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could not emancipate those who were then in servitude, nor their future families, without a violent convulsion of the rights of property which then subsisted; and the general resistance would have made the romantic attempt not only ineffectual, but pernicious, both to those he wished to benefit and to the society at large. But what he could do safely he performed. He procured it to be enacted, by the witena-gemot, that if any one should in future buy a Christian slave, the time of his servitude should be limited to six years; and that on the seventh he should be free without any payment, and depart with the wife and the clothes he had at first. But if the lord had given him the wife, both she and her children were to remain. If he chose to continue a slave, he might determine to do so.73 This law struck a decisive blow at slavery in England; it checked their future multiplication; it discouraged their sale and purchase; it esta. blished a system of legal emancipation; and gave the masters a deep interest in the kind treatment of the slaves then belonging to them, in order to preserve the race.
From the effect of this provision, the free population increased every year.
The servile class was more numerous in England than the free. This is the usual case in all countries where slavery prevails : indeed the laborious class always outnumbers the proprietary body.
Their Gilds, or Clubs.
BOOK The gilds, or social confederations, in which
many of the Anglo-Saxons chose to arrange them-
One of these is a gild-scipe, composed of eighteen
ANOTHER gild-scipe at Exeter purports to have been made for God's love, and their soul's need, and to have agreed that their meetings should be
I Our illustrious Hickes has printed this gild-scipe agreement, with others, in his Dissert. Epist p. 18.
thrice a year; viz. at Michaelmas, at Mary's Mass CHAP. over Midwinter, and at the holy days after Easter. Every member was to bring a certain portion of malt, and every cniht was to add a less quantity and some honey. The mass-priest was to sing a mass for their living friends, and another for their dead friends, and every brother two psalms. At the death of every member, six psalms were to be chanted; and every man at the sub-fore was to pay five pennies, and at a house-burning one penny. If any man neglected the appointed days, he was to be fined the first time in three masses, the second in five, and the third time no man was to share with him, unless sickness or the compulsion of the lord occasioned his absence. If any one neglected his payments at the appointed time, he was to pay double; and if any member misgreeted another, he was was to forfeit thirty pence.
It concludes thus : — “We pray for the love of God that every man hold this meeting rightly, so as
so as we have rightly agreed it should be. May God assist us in this." 2
THERE is an instrument made on the establishment of a gild of thegns at Cambridge. By this every member was to take an oath of true fidelity to each other, and the gild was always to assist him who had the most just claim. If any of the gild died, all the gild-scipe was to carry him wherever he desired; and if any neglected to attend on this occasion, he was fined a syster of honey; and the gild-scipe was to furnish half of the provisions at the interment, and every one was to pay two-pence for alms, and what was suitable was to be taken to
2 Hickes, Dissert. Epist. p. 21, 22.
BOOK St. Etheldrytha. If any of the gild should need
the assistance of his companions, and it was men. tioned to the gerefa nearest the gild, then if the gerefa neglected him, unless the gild itself was near, he was to pay one pound. If the lord neglected it, he was to forfeit the same sum, unless his superior claims compelled him to the inattention, or sickness prevented. If any killed one of a gild, eight pounds were to be the compensation ; and if the homicide did not pay it, all the gildship were to avenge their member, and to support the consequences: if one did it, all were to bear alike. If any of the gild killed any other person, and was in distress, and had to pay for the wrong, and the slain were a twelf hinde person, every one of the gild must help with half a mark. If the slain be a ceorl, let each pay two ora, or one ora if a Welshman. If the gildman kills any one wilfully or foolishly, he must bear himself what he should do; and if he should kill any of the gild by his own folly, he and his relations must abide the consequence, and pay eight pounds for the gild, or else lose its society and friendship. If any of the gild eat or drink with the homicide, unless before the king, or the lord bishop, or the ealdorman, he must pay a pound, unless, with two persons sitting, he can prove that he did not know it. If any of the gild misgreet another, let him pay a syster of honey, unless with two friends he can clear himself. If a cniht draw a weapon, let him pay his lord a pound, and let the lord have it where he may; and all the gild-scipe shall help him to get it. If the cniht wound another, let the lord avenge it. If the cniht sits within the path, let him pay a syster of honey; and if he has a foot-seat, let him do the same.
any of the gild die, or fall sick, out of the district, CHAP. let the gild fetch him, and bring him as he wished, either dead or alive, under the penalty before mentioned. If he die at home, and the gild seek not the body, nor his morgen spæce, let a syster of honey be forfeited. 3
These gilds are sometimes alluded to in the laws. If a man without paternal relations should fight and kill another, then his maternal kinsmen were ordered to pay one third of the were, his gild a third, and for the other part his gild was to escape.“ In London there appear to have been free gilds : “ This is the council that the bishops and gerefas that belong to London borough have pronounced, and with pledges confirmed in our free gilds." 5 In a charter concerning Canterbury, the three companies of the citizens within the walls, and those without, are mentioned. 6 Domesdaybook likewise notices a gild of the clergy in the same city.? They seem, on the whole, to have been friendly associations made for mutual aid and contribution, to meet the pecuniary exigencies which were perpetually arising from burials, legal exactions, penal mulcts, and other payments or compensations. That much good-fellowship was connected with them can be doubted by no one. The fines of their own imposition imply that the materials of conviviality were not forgotten.
3 Hickes, Dissert. Epist. p. 20.
6 MS. Chart. penes the late Mr. Astle " tha threo geferriras inne buphpapa and utan buphpapa.” No. 28.
7" 32 inauguras quas tenent clerici de villa in gildam suam.” Domesday, f. 3.