Concept

Frankpledge

Summary
Frankpledge was a system of joint suretyship common in England throughout the Early Middle Ages and High Middle Ages. The essential characteristic was the compulsory sharing of responsibility among persons connected in tithings. This unit, under a leader known as the chief-pledge or tithing-man, was then responsible for producing any man of that tithing suspected of a crime. If the man did not appear, the entire group could be fined. While women, clergy and the richer freemen were exempt, otherwise all men over 12 years of age were organised in the system for mutual surety. Origins The first mention of frankpledge comes in 1114–1118, with the Leges Henrici Primi; but 12th-century figures like William of Malmesbury were keen to link it to pre-Norman times, and to the laws of Canute the Great. Some historians have indeed seen in the Anglo-Saxon frith-borh (literally "peace-pledge") the clear anticipation of frankpledge; others consider the 12th-century commentators were readi
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