• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Was Saxon justice harsh and superstitious?

Extracts from this document...


Was Saxon justice harsh and superstitious? Between AD500 and 1100 England changed form being a mass of small kingdoms into one united country. During these centuries, kings played a vital part in every aspect of government and especially in crime and punishment. A king's most important tasks were to defend his country from attacks and to make sure his laws were obeyed. Laws were made by kings after consulting nobles and bishops. At first, Laws had two main aims, to protect landowners' property from damage or theft and to protect people from violence although freemen got more protection than slaves. Early Saxon kings allowed the victims of crimes to punish the criminal themselves. If someone was murdered, the family had the right to track down and kill the murderer. This right was known as the 'Blood Feud'. There were two problems about this legal violence. Firstly, it often led to even more violence as families and their friends banded together to take revenge for an attack and then this led to another attack. Secondly, it did not protect people who did not want to use violence against those who had harmed them. ...read more.


In a modern trial there are lawyers to prosecute and defend, and jury members must have no prior knowledge of the accused. By contrast, at a Saxon trial there were no lawyers to prosecute or defend the accused person. The accuser was the person who claimed to be the victim of the crime. The jury was also different. It was made up of men from the area who probably knew the accuser and the accused. Both the accused and the accuser told their version of events to the jury. It was then up to the jury to decide who was telling the truth. If there was no clear evidence (such as a witness having seen the crime take place) they used their experience of people concerned. If the jury felt the accuser was more honest in general than the accused, they swore an oath that the accused was guilty. The jury's oath taking was called Compurgation. There were times when the jury members could not agree with each other. This was usually in cases of theft or murder when there was no witness. Trial by ordeal was the solution to this problem. ...read more.


on the end of a rope. The rope was knotted above the waist. If the person sank and the knot went below the surface then he was innocent because the 'pure' water had been willing to let this innocent beneath its surface. However, if he and the knot floated then they believed the water was rejecting him because he was guilty. Trial by consecrated bread was taken by priests. The priest first had to pray, asking that he be choked by the bread if he lied. Then he had to eat a piece of consecrated bread. If he choked then he was guilty because God would not let a sinner eat consecrated bread. This might seem a much more lenient ordeal but people believed that God was sure to punish a priest who lied and so it was seen as the most effective or all ordeals. I think that the Saxons used trial by ordeal as a means of finding out whether someone was guilty or not to deter other would be criminals from committing crime. In my opinion, Saxon trials were based on superstition rather than logic because the trials in order to ascertain whether the person was guilty were based on a chance result and were often biased of finding them guilty. 1,257 words ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    In order to decide whether or not trial by jury should or should not ...

    4 star(s)

    necessary to change several things to improve the size of the pool that jurors are drawn from and to make those called less likely to ask to be excused. According to the Auld report. 'A Central Juror Summoning Bureau has now been established to administer the juror summoning process for the whole of the country.

  2. Criminal Law (Offences against the person) - revision notes

    The outcome of a successful voluntary intoxication defence No acquittal for murder so can drop from murder to involuntary manslaughter The outcome of the defence depends on the offence which must always be specific intent The impact on murder The successful use of the defence leads to the defendant being found guilty of a lesser offence.

  1. Should Capital Punishment be enforced

    helps Christians believe that capital punishment is accepted as a form of punishment for wrongdoers. Other quotes from the bible include "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

  2. The Law Relating to Negotiable Instruments

    he received the payment on behalf of a 'customer' and not on his own account, i.e., he acted as an agent for collection and not in the capacity of holder for value. It may be noted that if a banker credits his customer's account with the amount of the check

  1. Should juvenile offenders be treated differently to adult offenders?

    This affects the victim and the accused. People with limited education or don't understand the court procedures are disadvantaged as they are unaware of their rights. This Act aims to make juvenile offenders take blame for their dealings, recognise the victims rights, avoid the cost and time of the court proceedings and substitutes to detention.

  2. The Constitutionalisation of the Treaties by the European Court of Justice.

    the Community constitutes a new legal order of international law...the subjects of which comprise not only Member States, but also their nationals'. It is submitted here that four of the arguments regarding general scheme and wording have weak basis and that had the Court really looked at the general scheme

  1. Worlds Apart: Orientalism, Antifeminism, and Heresy in Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale

    man, regardless of the cotemporality of their creation. So too, of course, in Augustine's interpretation of the second creation story of Adam's rib, Eve--virago--has a status dependent upon Adam, formed from his body and after him. Aquinas and other later medieval authorities also read both creation accounts as justification of the binary opposition of man and woman, expressing the widespread anxiety about similitude that fuels antifeminist discourse.

  2. Describe the system of trial by jury within the English legal system.

    The reason for this is, the idea of a jury is to have a group of people with less knowledge of the legal system and better local knowledge than anyone involved in the legal system, and to have a jury who is open minded and not prosecution minded about the case.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work