The Prologue to the Laws of King Ælfred (OE)

Text from Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, 1er Band: Text und Übersetzung, edited by F. Liebermann, pp. 26–46 (Halle a. S.: Max Niemeyer, 1898).

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Updated 31 October 2006.
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[Af. El. Pro.] Dryhten wæs sprecende ðas word to Moyse 7 þus cwæð: Ic éom dryhten ðin God. Ic ðe útgelædde of Egipta londe 7 of hiora ðeowdome.

[El. 1] Ne lufa ðu oþre fremde godas ofer me.

[El. 2] Ne minne noman ne cig ðu on idelnesse; forðon þe ðu ne bist unscyldig wið me, gif ðu on idelnesse cigst minne noman.

[El. 3] Gemyne þæt ðu gehalgige þone ræstedæg; wyrceað eow VI dagas 7 on þam siofoðan restað eow: forðam on VI dagum Crist geworhte heofonas 7 eorðan, sæs 7 ealle gesceafta þe on him sint, 7 hine gereste on þone siofoðan dæg, 7 forðon Dryhten hine gehalgode.

[El. 4] Ara ðinum fæder 7 þinre medder, ða þe Dryhten sealde, þæt ðu sie þy leng libbende on eorþan.

[El. 5] Ne sleah ðu.

[El. 6] Ne lige ðu dearnenga.

[El. 7] Ne stala ðu.

[El. 8] Ne sæge ðu lease gewitnesse.

[El. 9] Ne wilna ðu þines nehstan ierfes mid unryhte.

[El. 10] Ne wyrc ðe gyldne godas oððe sylfrene.

[El. 11] Þis sint ða domas þe ðu him settan scealt: Gif hwa gebycgge cristenne þeow, VI gear ðeowige he; ðy siofoðan beo he frioh orceapunga; mid swelce hrægle he ineode, mid swelce gange he út. Gif he wif self hæbbe, gange hio út mid him. Gif se hlaford him þonne wif sealde, sie hio 7 hire bearn þæs hlafordes. Gif se þeowa þonne cweðe: ‘Nelle ic from minum hlaforde ne from minum wife, ne from minum bearne ne from minum ierfe’, brenge hine þonne his hlaford to ðære dura þæs temples 7 þurhþyrlige his eare mid æle, to tácne þæt he sie æfre siððan þeow.

[El. 12] Ðeah hwa gebycgge his dohtor on þeowenne, ne sie hio ealles swa ðeowu swa oðru mennenu: nage he hie út on elðeodig folc to bebycgganne. Ac gif he hire ne recce, se ðe hie bohte, læte hie freo on elðeodig folc. Gif he ðonne alefe his suna mid to hæmanne, do hiere gyfta: locige þæt hio hæbbe hrægl; 7 þæt weorð sie hiere mægðhades, þæt is se weotuma, agife he hire þone. Gif he hire þara nan ne do, þonne sie hio frioh.

[El. 13] Se mon se ðe his gewealdes monnan ófslea, swelte se deaðe. Se ðe hine þonne nedes ófsloge oððe unwillum oððe ungewealdes, swelce hine God swa sende on his honda, 7 he hine ne ymbsyrede, sie he feores wyrðe 7 folcryhtre bote, gif he friðstowe gesece. Gif hwa ðonne óf giernesse 7 gewealdes ófslea his þone nehstan þurh searwa, aluc ðu hine from minum weofode, to þam þæt he deaðe swelte.

[El. 14] Se ðe slea his fæder oððe his modor, se sceal deaðe sweltan.

[El. 15] Se ðe frione forstele 7 he hine bebycgge, 7 hit onbestæled sie, þæt he hine bereccean ne mæge, swelte se deaðe. — Se ðe werge his fæder oððe his modor, swelte se deaðe.

[El. 16] Gif hwa slea his ðone nehstan mid stane oððe mid fyste, 7 he þeah utgongan mæge bi stafe, begite him læce 7 wyrce his weorc ða hwile þe he self ne mæge.

[El. 17] Se ðe slea his agenne þeowne esne oððe his mennen, 7 he ne sie idæges dead, ðeah he libbe twa niht oððe ðreo, ne bið he ealles swa scyldig, forþon þe hit wæs his agen fioh. Gif he ðonne sie idæges dead, ðonne sitte sio scyld on him.

[El. 18] Gif hwa on cease éacniende wif gewerde, bete þone æwerdlan, swa him domeras gereccen. Gif hio dead sie, selle sawle wið sawle.

[El. 19] Gif hwa oðrum his eage oðdo, selle his agen fore: toð fore teð, honda wið honda, fet fore fét, bærning for bærninge, wund wið wunde, læl wið læle.

[El. 20] Gif hwa áslea his ðeowe oððe his ðeowenne þæt eage út 7 he þonne hie gedo ánigge gefreoge hie for þon. Gif he þonne ðone toð ófaslea, do þæt ilce.

[El. 21] Gif oxa ofhnite wer oððe wíf, þæt hie dead sien, sie he mid stanum ofworpod, 7 ne sie his flæsc eten; se hlaford bið unscyldig. Gif se oxa hnitol wære twam dagum ǽr oððe ðrim, 7 se hlaford hit wisse 7 hine inne betynan nolde, 7 he ðonne wer oððe wif ofsloge, sie he mid stanum ofworpod, 7 sie se hlaford ófslegen oððe forgolden, swa ðæt witan to ryhte finden. Sunu oððe dohtor gif he ofstinge, ðæs ilcan domes sie he wyrðe. Gif he ðonne ðeow oððe ðeowmennen ofstinge, geselle þam hlaforde XXX scill. seolfres, 7 se oxa mid stanum ofworpod.

[El. 22] Gif hwa adelfe wæterpyt oððe betynedne ontyne 7 hine eft ne betyne, gelde swelc neat swelc ðær on befealle, 7 hæbbe him ðæt deade.

[El. 23] Gif oxa oðres monnes oxan gewundige, 7 he ðonne dead sie, bebycggen þone oxan 7 hæbben him þæt weorð gemæne 7 eac ðæt flǽsc swa ðæs deadan. Gif se hlaford þonne wisse, þæt se oxa hnitol wære, 7 hine healdan nolde, selle him oðerne oxan fore 7 hæbbe him eall ðæt flǽsc.

[El. 24] Gif hwa forstele oðres oxan 7 hine ófslea oððe bebycgge, selle twegen wið 7 feower sceap wið anum. Gif he næbbe hwæt he selle, sie he self beboht wið ðam fio.

[El. 25] Gif ðeof brece mannes hús nihtes 7 he weorðe þær ofslegen, ne sie he na mansleges scyldig. Gif he siððan æfter sunnan upgonge þis deð, he bið mansleges scyldig 7 he ðonne self swelte, buton he nieddæda wære. Gif mid him cwicum sie funden þæt he ær stæl, be twyfealdum forgielde hit.

[El. 26] Gif hwa gewerde oðres monnes wingeard oððe his æcras oððe his landes awuht, gebete swa hit mon geeahtige.

[El. 27] Gif fyr sie ontended rýt to bærnanne, gebete þone æfwerdelsan se ðæt fýr ontent.

[El. 28] Gif hwa oðfæste his friend fioh, gif he hit self stæle, forgylde be twyfealdum. Gif he nyte, hwa hit stæle, geladige hine selfne, þæt he ðær nán facn ne gefremede. Gif hit ðonne cucu feoh wære, 7 he secgge, þæt hit here name oððe hit self ácwæle, 7 gewitnesse hæbbe, ne þearf he þæt geldan. Gif he ðonne gewitnesse næbbe, 7 he him ne getriewe, swerige he þonne.

[El. 29] Gif hwa fæmnan beswice unbeweddode 7 hire midslæpo, forgielde hie 7 hæbbe hi siððan him to wife. Gif ðære fæmnan fæder hie ðonne sellan nelle, agife he ðæt feoh æfter þam weotuman.

[El. 30] Ða fæmnan þe gewuniað onfón gealdorcræftigan 7 scinlæcan 7 wiccan, ne læt þu ða libban.

[El. 31] 7 se ðe hæme mid netene, swelte he deaðe.

[El. 32] 7 se ðe godgeldum ónsecge ofer God anne, swelte se deaðe.

[El. 33] Utan cumene 7 elðeodige ne geswenc ðu no, forðon ðe ge wæron giu elðeodige on Egipta londe.

[El. 34] Þa wuduwan 7 þa stiopcild ne sceððað ge, ne hie nawer deriað. Gif ge þonne elles doð, hie cleopiað to me, 7 ic gehiere hie 7 ic eow þonne slea mid minum sweorde 7 ic gedó, þæt eowru wif beoð wydewan 7 eowru bearn beoð steopcild.

[El. 35] Gif ðu fioh to borge selle þinum geferan, þe mid þe eardian wille, ne niede ðu hine swa swa niedling 7 ne gehene þu hine mid ðy eacan.

[El. 36] Gif mon næbbe buton anfeald hrægl hine mid to wreonne 7 to werianne, 7 he hit to wedde selle, ǽr sunnan setlgonge sie hit agifen. Gif ðu swa ne dest, þonne cleopað he to me, 7 ic hine gehiere, forðon ðe ic eom swiðe mildheort.

[El. 37] Ne tæl ðu ðinne Dryhten, ne ðone hlaford þæs folces ne werge þu.

[El. 38] Þine teoðan sceattas 7 þine frumripan gongendes 7 weaxendes agif þu Gode.

[El. 39] Eal ðæt flǽsc þæt wildeor læfen ne eten ge þæt, ac sellað hit hundum.

[El. 40] Leases monnes word ne rec ðu no þæs to gehieranne, ne his domas ne geðafa ðu, ne nane gewitnesse æfter him ne saga ðu.

[El. 41] Ne wend ðu ðe no on þæs folces unræd 7 unryht gewill on hiora spræce 7 geclysp ofer ðin ryht, 7 ðæs unwisestan lare ne him ne geðafa.

[El. 42] Gif ðe becume oðres mannes giemeléas fioh on hond þeah hit sie ðin feond, gecyðe hit him.

[El. 43] Dem ðu swiðe emne. Ne dem ðu oðerne dóm þam welegan, oðerne ðam earman; ne oðerne þam liofran 7 oðerne þam laðran ne dem ðu.

[El. 44] Ónscuna ðu a leasunga.

[El. 45] Soðfæstne man 7 unscyldigne ne acwele ðu þone næfre.

[El. 46] Ne onfoh ðu næfre médsceattum, forðon hie ablendað ful óft wisra monna geðoht 7 hiora word onwendað.

[El. 47] Þam elðeodegan 7 utan cumenan ne læt ðu no uncuðlice wið hine, ne mid nanum unryhtum þu hine ne drece.

[El. 48] Ne swergen ge næfre under hæðne godas, ne on nanum ðingum ne cleopien ge to him.

[El. 49] Þis sindan ða domas þe se ælmihtega God self sprecende wæs to Moyse 7 him bebead to healdanne. 7 siððan se áncenneda Dryhtnes sunu, ure God, þæt is hælend Crist, on middangeard cwom, he cwæð, ðæt he ne come no ðas bebodu to brecanne ne to forbeodanne, ac mid eallum godum to ecanne; 7 mildheortnesse 7 eaðmodnesse he lærde.

[El. 49.1] Ða æfter his ðrowunge, ær þam þe his apostolas tofarene wæron geond ealle eorðan to læranne, 7 þa giet ða hie ætgædere wæron, monega hæðena ðeoda hie to Gode gecerdon. Þa hie ealle ætsomne wæron, hie sendan ærendwrecan to Antiohhia 7 to Syrie, Cristes æ to læranne.

[El. 49.2] Þa hie ða ongeaton, þæt him ne speow, ða sendon hie ærendgewrit to him. Þis is ðonne þæt ærendgewrit þe ða apostolas sendon ealle to Antiohhia 7 to Syria 7 to Cilicia, ða sint nu of hæðenum ðeodum to Criste gecirde.

[El. 49.3] ‘Ða apostolas 7 þa eldran broðor hælo eow wyscað; 7 we éow cyðað, þæt we geascodon, þæt ure geferan sume mid urum wordum to eow comon 7 eow hefigran [wisan budon] to healdanne þonne we him budon, 7 eow to swiðe gedwealdon mid ðam mannigfealdum gebodum, 7 eowra sawla ma forhwerfdon þonne hie geryhton. Ða gesomnodon we us ymb ðæt, 7 us eallum gelicode ða, þæt we sendon Paulus 7 Barnaban; ða men wilniað hiora sawla sellan for Dryhtnes naman.

[El. 49.4] Mid him we sendon Iudam 7 Silam, þæt eow þæt ilce seccgen.

[El. 49.5] Þæm halgan Gaste wæs geðuht 7 ús, þæt we nane byrðenne on eow settan noldon ofer þæt ðe eow nedðearf wæs to healdanne: þæt [is] ðonne, þæt ge forberen, þæt ge deofolgeld ne weorðien, ne blod ne ðicggen ne asmorod, 7 from diernum geligerum; 7 þæt ge willen, þæt oðre men eow ne don, ne doð ge ðæt oþrum monnum.

[El. 49.6] Of ðissum anum dome mon mæg geðencean, þæt he æghwelcne on ryht gedemeð; ne ðearf he nanra domboca oþerra. Geðence he, þæt he nanum men ne deme þæt he nolde ðæt he him demde, gif he ðone dóm ofer hine sohte.

[El. 49.7] Siððan ðæt þa gelamp, þæt monega ðeoda Cristes geleafan onfengon, þa wurdon monega seonoðas geond ealne middangeard gegaderode, 7 eac swa geond Angelcyn, siððan hie Cristes geleafan onfengon, halegra biscepa 7 éac oðerra geðungenra witena; hie ða gesetton, for ðære mildheortnesse þe Crist lærde, æt mæstra hwelcre misdæde þætte ða weoruldhlafordas moston mid hiora leafan buton synne æt þam forman gylte þære fiohbote ónfon, þe hie ða gesettan; buton æt hlafordsearwe hie nane mildheortnesse ne dorston gecweðan, forþam ðe God ælmihtig þam nane ne gedemde þe hine oferhogdon, ne Crist Godes sunu þam nane ne gedemde þe hine to deaðe sealde, 7 he bebead þone hlaford lufian swa hine.

[El. 49.8] Hie ða on monegum senoðum monegra menniscra misdæda bote gesetton, 7 on monega senoðbéc hie writan, hwær anne dom hwær oþerne.

[El. 49.9] Ic ða Ælfred cyning þás togædere gegaderode 7 awritan het, monege þara þe ure foregengan heoldon, ða ðe me licodon; 7 manege þara þe me ne licodon ic áwearp mid minra witena geðeahte, 7 on oðre wisan bebead to healdanne. Forðam ic ne dorste geðristlæcan þara minra awuht fela on gewrit settan, forðam me wæs uncuð, hwæt þæs ðam lician wolde ðe æfter ús wæren. Ac ða ðe ic gemette awðer oððe on Ines dæge, mines mæges, oððe on Offan Mercna cyninges oððe on Æþelbryhtes, þe ærest fulluhte onfeng on Angelcynne, þa ðe me ryhtoste ðuhton, ic þa heron gegaderode, 7 þa oðre forlét.

[El. 49.10] Ic ða Ælfred Westseaxna cyning eallum minnum witum, þas geeowde, 7 hie ða cwædon, þæt him þæt licode eallum to healdanne.