The Danish History, Books I-IX eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 572 pages of information about The Danish History, Books I-IX.

Saxo has even recorded the Laws of Frode in four separate bits, which we give as A, B, C, D.

A. is mainly a civil and military code of archaic kind: 

(a) The division of spoil shall be—­gold to captains, silver to privates, arms to champions, ships to be shared by all.  Cf.  Jomswickinga S. on the division of spoil by the law of the pirate community of Jom.

(b) No house stuff to be locked; if a man used a lock he must pay a gold mark.

(c) He who spares a thief must bear his punishment.

(d) The coward in battle is to forfeit all rights (cf.  “Beowulf”, 2885).

(e) Women to have free choice (or, at least, veto) in taking husbands.

(f) A free woman that weds a slave loses rank and freedom (cf.  Roman Law).

(g) A man must marry a girl he has seduced.

(h) An adulterer to be mutilated at pleasure of injured husband.

(i) Where Dane robbed Dane, the thief to pay double and peace-breach.

(k) Receivers of stolen goods suffer forfeiture and flogging at most.

(l) Deserter bearing shield against his countrymen to lose life and property.

(m) Contempt of fyrd-summons or call to military service involves outlawry and exile.

(n) Bravery in battle to bring about increase in rank (cf. the old English “Ranks of Men").

(o) No suit to lie on promise and pledge; fine of a gold lb. for asking pledge.

(p) Wager of battle is to be the universal mode of proof.

(q) If an alien kill a Dane two aliens must suffer. (This is practically the same principle as appears in the half weregild of the Welsh in West Saxon Law.)

B. An illustration of the more capricious of the old enactments and the jealousy of antique kings.

(a) Loss of gifts sent to the king involves the official responsible; he shall be hanged. (This is introduced as illustration of the cleverness of Eric and the folly of Coll.)

C. Saxo associates another set of enactments with the completion of a successful campaign of conquest over the Ruthenians, and shows Frode chiefly as a wise and civilising statesman, making conquest mean progress.

(a) Every free householder that fell in war was to be set in his barrow with horse and arms (cf.  “Vatzdaela Saga”, ch. 2).

The body-snatcher was to be punished by death and the lack of sepulture.

Earl or king to be burned in his own ship.

Ten sailors may be burnt on one ship.

(b) Ruthenians to have the same law of war as Danes.

(c) Ruthenians must adopt Danish sale-marriage. (This involves the abolition of the Baltic custom of capture-marriage.  That capture-marriage was a bar to social progress appears in the legislation of Richard ii, directed against the custom as carried out on the borders of the Palatine county of Chester, while cases such as the famous one of Rob Roy’s sons speak to its late continuance in Scotland.  In Ireland it survived in a stray instance or two into this century, and songs like “William Riley” attest the sympathy of the peasant with the eloping couple.)

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The Danish History, Books I-IX from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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