Anglo-Saxons & Vikings – 4d Anglo-Saxon Justice

Anglo Saxon Laws and Justice

The Anglo-Saxons had brutal corporal and capital punishments at their disposal, including ‘the ordeal’ and grisly mutilations.  Like many traditional societies, the Anglo-Saxons placed a high value on a person’s word, their sworn promise.

At the heart of the tenth-century state was the oath, taken by all freemen from the age of 12, to promise not to commit any major crime. This common oath enshrined the sense of social community and responsibility that underpinned the law. In this light, theft was seen as an act of disloyalty. If you had broken your oath and committed a serious crime your entire family could be punished.

Trial by ordeal

Trial by Ordeal was a way to decide if someone is guilty or innocent of a crime. This was usually done by causing the accused person to do a task that was painful. If that task was completed without injury or if the injuries healed fast, this was usually taken as a sign of God, which meant that the accused was innocent.

People believed that God would not allow the innocent to be harmed. He would therefore help them by doing a miracle. is magical rather than invocation of a deity’s justice.

Follow these hyperlinks to learn more:-

  1. BBC Primary History
  2. Anglo-Saxon Law

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