Book 2, Chapter 5, 878 AD to 901 AD – Saxon Laws
The means which Alfred took to provide an efficient force to repress the Danes are stated to have been some modification of the ancient provincial divisions of England, which had long before been known as shires. The alterations which he made with these are not detailed. But it is expressly declared that he began the system of dividing them into hundreds, and these into ten parts of tithings. Under these nominal divisions, the population of the country was arranged. Every person was directed to belong to some hundred or tithing, every hundred and tithing were pledged to the preservation of the public peace and security in their districts, and were made answerable for the conduct of their several inhabitants. In, consequence of this arrangement, the inhabitants were speedily called out to repel an invader, and every criminal accused was sure to be apprehended. If he was not produced by the hundred or tithing to which he was attached, the inhabitants of these divisions incurred a general mulct.
Thus every person in the district was interested in seizing or discovering the offender. If he fled, he must go to other districts, where, not having been marshalled within their jurisdiction, he would be known and punished as an outlaw, because unpledged, for he who was not pledged by some hundred and tithing experienced all the severity of the law. It is added to this statement, that Alfred divided the provincial prefects into two officers, judges, and sheriffs. Until his time there were only sheriffs. He separated, by the appointment of justices or judges, the judicial from the executive department of the law, and thus provided an improved administration of law and justice. That golden bracelets were hung up in the public roads, and were not pilfered, is mentioned as a fact, which evidenced the efficacy of his police.
Chapter 5, Alfred’s Fortifications
Chapter 5, Revolt in the Danelagh
Chapter 5, Alfred’s Educational Efforts
Chapter 5, Alfred’s Industry and Zeal
Chapter 5, Saxon Laws
Divisions of the Country
Chapter 5, Summary of Alfred’s Character
Categories: Book 2