Early English Law

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A) Early English law sought not only to deter crime and immoral behaviour but to exert social control, particularly over the lesser mortals, nothing changes.

Crimes committed in early England are not much different to the crimes committed today, although the punishments given are very different. Our methods today for punishment no longer use barbaric methods such as hanging, stoning, burning, drowning, decapitation and the breaking of the neck for serious crimes nor do we amputate , blind, scalp and brand for the lesser crimes committed. Instead we send offenders to prison for the serious crimes and fine/community service for the lesser crimes committed. Abduction, murder, rape, robbery, damage to property and assault are still punishable today but adultery and slaves are no longer offences due to society changes. To exert social control early English law stated “any person who tried to escape pursuit or to act in self-defence could be cut down irrespective of the magnitude of the suspected offence or the age or sex of the suspected offender” this can be said for today if a suspect were to run from a crime. In Aethelbert’s codes that all men were not equal before the law, and even less so in the case of women does not extend to today as far as the law is today, all men and women are equal regardless of colour, race, age or gender. Early English law did not have prisons and fines were determined by social status, the higher up the person was the less they had to pay. The king did not have the expense in maintaining prisons as as far as he was concerned compensation rather than incarceration was eminently satisfactory method of dealing with crime. Substantial proportion of fines and confiscations were claimed by him, crime did pay as far as the crown was concerned. Today, fines could not be considered for crimes such as rape and murder. Another method of early English law social control was that of hanging, stoning, burning, drowning,...
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