folc-land
Morphological Analysis
Wordclass: Noun
Gender: Neuter
In the OE text, the length is:indicated by acute accentsindicated by macronsnot indicated.
folc-land
-lond, es; n. [folc folk, land land] . I. the land of the folk or people. It was the property of the community. It might be occupied in common, or possessed in severalty; and, in the latter case, it was probably parcelled out to individuals in the folc-gemót, q. v. or court of the district, and the grant sanctioned by the freemen who were there present. While it continued to be folc-land, it could not be alienated in perpetuity; and, therefore, on the expiration of the term for which it had been granted, it reverted to the community, and was again distributed by the same authority. Spelman describes folc-land as 'terra pŏpŭlāris, quæ jūre commūni possĭdētur — sĭne scripto,' Gloss. Folcland. In another place he distinguishes it accurately from bóc-land: 'Prædia Saxŏnes duplĭci tĭtŭlo possĭdēbant; vel scripti auctōrĭtāte, quod bóc-land vŏcābant, vel pŏpŭli testĭmōnio, quod folc-land dixēre,' Id. Bocland Eác we cwǽdon hwæs se wyrðe wǽre ðe óðrum ryhtes wyrnde, áðor oððe on bóc-lande oððe on folc-lande, and ðæt he him geándagode of ðam folc-lande, hwonne he him riht worhte befóran ðam geréfan. Gif he ðonne nán riht næfde ne on bóc-lande ne on folc-lande, ðæt se wǽre ðe rihtes wyrnde scyldig xxx scillinga wið ðone cyning; and æt óðrum cyrre, eác swá: æt þriddan cyrre, cyninges oferhýrnesse, ðæt is cxx scillinga, búton he ǽr geswíce also we have ordained of what he were worthy who denied justice to another, either in book-land or in folk-land, and that he should give him a term respecting the folk-land, when he should do him justice before the reeve. But if he had no right either to the book-land or to the folk-land, that he who denied the right should be liable in 30 shillings to the king; and for the second offence, the like: for the third offence, the king's penalty, that is, 120 shillings, unless he previously desist, L. Ed. 2; Th. i. 160, 10-17. All lands, whether bóc-land or folc-land, were subject to the Trĭnōda Necessĭtas. Under this denomination are comprised three distinct imposts, to which all landed possessions, not excepting those of the church, were subject, viz [a] Brycg-bó;t for keeping the bridges, and highways in repair. [b] Burh-bót for keeping the burghs, or fortresses, in an efficient state of defence, [c] Fyrd a contribution for maintaining the military and naval force of the kingdom Gif hwá Burh-bóte, oððe Brycg-bóte, oððe Fyrd-fare forsitte; gebáte mid hund-twelftigum scillinga ðam cyningce on Engla lage, and on Dena lage, swá hit ǽr stód if any one neglect Burh-bót, or Brycg-bót, or Fyrd-fare; let him make amends with one hundred and twenty shillings to the king by English law, and by Danish law, as it formerly stood, L. C. S. 66; Th. i. 410, 8-10. Þegenes lagu is, ðæt he sý his bóc-rihtes wyrðe, and ðæt he þreó þinc of his lande dó, fyrd-færeld, and burh-bóte, and brycg-geweorc [MS. bryc-] thane's law is, that he be worthy to make his will, and that he perform three things for his land, military service, repairs of fortresses, and of bridges, L. R. S. 1; Th. i. 432, 1-3. II. Folk-land was subject to many burthens and exactions from which book-land was exempt. The possessors of folk-land were bound to assist in the reparation of royal vills, and in other public works. They were liable to have travellers and others quartered on them for subsistence. They were required to give hospitality to kings and great men in their progress through the country, to furnish them with carriages and relays of horses, and to extend the same assistance to their messengers, followers, and servants, and even to the persons who had charge of their hawks, horses, and hounds. Such at least are the burthens from which lands are liberated when converted by charter into book-land. 2. Folk-land might be held by freemen of all ranks and conditions. It is a mistake to imagine with Lambarde, Spelman, and a host of antiquaries, that it was possessed by the common people only. Still less is Blackstone to be credited, when, trusting to Somner, he tells us it was land held in villenage by people in a state of downright servitude, belonging, both they and their children and effects, to the lord of the soil, like the rest of the cattle or stock upon the land. [Blackstone, ii. 92.] — A deed published by Lye, exposes the error of these representations. [Anglo-Saxon Dict., App. ii. 2.] Alfred, a nobleman of the highest rank, possessed of great estates in book-land, beseeches King Alfred, in his will, to continue his folk-land to his son, Æthelwald; and if that favour cannot be obtained, he bequeaths, in lieu of it, to his son, who appears to have been illegitimate, ten hides of book-land at one place, or seven at another. From this document it follows, first, that folk-land was held by persons of rank; secondly, that an estate of folk-land was of such value, that seven, or even ten hides of book-land were not considered as more than equivalent to it; and, lastly, that it was a life-estate, not devisable by will, but in the opinion of the testator, at the disposal of the king, when by his own death it was vacated. 3. It appears also from this document, that the same person might hold estates both in book-land and in folk-land; that is, he might possess an estate of inheritance of which he had the complete disposal, unless in so far as it was limited by settlement; and with it he might possess an estate for life, revertible to the public after his decease. In the latter times of the Anglo-Saxon government it is probable there were few persons of condition who had not estates of both descriptions. Every one was desirous to have grants of folk-land, and to convert as much of it as possible into book-land. Money was given and favour exhausted for that purpose. 4. In many Saxon wills we find petitions similar to that of Alfred; but in none of them is the character of the land, which could not be disposed of without consent of the king, described with the same precision. In some wills, the testator bequeaths his land as he pleases, without asking leave of any one [Somner's Gavelkind, 88, 211; Hickes, Pref. xxxii; Diss. Epist. 29, 54, 55, 59; Madox, Formul. 395] ; in others he earnestly beseeches the king that his will may stand, and then declares his intentions with respect to the distribution of his property [Lambarde, Kent, 540; Hickes, Diss. Epist. 54; Gale, i. 457; Lye's Append. ii. 1, 5; Heming. 40] ;— and in one instance he makes an absolute bequest of the greater part of his lands, but solicits the king's consent to the disposal of a small part of his estate [Hickes, Diss. Epist. 62.] There can be no doubt that book-land was devisable by will, unless where its descent had been determined by settlement; and a presumption, therefore, arises, that where the consent of the king was necessary, the land devised was not book-land, but folk-land. If this inference be admitted, the case of Alfred will not be a solitary instance, but common to many of the principal Saxon nobility. 5. That folk-lands were assignable to the thegns, or military servants of the state, as the stipend or reward for their services, is clearly indicated in the celebrated letter of Bede to Archbishop Ecgbert [Smith's Bede, 305-312] . In that letter, which throws so much light on the internal state of Northumberland, the venerable author complains of the improvident grants to monasteries, which had impoverished the government, and lefe no lands for the soldiers and retainers of the secular authorities, on whom the defence of the country must necessarily depend. He laments the mistaken prodigality, and expresses his fears that there will be soon a deficiency of military men to repel invasion, no place being left where they can obtain possessions to maintain them suitably to their condition. It is evident from these complaints, that the lands so lavishly bestowed on the church had been formerly the property of the public, and at the disposal of the government. If they had been book-lands, it could have made no difference to the state whether they belonged to the church or to individuals, since in both cases they were beyond its control, and in both cases were subject to the usual obligations of military service. But if they formed part of the folk-land, or property of the public, it is easy to conceive how their conversion into book-land must have weakened the state, by lessening the fund out of which its military servants were to be provided. 6. A charter of the eighth century conveys to the see of Rochester certain lands on the Medway, as they had been formerly possessed by the chiefs and companions of the Kentish kings. [Text. Roffens. 72, edit. Hearne; Kemble, Cod. Dipl. No. cxi.] In this instance folk-land, which had been appropriated to the military service of the state, appears to have been converted into book-land, and given to the church, L. Th. ii. Glossary, Folc-land: Sandys' Gavel. 97. v. Stubbs' Const. Hist, folk-land, v. fyrd, scip-fyrd, bóc-land.
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