How did the Anglo- Saxons enforce the law?

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  • How did the Anglo-Saxons enforce the law?
    • it was easier to identify a criminal as everyone knew one another
      • it was expected for local communities to take collective responsibility.
      • each community had a 'reeve' who carried out decisions made by local courts.
        • church communities = required daily labourers to run the buildings and supply food
    • the role of the local community in policing was very important
      • God was the final judge
      • Status and position of different groups should be clear
    • it was a victim's responsibility to seek justice as well as the whole community
    • Tithings were responsible for the behaviour of all the others
      • Reeves were men who were appointed to bring criminals to justice.
      • Hue and cry = shouting for help and everyone who heard the shout should chase the suspect
    • Oaths are a formal declaration of the facts
      • played an important part in proving a person's innocence.
      • Hearings took place in public and the accused could swear their innocence under oath.
      • Trial by ordeal = testing someone's innocence or guilt in the eyes of God
        • Ordeal by hot water = putting their hand into hot water. The condition of their arm after three days explains whether they are guilty or not.
        • Ordeal by cold water = tied up and put in holy water. Sank = innocent, float = guilty
        • Trial by fire = walking a certain distance over hot ploughshares. If the wound healed - innocent, if not - guilty.

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