Jake Stattel deposited Legal Culture in the Danelaw: a Study of III Æthelred in the group Medieval Studies on Humanities Commons 3 months, 2 weeks ago
Viking invasions and settlements left substantial legacies in late Anglo-Saxon England, attested in legal texts as a division between areas under Dena lage and those under Ængla lage. But how legal practice in Scandinavian-settled England functioned and differed from Anglo-Saxon law remains unclear. III Æthelred, the ‘Wantage Code’, provides critical evidence for legal customs being practised in the Danelaw at the close of the tenth century. An investigation into the code’s peace protections re-examines the argument for occurrences of communal liability in England before the Normans. Wantage’s restrictions on access to law and the need to ‘buy law’ suggest a departure from English conceptions of rights. Provisions on proof in legal cases, including a ‘jury’ of thegns, denote alternative measures of the truth. These analyses depict a Danelaw legal culture that reflects viking army origins, a Scandinavian preference for informal dispute-settlement (‘love’) and the concerns of a landholding Anglo-Scandinavian elite.