The laws are drawn from a manuscript written during the reign of Henry I and is very probably a compilation of separate enactments or decrees made by his father William I during the course of his reign.

In many ways it is less a legal document and more a statement of intent by William on how he intends to govern his new acquisition ; one faith in Christ to be kept ever inviolate, peace and security are to be preserved, all are to swear an oath of loyalty and William promises to maintain the laws of England as established by Edward the Confessor etc.

Mixed in the with these statments are some surprisingly specific rules regarding the sale of cattle (Law 5) and the penalties to be applied for failing to appear in court(Law 8). Notable are the sixth law contains the very first mention of trial by combat in English Law and the tenth law which appears to be a prohibition of capital punishment. This might have been the intention but this does not appear to have prevented William or any other succeeding king from executing whoever they thought necessary. The proffered alternative of blinding and castration also proved a very popular form of punishment as well.

The Laws of William the Conqueror

Here is set down what William, king of the English, established in consultation with his magnates after the conquest of England:

1. First that above all things he wishes one God to be revered throughout his whole realm, one faith in Christ to be kept ever inviolate, and peace and security to be preserved between English and Normans.
2. We decree also that every freeman shall affirm by oath and compact that he will be loyal to king William both within and without England, that he will preserve with him his lands and honour with all fidelity and defend him against his enemies.
3. I will, moreover, that all the men I have brought with me, or who have come after me, shall be protected by my peace and shall dwell in quiet. And if any one of them shall be slain, let the lord of his murderer seize him within five days, if he can; but if he cannot, let him pay me forty-six marks of silver so long as his substance avails. And when his substance is exhausted, let the whole hundred in which the murder took place pay what remains in common.
4. And let every Frenchman who, in the time of king Edward, my kinsman, was a sharer in the customs of the English, pay what they call "scot and lot", according to the laws of the English. This decree was ordained in the city of Gloucester.
5. We forbid also that any live cattle shall be bought or sold for money except within cities, and this shall be done before three faithful witnesses; nor even anything old without surety and warrant. But if anyone shall do otherwise, let him pay once, and afterwards a second time for a fine.
6. It was decreed there that if a Frenchman shall charge an Englishman with perjury or murder or theft or homicide or "ran", as the English call open rapine which cannot be denied, the Englishman may defend himself, as he shall prefer, either by the ordeal of hot iron or by wager of battle. But if the Englishman be infirm, let him find another who will take his place. If one of them shall be vanquished, he shall pay a fine of forty shillings to the king. If an Englishman shall charge a Frenchman and be unwilling to prove his accusation either by ordeal or by wager of battle, I will, nevertheless, that the Frenchman shall acquit himself by a valid oath.
7. This also I command and will, that all shall have and hold the law of the king Edward in respect of their lands and all their posessions, with the addition of those decrees I have ordained for the welfare of the English people.
8. Every man who wishes to be considered a freeman shall be in pledge so that his surety shall hold him and hand him over to justice if he shall offend in any way. And if any such shall escape, let his sureties see to it that they pay forthwith what is charge against him, and let them clear themselves of any complicity in his escape. Let recourse be had to the hundred and shire courts as our predecessors decreed. And those who ought of right to come and are unwilling to appear, shall be summoned once; and if for the second time they refuse to come, one ox shall be taken from them, and they shall be summoned a third time. And if they do not come the third time, a second ox shall be taken from them. But if they do not come the fourth summons, the man who is unwilling to come shall forfeit from his goods the amount of the charge against him -- ceapgeld as it is called -- and in addition to this a fine to the king.
9. I prohibit the sale of any man by another outside the country on pain of a fine to be paid in full to me.
10. I also forbid that anyone shall be slain or hanged for any fault, but let his eyes be put out and let him be castrated. And this command shall not be violated under pain of a fine in full to me.

The above text is available at dozens of different locations on the web. Only one the Avalon Project at quotes a source for the text as

Henderson, Ernest F. Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages (London : George Bell and Sons, 1896. )

Mr Henderson is also presumably responsible for its translation from the original Latin or French, since the Normans of course, did not write legal documents in anything as primitive as Old English and certainly not in modern English.

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