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.

(b) That all suits shall be absolutely referred to the judgment of twelve chosen elders (Lodbroc here appearing in the strange character of originator of trial by jury).

“Tributes".—­Akin to laws are the tributes decreed and imposed by kings and conquerors of old.  Tribute infers subjection in archaic law.  The poll-tax in the fourteenth century in England was unpopular, because of its seeming to degrade Englishmen to the level of Frenchmen, who paid tribute like vanquished men to their absolute lord, as well as for other reasons connected with the collection of the tax.

The old fur tax (mentioned in “Egil’s Saga”) is here ascribed to Frode, who makes the Finns pay him, every three years, a car full or sledge full of skins for every ten heads; and extorts one skin per head from the Perms.  It is Frode, too (though Saxo has carved a number of Frodes out of one or two kings of gigantic personality), that made the Saxons pay a poll-tax, a piece of money per head, using, like William the Conqueror, his extraordinary revenue to reward his soldiers, whom he first regaled with double pay.  But on the conquered folks rebelling, he marked their reduction by a tax of a piece of money on every limb a cubit long, a “limb-geld” still more hateful than the “neb-geld.”

HOTHERUS (Hodr) had set a tribute on the Kurlanders and Swedes, and Hrolf laid a tribute on the conquered Swedes.

Godefridus-GOTRIC is credited with a third Saxon tribute, a heriot of 100 snow-white horses payable to each Danish king at his succession, and by each Saxon chief on his accession:  a statement that, recalling sacred snow-white horses kept in North Germany of yore makes one wish for fuller information.  But Godefridus also exacted from the Swedes the “Ref-gild”, or Fox-money; for the slaying of his henchman Ref, twelve pieces of gold from each man of rank, one from every commoner.  And his Friesland tribute is stranger still, nor is it easy to understand from Saxo’s account.  There was a long hall built, 240 feet, and divided up into twelve “chases” of 20 feet each (probably square).  There was a shield set up at one end, and the taxpayers hurled their money at it; if it struck so as to sound, it was good; if not, it was forfeit, but not reckoned in the receipt.  This (a popular version, it may be, of some early system of treasury test) was abolished, so the story goes, by Charles the Great.

Ragnar’s exaction from Daxo, his son’s slayer, was a yearly tribute brought by himself and twelve of his elders barefoot, resembling in part such submissions as occur in the Angevin family history, the case of the Calais burgesses, and of such criminals as the Corporation of Oxford, whose penance was only finally renounced by the local patriots in our own day.


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