Treaty of Wedmore, 878-890

The treaty came after Alfred’s victory at Edington. After the battle, the Viking leader Guthrum was baptised, and became Alfred’s adopted son. This ‘Peace of Wedmore’ is referred to in Asser’s biography but does not survive. The Treaty below does survive, and dates from this time, but a firm dates can’t be established.

The Treaty between King Alfred and Guthrum, 878-890

This is the peace that King Alfred and King Guthrum, and the witan of all the English nation, and all the people that are in East Anglia, have all ordained and with oaths confirmed, for themselves and for their descendants, as well forborn as for unborn, who reck of God’s mercy or of ours.

  1. Concerning our land boundaries: Up on the Thames, and then up on the Lea, and along the Lea unto its source, then straight to Bedford, then up on the Ouse unto Watling Street.
  2. Then is this: If a man be slain, we estimate all equally dear, English and Danish, at 8 half marks of pure gold; except the ceorl who resides on rented land and theirĀ  freedmen; they also are equally dear, either atcc. shillings.
  3. And if a king’s thegn be accused of manslaying, if he dare clear himself on oath, let him do that with 12 king’s thegns. If any one accuse that man who s of less degree than the king’s thegn, let him clear himself with xi of his equals and with one king’s thegn. And so in every suit which may be more than 4 mancuses (120 silver pennies). And if he dare not, let him pay for it threefold, as it may be valued.
  4. And that every man know his warrantor in acquiring slaves and horses and oxen.
  5. And we all ordained on that day that the oaths were sworn, that neither bond nor free might go to the host without leave, no more than any of them to us. But if it happen that from necessity any of them will have traffic with us or we with them, with cattle and with goods, that is to be allowed in this wise: that hostages be given in pledge of peace, and as evidence whereby it may be known that the party has a clean back.


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