 
wel wexan, ot3t$e t^ser hwilc ungedefe ]>ing ongeddn bit$, on drjr 
oSSe on libUce. 

"Geuini Sonne on niht, ser hit dagige, feower tyrf on fcowcr 
healfa Sacs landes, and gemcarca hu hi ser stddon. Nim Sonne 

2 M 2 


ele and hiinig and beorman, and selces feos meolc, ^ on t(a§in 
lande &{, and slices tredwcynnes dsel, te on t$s§m lande si gewexen, 
biitan heardan bdunan, and s^lcre namcd'Sre wjrte dsel, biitan 
glappan dnon : and d6 t$onne hdlig wseter tSseron, and drype tSonne 
])riwa on t$one statSol 94ra turfa, and cwetSe ISonne t$ds word; 
CrescitCy waxe, e^ multiplicamini, and gemsenigfealde, ^f replete, 
and gefylle, ^err^, t5ds eortSan, tn nomine patris etfilii et spiritus 
sancti, sit benedicti ; and pater noster^ swd oft swd tSset 6t$er : 
and bere siS^an tSa turf t6 cyrcean, and msessepreost ^inge feower 
meessan ofer iS&a turfon, and wende man iStdt gr^ne t6 t$dm weo- 
fode ; and sit$€an gebringe man t$a turf t$s6r hi sir wseron, air sun- 
nan setlgange; and hsebbe him geworht of cwicbeime feower 
Cristes mselo, and ^wrfte on silcon ende Matbeus and Marcus, 
Lucas and Johannes. Lege t$8et Cristes msil on tk)ne pyt neoSe- 
weardne; cwetJe ^onne: Cnix Mattheus, Crux Marcus^ Crux 
Lucas, Crux Scs Johannes, Nim tSonne t$a turf and sette 5air 
ufon on, and cwet$e ^onne nigon s(t$on iS&& word, Crescite, and swa 
oft Pater noster ; and wende t$e t^onne eastweard, and onldt nigon 
8it$on e^m(5dlice, and cwe^ ^ornie ^ds word : 

** eastweard ic staude, 
drena ic me bidde : 
bidde ic tioiie mseran dne, 
bidde 5one miclan drihten, 
bidde ic tSone haligan 
heofonrices weard : 
eor^an ic bidde 
and upheofon, 
and Sa soSan 
sancta Marian, 
and heofones mcaht 
and beahreced, 
^a?t ic mote (Sis gealdor, 
mid gife drihtnes, 
to^nm ontynan, 
ftnrli trumne gel^anc, 


^weccan 9iis wsestmas lis 

t6 woruldnytte, 

gefylle tSds foldan 

mid feeste geleifan, 

wlitigigan t&s wangcturf ; 

swd se witega cwse^, 

t$8et se hsefde dre on eortSan 

se t$e selm jssan 

dselde dcimlice, 

drihtnes J^ances. 

" Weude t$e tk)nne )>riwa sunganges, dstrecce [t5e] t$onne on and- 
lang, and drim t$s^r LetantaSy and cwet$ 9onne, Sanctus, sanctus, 
sanctus, ot$ ende. Sing ^onne Benedicite d)^nedon eannon, and 
Magnificat, and Pater noster, iii, and l)ebe<$d hit Criste and 
sancta Marian, and ^s^re halgan rdde, t6 lofe and t6 weor^inga, 
and t&m [td] are 9e ^set land dge, and eallon t$dm 6e him under-* 
)>eddde synt. 

''Donne tSset eall sie geddn, tSonne nime man uncdtS ssed set 
eelmesmannum, and gegaderie ealle his sulhgeteiSgo tdgsederc: 
borige Sonne on tSdm beame stdr and finol and gehdlgode sdpan, 
and gehdlgod sealt. Nim tSonne "Seet ssid, sete on tSees sules bodig. 
CweS ^nne : 

"Erce, Erce, Erce, 
eorSan mddor, 
geunne t$e se alwealda 
6ce drihten, 
secera wexendra 
and wridendra 
and ehiiendra : 
sceafla hen 
se scire wsestma, 
and t^sere brddan 
here weestma. 


aiid t$8ere hwitaii 

hwsete weestma, 

and ealra 

corSan waestma, 

Geunne him 

cce drihten, 

and his hdlige te 

on heofenum sint, 

tSaet t5b jr6 si gefritk)d wit5 ealra 

fednda gehwsenc, 

and he6 si geborgen wi^ eahtt 

bealwa gehuylc, 

tan, lyblaca 

geond land sdwen. 

Nd ic bidde t$one waldend 

se"8e tids weoruld gescedp, 

t$8et ne si n^ t6 ^ses cwidol wif, 

ne td ^ees cneflig man, 

tJaet awendan ne msege 

worud tSiis gecwedene. 

** Donne man ^a, sulh fortidrife and Sa forman furh onscedte, 
cvveft (Sonne : 

** Hal vves 6ii, Folde, 
fira m()dor ! 
beo Sii growende 
on Godes fsetSme, 
fodre gcfylled, 
firum to nytte ! 
" Nini Sonne selccs onmes nielo, and abace man innewerdne 
liftudii brudnc hhif, and gccned hine mid meolce and mid hailig- 
waetere, and lecgc nnder ^a forman fnrh. Cwetie ftonnc ; 

*' Ful secer fodres 
fira cinnc 
bcorht blowcndc, 
(Si'i goblt'tsod weorft 


i$8es h^igan nomau 

t$e t$as heofon gescedp, 

and tAs corSan 

t$e we on lifiat^. 

Se god se t$as gnindas geworhtc, 

geunne lis grdwende gife, 

tSset lis coma gehwylc 

Clime t6 nytte. 

" Cwe8 tJonne f riwa Crescite in nomine Patris sit benedict i. 
Amen : and Pater noster friwa." 


Printed by R. and J. E. Tftylor, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street.