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Notes on the text:

Domesday Book Книга Судного Дня


Anglo-Saxon law is the body of legal principles that prevailed in England from the 6th century until the Norman Conquest (1066) and after. In conjunction with Scandinavian law and the so-called barbarian laws of continental Europe, it made up the body of law called Germanic law. Anglo-Saxon law was written in the vernacular and was relatively free of the Roman influence found in continental laws that were written in Latin. Anglo-Saxon law was made up of three components: the laws and collections promulgated by the king, authoritative statements of custom such as those found in the Norman-instituted Domesday Book, and private compilations of legal rules and enactments. The primary emphasis was on criminal law rather than on private law, although certain material dealt with problems of public administration, with public order, and with ecclesiastical matters.

Before the 10th century, the codes often merely presented lists of compositions--money paid to an injured party or his family--but by the 10th century a new penal system had evolved, based on outlawry (declaring a criminal an outlaw), confiscation, and corporal and capital punishment. By this time there had also been an increased development of the law relating to administrative and police functions.

The Anglo-Saxon legal system rested on the fundamental opposition between folkright and privilege. Folkright is the aggregate of rules, whether formulated or not, that can be appealed to as an expression of the juridical consciousness of the people at large or of the communities of which it is composed. The responsibility for the formulation and application of the folkright rested, in the 10th and 11th centuries, with the local shire moots (assemblies). The older laws of real property, succession, contracts, tariffs of fines were mainly regulated by folkright; the law had to be declared and applied by the people themselves in their communities.

Folkright could, however, be broken or modified by special enactment or grant, and the foundation of such privileges was royal power. In time the rights originating in the royal grants of privilege came to outweigh folkright in many respects and were the starting point for the feudal system.

Before the 10th century a man's actions were considered not as exertions of his individual will but as acts of his kinship group. Personal protection and revenge, oaths, marriage and succession were all regulated by the law of kinship. The preservation of peace was an important feature of Anglo-Saxon law. Peace was thought of as the rule of an authority within a specific region. Because the ultimate authority was the king, there was a gradual evolution of more and more stringent and complete rules in respect of the king's peace and its infringements.


1. Answer the following questions using the information from the text:

1. When and where did Anglo-Saxon law prevail?

2. What are the three components of Anglo-Saxon law?

3. What was the primary emphasis of Anglo-Saxon law?

4. What did folkright regulate?

5. Who the responsibility for the formulation and application of the folkright rested with?

6. What was the role of kinship?

7. How was the preservation of peace treated in Anglo-Saxon law?

Complete the sentences with the words from the active vocabulary.

1. He got a six-year jail sentence, a harsh … for a first offense.

2. His elder brother Edwin was next in … to the baronetcy, but he was a total invalid.

3. At that time, a slave was considered ….

4. The … of peace in the region is the main goal of the UNO.

5. The building … are very strict about the materials you can use.

6. Anyone who disobeys this … will be punished.

7. He called the protesters a threat to the social ….

8. At the time, the law gave women very little … from violent husbands.

Insert one of the following words into the text in an appropriate form.

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