wergild


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wergild:

see compositioncomposition,
in ancient and medieval law, a sum of money paid by a guilty party as satisfaction to the family of the person who was injured or killed. Failure to make the payment might justify retaliation in kind against the offender or his family.
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Wergild

 

(in Russian, vira’;, in Polish, gtowa), in the Leges Germanorum, money compensation for the murder of a freeman. It arose as an alternative to the blood feud, gradually replacing it. The amount of the wergild was established by an agreement between the two parties with consideration of the sex and age of the person murdered. The Leges Germanorum of the Germanic tribes provided special protection for women and children and also set a higher amount of wergild for the murder of aristocrats, officials, and clergymen. The wergild was established as a fixed sum of money (in solidi) and paid by the murderer or his kinsfolk in definite shares to the family of the murder victim, to his kinsfolk, and to the king. According to the Salic Law, the wergild for the murder of a free Frank was 200 solidi, for the murder of a royal retainer 600 solidi. Failure to pay the wergild on time returned to the victimized party his right to use direct violence against the murderer.

With the development of feudal relations in Western Europe, the wergild gradually lost its importance, but it was retained in various forms until the 12th or 13th century.

The vira of Russkaia Pravda, which corresponds to the Germanic wergild, reflects a later phase in the evolution of this institution.

REFERENCES

Chernilovskii, Z. M. Istoriia rabovladel’ cheskogo gosudarstva i prava, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1960.
Khrestomatiia pamiatnikov feodal’nogo gosudarstva i prava stran Evropy. Moscow, 1961.
References in periodicals archive ?
(15) The institution of wergild is of course one product of these typifications.
Most women in the saga will have little of this substitution, insisting as they do on the lack of symbolic equivalence between a man's life and wergild, although this is affected by considerations of class.
For centuries, negotiating a wergild was one of the few transactions in which actual money was used.
This is, for instance, made clear by the different provisions of the Anglo-Saxon laws concerning the payment of wergild. There seems to have been, however, a basically tripartite division of society.
Wallace-Hadrill, working with the bloodfeud of the early medieval Franks, has noted the function of the feud, or fear of it, as the sanction behind other forms of dispute resolution, such as wergild or arbitration.
13) Gif hine mon gilt, ponne mot he gesellan on para hyndenna gehwelcere monnan 7 byrnan 7 sweord on paet wergild, gif he oyrfe.
The court has given the prosecutor a period of 45 days to contact families of the victims and ask them whether they want punishment or wergilds. The convict's defense lawyer, Abu Bakr, told Reuters Tuesday that he would "be approaching the Chinese ambassador to Sudan and the families of the victims to support payments to the families of the two tribesmen so that they would not be put to death by hanging." (ST)