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frankpledge

frankpledge was a form of collective responsibility for good conduct, whereby every member of a tithing, or group of ten, was answerable for the good behaviour of the others, on pain of fine or amercement. Some elements were to be found in Anglo-Saxon and Danish England, but it developed after the Norman Conquest, perhaps to give some security to individual Normans in a hostile land. Sheriffs were instructed to hold twice-yearly meetings to ensure that all persons required to be in tithings had joined them. Individual lords bade for the right to supervise tithings in the view of frankpledge, which added to both their power and profit. There were parts of England where the system never operated, particularly in the north, and by the 15th cent. it was moribund.

J. A. Cannon

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frankpledge

frankpledge system by which each member of a tithing was responsible for every other. XV. — law L. franciplegium, latinization of AN. frauncplege, f. franc, FRANK + plege PLEDGE, mistranslation of OE., friðborh peace-pledge (frið, f. *frī- love, as in FRIEND), through the corrupt forms freo-, friborh, in which the first element was identified with free.

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