The Dooms of Alfred,
Guthrum, and Edward the Elder
These are the dooms which King
Alfred and King Guthrum chose. And this is the ordinance also which King Alfred
and King Guthrum, and afterwards King Edward and King Guthrum, chose and
ordained, when the English and Danes fully took to peace and to friendship; and
the witan also, who were afterwards, oft and unseldom that same renewed and
increased with good.
This is the first which they
ordained: that they would love one God, and zealously renounce every kind of
heathendom. And they established worldly rules also for these reasons, that
they knew that else they might not many control, nor would many men else submit
to divine bot as they should: and the worldly bot they established in common to
Christ and the king, wheresoever a man would not lawfully submit to divine bot,
by direction of the bishops.
And this then
is the first which they ordained: that church-grith within the walls,
and the king's hand-grith, stand equally inviolate.
If any one
violate Christianity, or reverence heathenism, by word or by work, let him pay
as well wer, as wite or lah-slit, according as the deed may be.
And if a man
in orders steal, or fight, or forswear, or fornicate, let him make bot for it
according as the deed may be, as well by wer, as by wite or by lah-slit; and,
above all things, make bot before God as the canon teaches, and find borh
thereof, or yield to prison. And if a mass-priest misdirect the people about a
festival or about a fast, let him pay thirty shillings among the English, and
among the Danes three half-marks. If a priest fetch not the chrism at the right
term, or refuse baptism to him who has need thereof, let him pay wite among the
English, and among the Danes lah-slit; that is, twelve ores.
incestuous persons, the witan have ordained that the king shall have the upper,
and the bishop the nether, unless bot be made before God and before the world,
according as the deed may be; so as the bishop may teach. If two brothers or
near kinsmen commit fornication with the same woman, let them make bot very
strictly, in such wise as it may be allowed, as well by wer, as by wite or by
lah-slit, according as the deed may be. If a man in orders fordo himself with
capital crime, let him be seized and held to the bishop's doom.
If a man
guilty of death desire confession, let it never be denied him. And all God's
dues let every one zealously further, by God's mercy, and by the wites which
the witan have annexed thereto.
If any one
withhold tithes, let him pay lah-slit among the Danes, wite among the English.
If any one withhold Rom-feoh, let him pay lah-slit among the Danes, wite
among the English. If any one discharge not light-scot, let him pay lah-slit among the Danes, wite among the English. If any one give not
plough-alms, let him pay lah-slit among the Danes, wite among the English. If
any one deny any divine dues, let him pay lah-slit among the Danes, wite among
the English. As if he fight and wound any one, let him be liable in his wer. If
he fell a man to death, let him then be an outlaw, and let every one of those
seize him with hearm who desire right. And if he so do that any one kill
him, for that he resisted God's law or the kings, if that be proved true, let
him lie uncompensated.
If any one engage in
Sunday marketing, let him forfeit the chattel, and twelve ores among the Danes,
and thirty shillings among the English. If a freeman work on a festival-day,
let him forfeit his freedom, or pay wite or lah-slit. Let a theow-man suffer in
his hide or hide-gild. If a lord oblige his theow to work on a festival-day,
let him pay lah-slit within the Danish law, and wite among the English.
If a freeman break a
lawful feast, let him pay wite or lahslit. If a theowman do so, let him suffer
in his hide or hide-gild.
Ordeal and oaths are
forbidden on festival-days and lawful fast-days; and he who shall break that,
let him pay lah-slit among the Danes, and wite among the English. If it can be
so ordered, no one condemned should ever be executed on the Sunday festival,
but be secured and held till the festival be gone by.
limb-maimed man who has been condemned or forsaken, and he after that live
three days then any one who is willing to take care of sore and soul may help
him, with the bishop's leave.
If witches or
diviners, perjurers or morth-workers, or foul, defiled, notorious adulteresses,
be found anywhere within the land; let them be driven from the country, and the
people cleansed, or let them totally perish within the country, unless they
desist, and the more deeply make bot.
If any one wrong an
ecclesiastic or a foreigner, through any means, as to money or as to life, then
shall the king or the eorl there in the land, and the bishop of the people, be
unto him in the place of a kinsman and of a protector, unless he have another;
and let bot be strictly made, according as the deed may be, to Christ and to
the king, as it is fitting; or let him avenge the deeds very deeply who is king
among the people.
A twelve-hynde man's
wer is twelve hundred shillings. A two-hynde man's wer is two hundred
shillings. If any one be slain, let him be paid for according to his birth. And
it is right that the slayer, after he has given wed for the wer, find, in
addition, wer-borh according as shall thereto belong; that is, to a
twelve-hynde's wer-borh, eight of the paternal kins and four of the maternal
kin. When that is done, then let the king's mund be established, that
is, that they all of either kindred, with their hands in common upon one
weapon, engage to the mediator that the king's mund shall stand. In twenty-one
days from that day let 120 shillings be paid as heals-fang at a twelve-hynde's
wer. Heals-fang belongs to no kinsman, except to those who are
within the degrees of blood. In twenty-one days from that day that the
heals-fang is paid, let the manbot be paid; in twenty-one days from this, the
fight-wite; in twenty-one days from this, the frum-gyld of the wer; and
so forth, till it be fully paid, within the time that the witan have appointed.
After this they must depart with love, if they desire to have full friendship.
All men shall do with regard to the wer of a ceorl that which belongs to his
condition, like as we have said about a twelve-hynde man.
Thus shall a man
swear fealty oaths.
By the Lord, before
whom this relic is holy, I will be to ____ faithful and true, and love all that
he loves, and shun all that he shuns, according to God's law, and according to
the world s principles, and never, by will nor by force, by word nor by work,
do ought of what is loathful to him; on condition that he keep me as I am
willing to deserve, and all that fulfil that our agreement was, when I to him
submitted and chose his will.
Thus shall a man swear
when he has discovered his property and brings it in process.
By the Lord, before
whom this relic is holy, so I my suit prosecute with full folk-right, without
fraud and without deceit, and without any guile, as was stolen from me the
cattle ____ that I claim, and that I have attached with ____.
The other's oath with
whom a man discovers his cattle.
By the Lord, I was not
at rede nor at deed, neither counsellor nor doer, where were unlawfully led
away _____'s cattle. But as I cattle have, so did I lawfully obtain it. And: as
I vouch it to warranty, so did he sell it to me into whose hand I now set it.
And: as I cattle have, so did it come to my own property and so it by
folk-right my own possession is, and my rearing.
The oath of him who
discovers his property that he does it not either for hatred or for envy.
By the Lord, I accuse
not ____ either for hatred or for envy, or for unlawful lust of gain; nor know
I anything soother; but as my informant to me said, and I myself in sooth
believe, that he was the thief of my property.
The other's oath that
he is guiltless.
By the Lord, I am
guiltless, both in deed and counsel, and of the charge of which ____ accuses
His companion's oath
who stands with him.
By the Lord, the oath
is clean and unperjured which ____ has sworn.
Oath if a man finds his
property unsound after he has bought it.
In the name of Almighty
God, you did engage to me sound and clean that which you sold to me, and full
security against afterclaim, on the witness of ____, who then was with us two.
How he shall swear who
stands with another in witness.
In the name of Almighty God,
as I here for ____ in true witness stand, unbidden and unbought, so I with my
eyes over-saw, and with my ears over-heard, that which I with him say.
Oath that he knew not
of foulness or fraud.
In the name of Almighty God, I
knew not, in the things about which you sued, foulness or fraud, or infirmity
or blemish, up to that day's-tide that I sold it to you: but it was both sound
and clean, without any kind of fraud.
In the name of the living
God, as I money demand, so have I lack of that which ____ promised me when I
mine to him sold.
In the name of the
living God, I owe not to ____ sceatt or shilling, or penny or penny's worth;
but I have discharged to him all that I owe him, so far as our verbal contracts
were at first.
Of the oath and
degree-bot of men in orders.
A mass-priest's oath,
and a secular thane's, are in English law reckoned of equal value; and by
reason of the seven church-degrees that the mass-priest, through the grace of
God, has acquired, he is worthy of thane-right.
Of the Mercian oath.
A twelve-hynde man's
oath stands for six ceorls oaths: because, if a man should avenge a twelve-hynde man, he will be fully avenged on six
ceorls, and his wer-gild will
be six ceorls' wer-gilds. Bequeathed it and died, he who it owned, with full
folk-right, so as it his elders, with money and with life, lawfully got, and
let and left, in power of him, whom they well gifted. And so it have, as he it
gave, who had it to give, without fraud and unforbidden; and I will possess it,
as my own property, that that I have; and ne'er for thee design, nor plot nor
ploughland, nor turf nor toft, nor furrow nor foot-mark, nor land nor leasowe,
nor fresh nor marsh, nor rough nor plain, by wood nor field, by land nor by
strand, by weald nor by water, but that will maintain, the while that I live;
for there is no man alive, who ever heard that any one made plaint against, or
summoned him at the hundred, or anywhere at gemot, in market-place, or among
church-folk, the while that he lived. Sackless he was in life, be he in the
grave, so as he may. Do as I teach: be you with yours, and leave me with mine:
I covet not yours, nor laeth nor land, nor sac nor socn:
nor need you mine; nor design I to you anything.