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Medieval Sourcebook:
The "Laws of Henry I": The Murder Fine

There is some evidence that the French conquerors of England faced some resistence from the conquered population.

91. Concerning the payment of murder [fine.] If any Frenchman, or any Norman or, lastly, any man from beyond the sea is slain, and the affair turns out so calamitously that it is considered murder and the slayer is unknown and eventually flees, so that within seven days he is not handed over to the king's justice for the carrying out of whatever may be right, 46 m. of silver shall be paid--40 m. to the king and 6 m. to the relatives of the slain man. If the relative have no accusers or provers, these [6m.] shall go to him who does prove [who committed] the murder. Where, however, [the slain man] is found, there must investigation be made according to the law, and the aldermen of the hundred and [the lord] on whose land [the slain man] lies should give security that he will be paid for.... If the murder is discovered in a house or in a hall or in a close, when it comes to paying the aforesaid 46m., whatever is in that manor...shall first be sold... And if thereby the 46 m. are forthcoming, nothing is to be sought elsewhere, but if there is a deficiency, it is made up by the hundred in common. If, moreover, the manor in which the murder is discovered is of the king's demense farm, and if the king so orders, composition for it shall be made by the entire hundred. If the murder is discovered in fields that are open and generally accessible, [the money] shall be supplied by the whole hundred in common, and not merely by him to whom the land belongs. If it happens on the boundary. [the obligation] shall fall on both [hundreds]. If it is on the king's highway, compensation is to be paid by him who owns the adjacent land...

92. [The death of] an Englishman is not regarded or paid for as murder, but only [that of] a Frenchman; indeed, should there be no one to prove that the slain man is English, he is held to be French.... If a hundred wishes to prove concerning someone that he is not a Frenchman and that [accordingly] there is no murder, this obligation is to be entrusted to twelve of the better men from the same hundred, swearing [to that effect]...


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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Paul Halsall, July 1998