Land Lawsuits and Land-Ownership in Anglo-Saxon England
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Land Lawsuits and Land-Ownership in Anglo-Saxon England
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Anton Zolotaryev 
Affiliation: Voronezh State Technical University
Address: Russian Federation, Voronezh
The article deals with some notions of land property rights in Anglo-Saxon England (8th — 11th century) how they are reflected in land lawsuits of the time. Sources used here are charters and “The libellus Æthelwoldi episcopi”, a part of cartulary chronicle of Ely abbey. It is worth to note that there are about one hundred Anglo-Saxon land lawsuits we know, and this makes it possible to draw some conclusions true and fair enough about how did the Anglo-Saxons conceive rules, that governed land-ownership and transfer of the land. One reveals the following features of land lawsuits in Anglo-Saxon England. Firstly, in the course of events charters became an essential tool that secured a judicial protection of the land-rights for ecclesiastical institutions as well as for laity. A possession of the charters made land property rights of the suitor undeniable and his positions unbeatable. But to have a charter was not fully sufficient to win a case. A common consent of the respective local community which acted as witnesses, jury and oath-helpers was also required. Secondly, there was a contradiction between free alienation of land by charter brought in England by the Church and deep-rooted in early medieval society notion of inalienability of family (clan) inheritance. Thirdly, a considerable part of land lawsuit judgment was compromise, not unconditional victory and surrender. One arranged compromise publicly at law-court assembly by compensating his adversary, even if he was a looser.
Anglo-Saxon England, charter, land property, inheritance, alienability, law-court, compromise
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