Cyfraith Hywel
   HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

''Cyfraith Hywel'' (; ''Laws of
Hywel Hywel (), sometimes anglicised Anglicisation is the process by which a place or person becomes influenced by Culture of England, English culture or Culture of the United Kingdom, British culture, or a process of cultural and/or linguistic change ...
''), also known as Welsh law ( la, Leges Walliæ), was the system of
law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. ...
practised in
medieval Wales {{Commons category History of Wales, Period Former countries by period, Wales History of the United Kingdom by period, Wales ...
before its final conquest by England. Subsequently, the Welsh law's criminal codes were superseded by the
Statute of Rhuddlan The Statute of Rhuddlan (12 Edw 1 cc.1–14; cy, Statud Rhuddlan ), also known as the Statutes of Wales ( la, Statuta Valliae) or as the Statute of Wales ( la, Statutum Valliae, links=no), provided the constitutional basis for the government of ...
in AD 1284 and its civil codes by
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his Wives of Henry VIII, six marriages, and for his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) ...
's series of Laws in Wales Acts between 1535 and 1542. Welsh law was a form of Celtic law with many similarities to the
Brehon law Early Irish law, historically referred to as (English: Freeman-ism) or (English: Law of Freemen), also called Brehon law, comprised the statutes which governed everyday life in Early Medieval Ireland Early may refer to: History * The begin ...
of
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
and particularly the customs and terminology of the Britons of
Strathclyde Strathclyde ( in Scottish Gaelic, Gaelic, meaning "strath (valley) of the River Clyde") was one of nine former Local government in Scotland, local government Regions and districts of Scotland, regions of Scotland created in 1975 by the Local ...
. It was passed down orally by jurists and bards and, according to tradition, only first codified during the reign of
Hywel Dda Hywel Dda, sometimes anglicised as Howel the Good, or Hywel ap Cadell (died 949/950) was a king of Deheubarth who eventually came to rule most of Wales. He became the sole king of Seisyllwg in 920 and shortly thereafter established Deheubarth ...
in the mid-10th century. The earliest surviving manuscripts, however, are in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
, date from the early 13th century, and show marked regional differences.Wade-Evans, Arthur. ''
Welsh Medieval Law Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east ...
''. Oxford Univ., 1909. Accessed 1 Feb 2013.
The law is only known to have been revised by a few rulers (particularly
Bleddyn ap Cynfyn Bleddyn ap Cynfyn ( owl, Bledẏnt uab Kẏn ỽẏn;  AD 1075), sometimes spelled Blethyn, was an 11th-century Welsh king. Harold Godwinson Harold Godwinson ( – 14 October 1066), also called Harold II, was the last crown ...
, who was credited with revisions retained in the
kingdom of Powys The Kingdom of Powys ( cy, Teyrnas Powys; la, Regnum Poysiae) was a Wales, Welsh succession of states, successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain. It very ro ...
) but was obviously updated by
jurist A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholar, mostly (but not always) with a formal qualification in law and often a legal practitioner. In the U ...
s in response to changing jurisdictions and circumstances, so that the surviving manuscripts cannot be considered an accurate portrayal of Hywel's first code. Notable features of Welsh law include the collective responsibility of kindreds (Welsh
cenedl
for their members; the
gavelkind Gavelkind () was a system of land tenure chiefly associated with the Celtic law in Ireland and Wales and with the legal traditions of the English county of Kent. The word may have originated from the Old Irish phrases ''Gabhaltas-cinne'' or ''Gav ...
inheritance of land among all and only male descendants; a status-based system of blood money (''
galanas ''Galanas'' in Welsh law Welsh law ( cy, Cyfraith Cymru) is an autonomous part of the English law system composed of legislation made by the Senedd.Law Society of England and Wales (2019)England and Wales: A World Jurisdiction of Choice eport( ...
''); slavery and serfdom; the inability of foreigners to naturalize earlier than the fourth generation; and very lax treatment of divorce and legitimacy that scandalized the non-native
clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the ter ...
.


Overview

The laws include the "laws of the court", the laws laying down the obligations and entitlements of the king and the officers of his court and the "laws of the country" dealing with every other topic. In some versions of the laws some of the material in the laws of the country are split off into the "justices' test book" dealing with homicide, theft and the values of wild and tame animals and other items. Within each of these sections there are tracts of varying length dealing with different subjects, for example the law of women and the law of contracts. Civil law differed from most other codes of law in the rule that on a landowner's death his land was to be shared equally between his sons, legitimate and illegitimate. This caused conflict with the church, as under
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or chur ...
illegitimate children could not inherit. Once a case came to court, the method used to come to a decision was usually by
compurgation Compurgation, also called trial by oath, wager of law, and oath-helping, was a defence used primarily in medieval law. A defendant could establish their innocence or nonliability by taking an oath and by getting a required number of persons, typi ...
. Under this system the person accused or the parties to a dispute would give their version under oath, following which they had to find a number of others who would take an oath that the principal's oath could be trusted. The number of compurgators required depended on the nature of the case. The judge or judges would then come to a decision.
Capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned practice of deliberately killing a person as a punishment for an actual or supposed crime, usually following an authorized, rule-governed process to ...
was only prescribed for a small number of crimes. Homicide was usually dealt with by the payment of compensation to the victim's family, while theft could be punished by death only if it was theft by stealth and the thief was caught with the goods in hand; the value of the goods stolen also had to exceed four pence. Most other offences were punished by a fine.


Origins

Most of the surviving manuscripts of Welsh law start with a preamble explaining how the laws were codified by Hywel. The introduction to the Book of Blegywryd is a typical example: As each of the manuscripts dates from centuries later than Hywel's time, this statement cannot be used to date the event described above. Professor Huw Pryce has demonstrated that some of the prologues were developed in response to attacks on Welsh law by Church men and Nobles who wished to gain rights more akin to those enjoyed by Ecclesiastics and the aristocracy in England. In discussing Hywel's association with the law, K. L. Maund suggests: On the other hand, the Iorwerth versions, produced in Gwynedd, have exactly the same attribution of the law to Hywel and the council at Whitland as do the southern versions. It is more likely that Hywel's name was used to lend some form of “ancestral authority" to the laws. The best that may be said of Hywel's association with the law is that a folk memory recalled a revision and rejuvenation of the law during his reign. Other kings are said to have introduced later modifications to the laws, for example
Bleddyn ap Cynfyn Bleddyn ap Cynfyn ( owl, Bledẏnt uab Kẏn ỽẏn;  AD 1075), sometimes spelled Blethyn, was an 11th-century Welsh king. Harold Godwinson Harold Godwinson ( – 14 October 1066), also called Harold II, was the last crown ...
, king of
Gwynedd Gwynedd (; ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county and preserved county (latter with differing boundaries; includes the Isle of Anglesey) in the North West Wales, north-west of Wales. It shares borders with Powys, Conwy County B ...
and
Powys Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain ...
in the mid 11th century. Some of the legal material, such as the tract on the Seven Bishop Houses of Dyfed, may be dated to a very early period of law. Other material bears comparison with
Early Irish Law Early Irish law, historically referred to as (English: Freeman-ism) or (English: Law of Freemen), also called Brehon law, comprised the statutes which governed everyday life in Early Medieval Ireland. They were partially eclipsed by the Norma ...
.


Manuscripts

Although there are a substantial number of manuscripts containing the law texts, there are no existing manuscripts of law texts dating back to the time of Hywel and Welsh law was continually being revised and updated. There has been some debate among scholars as to whether the laws were originally written in Welsh or
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
. The ''Surexit'' memorandum in the
Lichfield Gospels The Lichfield Gospels (recently more often referred to as the St Chad Gospels, but also known as the Book of Chad, the Gospels of St Chad, the St Teilo Gospels, the Llandeilo Gospels, and variations on these) is an 8th-century Insular script, I ...
is a record of the outcome of legal proceedings dating from the 9th century and written in Welsh, and though it is not a law manual it does indicate the use of Welsh legal terms at that time. The earliest manuscripts known are
Peniarth 28 Peniarth 28 is the earliest of the surviving copy of the Cyfraith Hywel, Laws of Hywel Dda. The manuscript, which is written in Latin, dates from the second half of the thirteenth century. It is part of the Peniarth Manuscripts, Peniarth Manuscript ...
, written in Latin but now generally thought to be a translation of a Welsh original, and Peniarth 29, known as the ''
Black Book of Chirk The ''Black Book of Chirk'' ( cy, Llyfr Du o'r Waun) is a 13th-century Welsh-language manuscript, known also as the Chirk Codex. It is Peniarth 29 of the National Library of Wales, and deals with legal and historical matters. It contains also an el ...
'', written in Welsh. These are thought to date from the early or mid 13th century. There are a large number of law manuscripts, written mainly in Welsh but some in Latin, written between this period and the 16th century. Later manuscripts have been shown to reflect legal developments particularly in the Southern Welsh lordships. Apart from the full compilations there are shorter versions thought to have been working copies used by judges. However they are all usually considered to fall into three Redactions, known as the Cyfnerth Redaction, the Blegywryd Redaction and the Iorwerth Redaction. *The Cyfnerth Redaction, thought to be linked to the area between the
River Wye The River Wye (; cy, Afon Gwy ) is the Longest rivers of the United Kingdom, fourth-longest river in the UK, stretching some from its source on Plynlimon in mid Wales to the Severn estuary. For much of its length the river forms part of Wal ...
and the
River Severn , name_etymology = , image = SevernFromCastleCB.JPG , image_size = 288 , image_caption = The river seen from Shrewsbury Castle , map = RiverSevernMap.jpg , map_size = 288 , map_c ...
, possibly Maeliennydd, includes some of the least developed law. It is thought to have been compiled in the late 12th century when this area came under the rule of the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth. *The Blegywryd Redaction is associated with
Deheubarth Deheubarth (; lit. "Right-hand Part", thus "the South") was a regional name for the Welsh kingdoms, realms of south Wales, particularly as opposed to kingdom of Gwynedd, Gwynedd (Latin: ''Venedotia''). It is now used as a shorthand for the vario ...
and shows signs of the influence of the church. *The Iorwerth Redaction is thought to represent the law as modified in Gwynedd during the reign of
Llywelyn the Great Llywelyn the Great ( cy, Llywelyn Fawr, ; full name Llywelyn mab Iorwerth; c. 117311 April 1240) was a King of Kingdom of Gwynedd, Gwynedd in north Wales and eventually "List of rulers of Wales, Prince of the Welsh" (in 1228) and "Prince of Wal ...
in the first part of the 13th century by the jurist Iorwerth ap Madog. This is considered to be the most developed version of the law, though it does contain some archaic passages. The version in ''Llyfr Colan'' is thought to be a revision of Iorwerth, though also from the 13th century, and there is also the ''Llyfr y Damweiniau'' (possibly best translated as "The book of happenings", modern literal translation "The book of mistakes"), a collection of case-law linked to Colan. No manuscript has survived from
Powys Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain ...
, though the Iorwerth Redaction does indicate where usage in Powys differs from usage in Gwynedd.


Laws of the court

The first part of the laws deal with the rights and duties of the king and the officers of the king's court. The order of precedence is set down: first the king, then the queen, then the or edling, the heir. Next come the officers of the court; the Iorwerth Redaction identifies twenty-four, of whom sixteen are the king's officers and eight the queen's officers. First in rank was the captain of the household troops, then the priest of the household, then the steward followed by the chief falconer, the court justice, the chief groom and the chamberlain. A list of additional officers follows, including such officers as the groom of the rein, the porter, the bakeress and the laundress. Each officer's entitlements and obligations are listed.Laws of Hywel Dda: Jenkins, Dafydd It introduces a number of legal terms. ''Sarhad'' could mean an insult or injury or the payment that was due to a person in the event of an insult or injury, and this varied according to the status of the person concerned, for example the queen or the edling's ''sarhad'' was one third that of the king. ''
Galanas ''Galanas'' in Welsh law Welsh law ( cy, Cyfraith Cymru) is an autonomous part of the English law system composed of legislation made by the Senedd.Law Society of England and Wales (2019)England and Wales: A World Jurisdiction of Choice eport( ...
'' was a form of
weregild Weregild (also spelled wergild, wergeld (in archaic/historical usage of English), weregeld, etc.), also known as man price (Blood money (restitution), blood money), was a precept in some archaic legal codes whereby a monetary value was establishe ...
and represented the value of a person's life in the event of a homicide and was set at three times the ''sarhad'', though the ''sarhad'' was also payable by the killer. ''Dirwy'' was a fine payable for crimes and ''camlwrw'' a smaller fine for less serious offences, while ''ebediw'' was a death duty payable to the deceased's lord. ''Sarhad'' and ''dirwy'' are still Welsh words meaning ‘insult’ and ‘fine’ respectively, The origins of the various redactions are reflected in the relative position of the rulers of the Welsh kingdoms. The Iorwerth Redaction manuscripts proclaim the superiority of the king of
Aberffraw Aberffraw is a village and community (Wales), community on the south west coast of the Isle of Anglesey ( cy, Ynys Môn), in Wales, by the west bank of the Afon Ffraw (Ffraw River). The community includes Soar, Anglesey, Soar and Dothan. Locate ...
, chief seat of the kingdom of Gwynedd, over the others, while the manuscripts from Deheubarth claim at least equality for the king of Dinefwr, chief seat of the southern kingdom. While Welsh law lays more emphasis on the powers of the king than the Brehon Law of Ireland, this is still restricted compared to many other codes. As Moore comments:


Laws of the country


Classes

For the purposes of the laws, Welsh society was divided into five classes: the rulers, including the king (''rhi'' or ''brenin'') over his kingdom and the lords over their fiefs; the free Welsh, including both the pedigreed aristocracy (''boneddigion'' or ''uchelwyr'') and the yeomen together; the Welsh serfs (''taeogion'', ''ailltion'', or ''bileiniaid''); foreigners resident in Wales (''alltudion''); and the slaves (''caethion''). The privileges, penalties, and obligations due by law varied with the social status of the person concerned.


Naturalization

At the time of Hywel's laws, ''Cymry'' the modern Welsh for all of the Welsh people apparently only applied to the free classes and not to serfs or slaves. However, none of them counted as a "foreigner" and, even if they moved from one Welsh "kingdom" (''
gwlad Gwlad ( in Welsh language, Welsh) is a Centre-right politics, centre-right Wales, Welsh Welsh nationalism, nationalist and Welsh independence, pro-independence political party. Its current leader is Gwyn Wigley Evans. Background In late 2017, a ...
'') to another, they did not suffer that status but were considered fully native.Wade-Evans, p. 331. Those from outside Wales were considered between serfs and slaves, forbidden to offer testimony, and obliged to pledge themselves to a native Welshman (even a serf) who would be responsible for them. This status could only be removed after three generations in the north and possibly as many as nine elsewhere, after which the foreigner's descendants were considered to be native serfs.


Laws of women

The position of women under Welsh law differed significantly to that of their Norman-English contemporaries. A marriage could be established in two basic ways. The normal way was that the woman would be given to a man by her kindred; the abnormal way was that the woman could elope with a man without the consent of her kindred. In this case her kindred could compel her to return if she was still a virgin, but if she was not she could not be compelled to return. If the relationship lasted for seven years she had the same entitlements as if she had been given by her kin. A number of payments are connected with marriage. ''Amobr'', or commutation-fee, was a fee payable to the woman's lord on the loss of her virginity, whether on marriage or otherwise. ''Cowyll'', or maiden-fee, was a payment due to the woman from her husband on the morning after the marriage, marking her transition from virgin to married woman.
Dower Dower is a provision accorded traditionally by a husband or his family, to a wife for her support should she become widowed. It was settlement (law), settled on the bride (being gifted into trust instrument, trust) by agreement at the time of ...
(''agweddi'') was the amount of the common pool of property owned by the couple which was due to the woman if the couple separated before the end of seven years. The total of the agweddi depended on the woman's status by birth, regardless of the actual size of the common pool of property. If the marriage broke up after the end of 7 years, the woman was entitled to half the common pool. The portion that was immediately accessible during the marriage, consisting usually of linens, dishes, and other domestic items, was known as ''argyvrau''. If a woman found her husband with another woman, she was entitled to a payment of six score pence (i.e. half a pound) the first time and a pound the second time; on the third occasion she was entitled to divorce him. If the husband had a concubine, the wife was allowed to strike her without having to pay any compensation, even if it resulted in the concubine's death. A woman could only be beaten by her husband for three things: for giving away something which she was not entitled to give away, for being found with another man, or for wishing a blemish on her husband's beard. If he beat her for any other cause, she was entitled to the payment of ''sarhad''. If the husband found her with another man and beat her, he was not entitled to any further compensation. According to the law, women were not allowed to inherit land. However, there were exceptions, even at an early date. A poem dated to the first half of the 11th century is an elegy for Aeddon, a landowner on Anglesey. The poet says that after his death his estate was inherited by four women who had originally been brought to Aeddon's court as captives after a raid and had found favour with him. The rule for the division of moveable property when one of a married couple died was the same for both sexes. The property was divided into two equal halves, with the surviving partner keeping one half and the dying partner being free to give bequests from the other half.


Criminal law

Murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due to a large and complex Huma ...
was regarded as an offence against the family rather than against society or the state. It was normally dealt with by the payment of blood money (''
galanas ''Galanas'' in Welsh law Welsh law ( cy, Cyfraith Cymru) is an autonomous part of the English law system composed of legislation made by the Senedd.Law Society of England and Wales (2019)England and Wales: A World Jurisdiction of Choice eport( ...
'') by the killer ''and'' his extended family to the family of the deceased. The base sum was computed by the social status and position of the victim. The ''galanas'' of the king of Deheubarth was set at an impossibly long line of impossibly perfect cattle to ensure it could never be met; the family of a murdered slave, meanwhile, received no ''galanas'', although the slave's owner was to be compensated for the loss. This sum might then be modified in certain situations (for example, an attack from ambush doubled the base fine). Upon the payment of the blood money, the victim's family was then legally bound to forgo its vengeance (''dial''). Murder by poison, however, carried the death penalty.
Assault An assault is the act of committing physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in crim ...
or offenses against
honor Honour (British English) or honor (American English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling differences) is the idea of a bond between an individual and a society as a quality of a person that is both of socia ...
were dealt with in a similar fashion, through a fine called ''sarhaed''. However, it only applied to the upper classes: any serf who struck a free man was liable to have the offending limb removed. The crime of
rape Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without their consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, Abusive power and control, ...
was treated as a theft and remedied by the payment of another fine (''dirwy''), payment of which restored the woman's virginity for legal purposes. A man who could not pay the fine was to have his testicles removed. Similarly, a convicted thief was imprisoned in the first instance, but a serf convicted for the third time was to have his hand removed. (Assuming he was not caught in the act: thieves caught with goods in hand more valuable than four '' ceiniogau'' were liable for hanging.Lloyd, p
306
) Such strong penalties led the Welsh to narrowly define "theft", however: forcible
robbery Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force, threat of force, or by use of fear. According to common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the perso ...
was considered much less serious. Further, a hungry man who had passed at least three towns without receiving a meal could not be punished for stealing food. Aiding and abetting including witnessing a killing and failing to protect the victim or receiving stolen property was also punished with ''dirwy'' fines. Although Hywel's commission generally recorded the traditions of the country, one modification they made was to end the right of nobles to trial by combat, finding it unjust.Owen, Aneurin.
Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales: comprising laws supposed to be enacted by Howel the Good and anomalous laws, consisting principally of institutions which by the statute of Ruddlan [''sic''
/nowiki> were admitted to continue in force]'', Vol. II. Public Record Office of Great Britain, 1841. Accessed 5 Feb 2013.


Compensation

Medieval Welsh law placed a high value on compensation for any breach of the law. In particular, high and detailed compensation values were given for each limb of the body. There are nine limbs of equal value (that is the hands, the eyes, the lips, the feet, and the nose) each of which is valued at 480 pennies, every other limb is carefully valued and can be altered depending on various influencing factors. The values given to eyes, ears, nose, lips, hands, and feet are identical; termed as the ‘Limbs of equal value’ they represent 12.7% of the standard ''
galanas ''Galanas'' in Welsh law Welsh law ( cy, Cyfraith Cymru) is an autonomous part of the English law system composed of legislation made by the Senedd.Law Society of England and Wales (2019)England and Wales: A World Jurisdiction of Choice eport( ...
'' for a ''boneheddig'' (A ''boneheddig'' is a standard free-man, whose ''galanas'' is valued at 3780 pennies/ 63 cows). There are no additional complexities to any of these costs, except when it comes to ears. The Iorwerth manuscripts and LATIN A do not value the ear itself at 480 pennies, instead they differentiate between the loss of an ear and the loss of hearing. If the ear is lost but the victim can still hear, then the price lies at 160 pennies, whilst deafness (even without the loss of ear) retains the 480 penny value. This is a rare example of a ‘functional value being given where the loss of the function of the ear... is appreciated and not the organ itself’. Harris notes that although these members are all given equal value, it seems there is some underlying notion that some are perhaps more essential than others (at least in the Iorwerth and LATIN A texts) with hearing being more important than any of the other senses. Fingers are valued at 80 pence each, whilst a thumb has a value of 180 pence which corresponds to its use in ‘gripping agricultural equipment or arms’. The Iorwerth and Cyfnerth 5 recensions value a finger nail at 30 pence, whilst the top of the finger to the first knuckle is valued (in the same texts) at 26 2/3 of a penny. The price of a fingernail as it is valued in Iorwerth and Cyfnerth is 0.8% of the ''galanas'', and intriguingly the thumbnail in the Wessex tariff also stands at 0.8% of the ''wergild'' value for the man. Harris argues that these similar percentages reflect the co-existence of two legal systems in Wales; the Welsh and the English. The triad known as the ''Tri Arberygl Dyn'' (Three Dangerous wounds of man) specifies three injuries for which
‘teyr punt a geyf y nep a archoller y gan y nep ay harchollo’
‘He who is wounded shall have 3 pounds from him who wounds him’.
These are; when a man is cut so that the brains can be seen, when a man is pierced so his entrails can be seen, and when one of the four posts of the body (the limbs) are broken. The body parts appear to be classed for compensation based on how much use they have in society. The higher the use; the higher the compensation cost. Loss of hearing, for example, as well as loss of testes and/or penis incur very high redress rates, because their loss will cause either danger or an inability to continue lineage, which was highly important in such a kin-based society. The tongue is also particularly high because, as with the ear, it would have formed the primary means of communication for the victim. Also notable are the different grades of compensation given to wounds depending on the degree of disfigurement produced by the wounding, with a differentiation between ''craith ogyfarch''; a conspicuous scar which attracts remarks, and ''craith guiddiedig''; a hidden scar which will therefore attract less remarks. The ''craith ogyfarch'' afforded the most compensation, but the value of the ''ogyfarch'' compensation varied according to its noticability. The three most conspicuous scars are given as those on a face (six score pence), on a hand (sixty pence), and on a foot (thirty pence), whilst a hidden scar is given only four pence. The Latin texts A and E ‘make provision for a cloak to cover facial disfigurement’ and front teeth were also accorded a higher value than other teeth.


Surety and contracts

The section on surety lays down the rules if a person acts as ''mach'' or
surety In finance, a surety , surety bond or guaranty involves a promise by one party to assume responsibility for the debt obligation of a borrower if that borrower defaults. Usually, a surety bond or surety is a promise by a surety or guarantor to pay ...
, for example for a debt, and gives the provisions for various cases, such as where the debtor refuses to pay or denies the debt and where the surety denies the suretyship or contests the sum involved. Rules are also given for the giving and forfeiting of gages. Another aspect is ''amod'' or
contract A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more Party (law), parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, Service (economics), ser ...
, usually made by the two parties calling ''amodwyr'' who are witnesses to prove the terms agreed by the parties. It is laid down that: In what is thought to be an archaic survival in some versions of Iorwerth it is stated that women are not entitled to act as sureties or to give sureties. Later versions of this rule in Iorwerth state that women were entitled to give sureties, and could therefore enter into contracts, though they were still not allowed to act as sureties. In Colan, Cyfnerth and some of the Latin texts women could give sureties and could under certain circumstances act as sureties. This appears to indicate a gradual improvement in the legal position of women in this respect.


Land law

This is followed by land law, setting out the procedure in the event of rival ownership claims over land. Court was convened on the land itself, with both claimants calling witnesses to support their claims. In the Iorwerth Redaction, it is stated that the claimants were entitled to the representation by both types of lawyer - ''cyngaws'' and ''canllaw''. If both claims were deemed to have equal merit, the law allowed for the land to be shared equally between the two claimants. On the death of a landowner (''priodawr'') his immovable estate (land) passed in
joint tenancy In property law, a concurrent estate or co-tenancy is any of various ways in which property is owned by more than one person at a time. If more than one person owns the same property, they are commonly referred to as co-owners. Legal terminolo ...
(''cytir'') to his sons, similar to the
gavelkind Gavelkind () was a system of land tenure chiefly associated with the Celtic law in Ireland and Wales and with the legal traditions of the English county of Kent. The word may have originated from the Old Irish phrases ''Gabhaltas-cinne'' or ''Gav ...
system of
Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River ...
. Then the youngest son partitioned (''cyfran'') the land equally, and each brother took his share. Illegitimate sons were entitled to shares equal to those of legitimate sons, provided they had been acknowledged by the father. This provision differed the most from
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or chur ...
; as the Iorwerth text puts it: ''Dadannudd'' is a son's claim to land which previously belonged to his father. A landowner's right to convey land was restricted; it was only allowed under certain circumstances with the consent of his kindred and coheirs (''laudatio parentum''). With the consent of the lord and the kindred, the landowner could use the living gage (''prid''). The land would be made over to a gagee (''pridwr'') for a period of four years, and if the land had not been redeemed by the gagor (owner) or his heirs at the end of the four years, the gage could then be renewed for additional four-year periods. After three renewals (or 16 years total), the land passed permanently to the gagee.


Succession

From the time of the fall of Rome, Wales was divided into numerous petty "kingdoms" ('' gwledydd'', lit. "peoples") which were repeatedly unified and then redivided. It is frequently stated that Welsh law demanded the division of a kingdom between all the ruler's sons, but that is a misunderstanding of the inheritance law the crown itself was unitary but the king's '' lands'' (''maertref'') were required to be divided among all of his acknowledged sons by whatever mother. This naturally weakened the position of the new king and that weakness, along with the long free and separate traditions of the various Welsh ''gwledydd'', then permitted disputes and civil wars among the family
appanage An appanage, or apanage (; french: apanage ), is the grant of an estate, title, office or other thing of value to a younger child of a sovereign, who would otherwise have no inheritance under the system of primogeniture. It was common in much ...
s. Further, by the time of Hywel, the kingdoms normally taken as independent
Deheubarth Deheubarth (; lit. "Right-hand Part", thus "the South") was a regional name for the Welsh kingdoms, realms of south Wales, particularly as opposed to kingdom of Gwynedd, Gwynedd (Latin: ''Venedotia''). It is now used as a shorthand for the vario ...
,
Powys Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain ...
, &c. were nominally subordinate to the elder line of the family in
Gwynedd Gwynedd (; ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county and preserved county (latter with differing boundaries; includes the Isle of Anglesey) in the North West Wales, north-west of Wales. It shares borders with Powys, Conwy County B ...
and bound to display that with annual gifts. The confusion of the 11th century and the use of the Saxon loanword ''edling'' for the heir also seem to have clouded the issue. By law, the principal homestead (and presumably the realm) were to go to the king's eldest son, so long as this potential successor was not damaged in any limb, blind, deaf, or mentally retarded,Owen, p
687
and of sufficient age. If the eldest son were ineligible for whatever reason, his brothers, uncles, and first and second cousins were all considered legitimate substitutes. Likewise, even when the eldest son did inherit, other descendants of his great-grandfather were considered legitimate rulers and not usurpers if they were able to wrest control away from him. Finally, although our surviving editions of Hywel's law explicitly forbid inheritance by or through female members of the royal family, Hywel's line itself derived from lords of Man who had (allegedly) married into the dynasties of Gwynedd and Powys and there are numerous examples through the 11th century of kings asserting their legitimacy on account of royal mothers, despite surviving underage representatives of the male line of succession.


The justices' test book

This is only a separate section in the Iorwerth Redaction; in the other versions the material is incorporated in the "Laws of the country" section. It is a compilation of the rules for dealing with the "Three Columns of Law", namely cases of homicide, theft and fire, and "The Value of Wild and Tame". There are also appendices dealing with joint ploughing and corn damage by stock.


The value of wild and tame

"The value of wild and tame" gives the values of various animals, for example: Values are also given for trees, equipment and parts of the human body. The value of a part of the body was fixed, thus a person causing the king to lose an eye would pay the same as if he had caused a villein to lose an eye. However he would also have to pay ''sarhad'', and this would be far greater for the king than for the villein.


Administration of the law

The main administrative divisions of mediaeval Wales were the
cantref A cantref ( ; ; plural cantrefi or cantrefs; also rendered as ''cantred'') was a Wales in the Early Middle Ages, medieval Welsh land division, particularly important in the administration of Welsh law. Description Land in medieval Wales was divid ...
s, each of which was divided into several
commote A commote (Welsh language, Welsh ''cwmwd'', sometimes spelt in older documents as ''cymwd'', plural ''cymydau'', less frequently ''cymydoedd'')''Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru'' (University of Wales Dictionary), p. 643 was a secular division of land i ...
s. These were of particular importance in the administration of the law. Each cantref had its own court, which was an assembly of the "''uchelwyr''", the main landowners of the cantref. This would be presided over by the king if he happened to be present in the cantref, or if he was not present by his representative. Apart from the
judge A judge is a person who wiktionary:preside, presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a Judicial panel, panel of judges. A judge hears all the witnesses and any other Evidence (law), evidence presented by the barristers or s ...
s there would be a clerk, an usher and sometimes two professional pleaders. The cantref court dealt with crimes, the determination of boundaries and matters concerning inheritance. The commote court later took over most of the functions of the cantref court. The judges (Welsh ''ynad'') in Gwynedd were professionals, while in south Wales the professional judges worked together with the free landowners of the district, all of whom were entitled to act as judges. A person accused of a crime could deny the charge by denying it on oath and finding a certain number of persons prepared to go on oath that they believed his or her own oath, a system known as
compurgation Compurgation, also called trial by oath, wager of law, and oath-helping, was a defence used primarily in medieval law. A defendant could establish their innocence or nonliability by taking an oath and by getting a required number of persons, typi ...
. The number of persons required to swear depended on the gravity of the alleged crime; for example denying a homicide could require 300 compurgators, while if a woman accused a man of rape, the man would have to find 50 men prepared to swear to his innocence. For lesser crimes a smaller number would be sufficient. Witnesses could also be called, including eyewitnesses of the crime (''gwybyddiaid''). A witness who has once been proved to have given false testimony on oath was barred from ever appearing as a witness again. The task of the judge, having considered the case, was to determine what sort of proof was appropriate and which of the parties was to be required to produce proof, whether by the calling of witnesses, by compurgation or by pledges, then in the light of the proof to adjudicate on the case and impose the appropriate penalty in accordance with the law if a penalty was called for. According to the Iorwerth Redaction, a prospective judge had to be at least twenty-five years of age and his legal knowledge has to be approved by the Court Justice: :''... when his teacher sees that he is worthy, let him send him to the Court Justice, and it is for the Court Justice to test him, and if he finds him worthy, it is for him to send him to the Lord and it is for the Lord to grant him justiceship ... And it is for him to give twenty-four pence to the Court Justice as his fee.'' It was possible to appeal against a judge's decision, and the appellant could demand that the judge show the authority of a book for his judgment. The consequences for a judge could be serious if his judgement was reversed, involving a financial penalty equivalent to the value of his tongue as laid down in the values of the parts of the body. He would also be banned from acting as a judge in future.


Impact of the Norman and Edwardian conquests


Marcher lordships

Welsh law usually applied in the
Welsh Marches The Welsh Marches ( cy, Y Mers) is an imprecisely defined area along the Wales-England border, border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods. The English term Welsh Mar ...
as well as the areas ruled by Welsh princes. In the event of a dispute, the first argument in the border regions might be about which law should apply. For example, when
Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn (died c. 1286) was a Welsh people, Welsh king who was lord of the part of Kingdom of Powys, Powys known as Powys Wenwynwyn and sided with Edward I of England, Edward I in his Conquest of Wales by Edward I, conquest of Wales o ...
was in dispute with Roger Mortimer about some lands, it was Gruffydd who wanted the case heard under English law and Mortimer who wanted Welsh law to apply. The matter went to the royal justices, who decided in 1281 that since the lands concerned lay in Wales, Welsh law should be used.


Edwardian conquest

Welsh law came to be a particularly important badge of nationhood in the 12th and 13th centuries, particularly during the struggle between Llywelyn the Last and King
Edward I of England Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1272 to 1307. Concurrently, he ruled the duchies of Duchy of Aquitaine, Aquitaine and D ...
in the second half of the 13th century. Llywelyn stated: The
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally resp ...
,
John Peckham John Peckham (c. 1230 – 8 December 1292) was Archbishop of Canterbury in the years 1279–1292. He was a native of Sussex who was educated at Lewes Priory and became a Friar Minor about 1250. He studied at the University of Paris under Bo ...
when involved in negotiations with Llywelyn on behalf of King Edward in 1282 sent Llywelyn a letter in which he denounced Welsh law, stating that King Hywel must have been inspired by the devil. Peckham had presumably consulted the Peniarth 28 manuscript which was apparently held in the library at St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury at this time. One of the features to which the English church objected was the equal share of land given to illegitimate sons. Following Llywelyn's death the
Statute of Rhuddlan The Statute of Rhuddlan (12 Edw 1 cc.1–14; cy, Statud Rhuddlan ), also known as the Statutes of Wales ( la, Statuta Valliae) or as the Statute of Wales ( la, Statutum Valliae, links=no), provided the constitutional basis for the government of ...
in 1284 introduced English criminal law into Wales: "in thefts, larcenies, burnings, murders, manslaughters and manifest and notorious robberies — we will that they shall use the laws of England". Nearly two hundred years after Welsh law ceased to be used for criminal cases, the poet Dafydd ab Edmwnd ( fl. 1450–80) wrote an elegy for his friend, the harpist Siôn Eos, who had accidentally killed a man in a tavern brawl in
Chirk Chirk ( cy, Y Waun) is a town and community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as place, norms, religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors ...
. Siôn Eos was hanged, and Dafydd ab Edmwnd laments that he could not have been tried under the more humane Law of Hywel rather than "the law of London". Welsh law was still used for civil cases such as land inheritance, contracts, sureties and similar matters, though with changes, for example illegitimate sons could no longer claim part of the inheritance. The
Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 The Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 ( cy, Y Deddfau Cyfreithiau yng Nghymru 1535 a 1542) were Act of Parliament, Acts of the Parliament of England, and were the parliamentary measures by which Wales was annexed to the Kingdom of England. Moreo ...
brought Wales entirely under English law; when the 1535 Act declares the intention ''utterly to extirpe alle and singular sinister usages and customs'' belonging to Wales, Welsh law was probably the main target.


Welsh law after the Laws in Wales Acts

The last recorded case to be heard under Welsh law was a case concerning land in
Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire ( cy, Sir Gaerfyrddin; or informally ') is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South West Wales, south-west of Wales. The three largest towns are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford. Carmarthen is the c ...
in 1540, four years after the 1536 Act had stipulated that only English law was to be used in Wales. Even in the 17th century in some parts of Wales there were unofficial meetings where points of dispute were decided in the presence of arbiters using principles laid down in Welsh law. Antiquarian interest in the laws continued, and in 1730 a translation by William Wotton was published. In 1841 Aneurin Owen edited an edition of the laws entitled ''Ancient laws and institutions of Wales'', and was the first to identify the various Redactions, which he named the "Gwentian Code" (Cyfnerth), the "Demetian Code" (Blegywryd) and the "Venedotian Code" (Iorwerth). His edition was followed by a number of other studies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Carmarthenshire County Council has set up the Hywel Dda Centre in Whitland, with an interpretative centre and garden to commemorate the original council.
Contemporary Welsh Law Welsh law ( cy, Cyfraith Cymru) is an autonomous part of the English law system composed of legislation made by the Senedd.Law Society of England and Wales (2019)England and Wales: A World Jurisdiction of Choice eport(Link accessed: 16 March 2 ...
is a term applied to the body of primary and secondary legislation generated by the
Senedd The Senedd (; ), officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English language, English and () in Welsh language, Welsh, is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes ...
, according to devolved authority granted in the
Government of Wales Act 2006 The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the then-National Assembly for Wales (now the Senedd) and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily. The Act ...
. Each piece of Welsh legislation is known as an Act of the Senedd. The first legislation to be officially proposed was called the NHS Redress (Wales) Measure 2008. These powers have been effective since May, 2007. It is the first time in almost 500 years that Wales has had its own laws, since Cyfraith Hywel was abolished and replaced by English law through the Laws in Wales Acts, passed between 1535 and 1542 by King Henry VIII of England.


In later fiction

Ellis Peters in '' The Cadfael Chronicles'' often uses the ancient Welsh laws. The novel called '' Monk's Hood'' mentions the ''Cyfraith Hywel'' (called Hywel Dda). A recognised son, born out of wedlock has an over-riding claim to his father's property. The manor is in Wales. His demand could be accepted because the manor, lying in Wales, is under Welsh law.


See also

* Celtic law *
Contemporary Welsh Law Welsh law ( cy, Cyfraith Cymru) is an autonomous part of the English law system composed of legislation made by the Senedd.Law Society of England and Wales (2019)England and Wales: A World Jurisdiction of Choice eport(Link accessed: 16 March 2 ...
*
Early Irish law Early Irish law, historically referred to as (English: Freeman-ism) or (English: Law of Freemen), also called Brehon law, comprised the statutes which governed everyday life in Early Medieval Ireland. They were partially eclipsed by the Norma ...
* Laws of the Brets and Scots


References


Sources

* T.M. Charles-Edwards, Morfydd E. Owen and D.B. Walters (ed.) (1986) ''Lawyers and laymen: studies in the history of law presented to Professor Dafydd Jenkins on his seventy-fifth birthday'' (University of Wales Press) * T.M. Charles-Edwards (1989) ''The Welsh laws'' Writers of Wales series (University of Wales Press) * T.M. Charles-Edwards, M.E. Owen and P. Russell (eds.) (2000). ''The Welsh king and his court'' (University of Wales Press). Cardiff. * R.R. Davies (1987) ''Conquest, coexistemce and change: Wales 1063–1415'' (Clarendon Press, University of Wales Press) * Hywel David Emanuel (1967) ''The Latin texts of the Welsh laws'' (University of Wales Press) * Daniel Huws (1980) ''The medieval codex with reference to the Welsh Law Books'' (University of Wales Press) * A.O.H. Jarman (1981) ''The cynfeirdd: early Welsh poets and poetry''. Writers of Wales Series. University of Wales Press. * Dafydd Jenkins (1986) ''The law of Hywel Dda: law texts from mediaeval Wales translated and edited'' (Gomer Press) * Dafydd Jenkins and Morfydd E. Owen (ed.) (1980) ''The Welsh law of women : studies presented to Professor Daniel A. Binchy on his eightieth birthday, 3 June 1980'' (University of Wales Press) * T. Jones Pierce ''Medieval Welsh society: selected essays'' (University of Wales Press) * * * Kari Maund (2006) ''The Welsh kings: warriors, warlords and princes'' (Tempus) * David Moore (2005) '' The Welsh wars of independence: c. 410 – c. 1415'' (Tempus) * Huw Pryce (1993) ''Native Law and the Church in Medieval Wales'' (Oxford Historical Monographs) (Clarendon Press) * Melville Richards (1954) ''The laws of Hywel Dda (The Book of Blegywryd), translated by Melville Richards'' (Liverpool University Press) * David Stephenson (1984) ''The governance of Gwynedd'' (University of Wales Press) * Aled Rhys William (1960) ''Llyfr Iorwerth: a critical text of the Venedotian code of mediaeval Welsh law'' (University of Wales Press) * Glanmor Williams (1987) ''Recovery, reorientation and reformation: Wales c. 1415–1642'' (Clarendon Press, University of Wales Press)


External links


The Laws of Hywel Dda
(Peniarth MS 28), hosted by the
National Library of Wales The National Library of Wales ( cy, Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru), Aberystwyth, is the national legal deposit library of Wales and is one of the Welsh Government sponsored bodies. It is the biggest library in Wales, holding over 6.5 million boo ...

A view of Jesus College MS 57
hosted by Oxford University * Th
Welsh Prose 13501425 Project
a digital record of Middle Welsh texts (including surviving law manuscripts) from the University of Cardiff *Th
Hywel Dda Centre
in Whitland * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Cyfraith Hywel Customary legal systems Law of the United Kingdom Legal history of Wales Medieval Welsh literature Medieval legal codes