Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Laws in Maldon

Control your pig! [source]
The town of Maldon was mentioned recently as the site of a disastrous (for the Anglo-Saxons) battle. Maldon also is known for a detailed set of laws. Although the oldest manuscript we have is from the Court Book of March 1444, the laws were developed over centuries. Let's look at some:
1. The heir to a man's lands is to be the youngest son of his first wife. If the man only has daughters, the lands are to be divided between them, but the youngest may have first pick. If the children are underage, their mother (or stepmother, if applicable) shall be their guardian; if she fails to maintain the property, she shall lose guardianship to the nearest friends of the deceased. The widow has dower right in her late husband's property, even if she remarries – although the children are not to lose their inheritance as a result of her remarriage. 
10. On market day no man shall regrate,* nor sell meat, fish or other foodstuffs until the hour of prime, when the bell is rung. 
19. The owner of any pig allowed to run loose shall be fined 4d., of which 2d. to the town and 2d. to the man who finds the pig and drives it to the town pound. 
29. Any resident who places dung or wastes on the common roads shall be fined 40d. 
30. No resident may sell victuals within 5 miles of the town, under penalty of 6s.8d for the first offence and loss of franchise for the second. 
37. No Dutchman or other alien may bear a weapon, on pain of its confiscation. 
38. Every alien must be in his house by 10 o'clock in the summer and 8 o'clock in the winter; any officer or freeman may bring a defaulter to the hall to pay a fine or provide an excuse. 
40. No resident burgess is in anger to call a bailiff or wardemen by any name such as thief, knave, backbiter, whoreson, false, foresworn, cuckold, or bawd.
*"regrators" bought foodstuffs not to consume, but to re-sell at a profit, which took business away from legitimate food-sellers. Regrators were allowed in Oxford.

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