Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Hundred-moot and the Lord's Court

In another way the condition of the peasants was altered for the worse by the growth of the king's power. In former days land was held as 'folkland,' granted by the people at the original conquest, passing to the kinsmen of the holder if he died without children. Afterwards the clergy introduced a system by which the owner could grant the 'bookland,' held by book or charter, setting at nought the claim of his kinsmen, and in order to give validity to the arrangement, obtained the consent of the king and his Witenagemot. In time, the king and the Witenagemot granted charters in other cases, and the new 'bookland' to a great extent superseded the old 'folkland,' accompanied by a grant of the right of holding special courts.

In this manner the old hundred-moots became neglected, people seeking for justice in the courts of the lords. Yet those who lived on the lord's land attended his court, appeared as compurgators, and directed the ordeal just as they had once done in the hundred-moot.

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