Friday, February 8, 2013

The Shire-moot

Whilst the hundred-moot decayed, the folk-moot continued to flourish under a new name, as the shire-moot.

This moot was still attended by the freemen of the shire though the thegns were more numerous and the simple freemen less numerous than they had once been.

Still the continued existence of the shire-moot kept up the custom of self-government more than anything else in England. The ordeals were witnessed, the weregild inflicted, and rights to land adjudged, not by an officer of the king, but by the landowners of the shire assembled for the purpose. These meetings were ordinarily presided over by the ealdorman, who appeared as the military commander and the official head of the shire, and by the bishop, who represented the Church.

Another most important personage was the sheriff, or shire-reeve, whose business it was to see that the king had all his rights, to preside over the shire-moot when it sat as a judicial court, and to take care that its sentences were put in execution.

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