Going to chew through my archive of fragmentary note taking on the subject of early medieval violence, and its legal treatment in early medieval society and re-post them.
My own suspicion is that the texts suggest that these are not benevolent attempts to protect and enhance the status of women but are limiting women’ s ability to own and maintain property and land by limiting legal position and ability to maneuver in cases of property dispute (a significant cause of violence in early medieval society).
The fear and legal management of violence is used to re-draw and order the status of targeted social groups.
A stage- managed decline in status for a significant section of the population by an administrative class that seeks to implement change and limit social disruption and unrest by presenting itself as something else.
Such changes in legal status appear highly attractive to early medieval ruling classes as the changes they effect are gradual, decline in status occurring over generations. This slow burn may limit social discontent and keep it isolated to small sections of society.
A gradual detachment and fragmentation leading to long term economic decline and a slow climb down the food chain for targeted social groups on mass.
The perception of violence presented early medieval aristocratic elites a situation and opportunity to significantly re-imagine and re-order society, whilst limiting scope for disruption to its own rule and vision.
Long been argument as to wither early law texts were used in practice or existed only in pieces of parchment with no real effect on early medieval society.
They do however appear particularly well adapted to managing the economic decline and status of targeted cultural groups and present an attractive thesis for the establishment of larger scale cultural entities that develop in Northern Europe during this period.
Becoming Anglo Saxon, Scots or Irish appears intimately linked to this processes of gradual eradication of economic status and identity for marginalized sections of society.
Early medieval law appears to have evolved to effectively handle the transition to larger scale society through economic sanction and gradual eradication of competing cultural identities.
The legal mechanism appears a far older feature of tribal law what is new is the scale and scope of deployment.
Its often rather tempting for a variety of reasons to view the past as static and its social order as unchanging.
One of the dynamic changes occurring in society in this period is the establishment of new detached administrative class. Rather than an elected ruler of the tribe and one of a number of administrators, kingship appears to be undergoing fundamental change during this period.