Weregild

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Alternative spelling: wergild.

Weregild was a reparational payment usually demanded of a person guilty of homicide, although it could also be demanded in other cases of serious crime. The payment of weregild was an important legal mechanism in early northern European societies, such as those of the Vikings, and Anglo-Saxons; the other common form of legal reparation at this time was blood revenge. The payment was typically made to the family or to the clan.

The size of the weregild in cases of murder was largely conditional upon the social rank of the victim. Thralls and slaves technically commanded no weregild, however it was commonplace to make a nominal payment in the case of a thrall and the value of the slave in such a case.

Weregild was also known to the Celts, who called it ericfine.