John Hudson

in The Oxford History of the Laws of England

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780198260301
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740640 | DOI:

Series: The Oxford History of the Laws of England


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It is often difficult and sometimes misleading to separate the legal from the social and economic aspects of personal status in Anglo-Saxon society and indeed in post-Conquest England. For example, notable indicators of status might be how honourable any services owed were and whether services of a less honourable kind had to be performed in person. In addition, aspects of status can overlap with aspects of what might better be referred to as office, most notably in the case of thegnship. Nevertheless, the notion of legal status remains analytically useful, focusing attention on contexts in which status could be of legal consequence, notably jurisdiction, procedure in court, penalties suffered, relationship to movables and land, lordship. This chapter discusses hierarchies of status, men of higher status, men of lesser status, slaves, clergy, and lordship and commendation.

Keywords: legal status; thegnship; hierarchy; slaves; clergy; lordship; commendation; English law; Anglo-Saxon period

Chapter.  12540 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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