In Anglo-Saxon and Germanic law, a price set upon a person's life on the basis of rank and paid as compensation by the family of a slayer to the kindred or lord of a slain person to free the culprit of further punishment or obligation and to prevent a blood feud.
In early Germanic and Anglo-Saxon law, a price paid by a person who has killed another to the family of the person killed, to atone for the killing and avoid reprisals.
(historical, in Germanic law) Blood money, the monetary value assigned to a person, set according to their rank, used to determine the compensation paid by the perpetrator of a crime to the victim in the case of injury or to the victim's kindred in the case of homicide.
(historical, in Germanic law) Compensation thusly determined and paid; a reparative payment.
Origin of wergeld
Middle English wargeldfrom Old English wergeldwermanwī-ro- in Indo-European roots geldpayment
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
From Middle English wergeld, from Old English wergeld (“compensation for a man killed"), from Proto-Germanic*werageldaz (“weregild"), equivalent to wer (“man") +"Ž geld (“payment"). Cognate with GermanWergeld. More at wer, geld.
Wergeld Sentence Examples
He enjoyed a triple wergeld, but had no definite salary, being remunerated by the receipt of certain revenues, a system which contained the germs of discord, on account of the confusion of his public and private 1 The changing language of this epoch speaks of civitates, subsequently of pagi, and later of comitatus (counties).
The third division would consist of the collections of the so-called Pseudo-leges Canuti, the laws of Edward the Confessor, of Henry I., and the great compilation of the Quadripartitus, then of a number of short notices and extracts like the fragments on the "wedding of a wife," on oaths, on ordeals, on the king's peace, on rural customs (Rectitudines singularum personarum), the treatises on the reeve (gerefa) and on the judge (dema), formulae of oaths, notions as to wergeld, &c. A fourth group might be made of the charters, n as they are based on Old English private and public law and supply us with most important materials in regard to it.
The laws of Ine speak of gegildan who help each other pay the wergeld, but it is not entirely certain that they were members of gild fraternities in the later sense.
The thanes' gild at Cambridge afforded help in blood-feuds, and provided for the payment of the wergeld in case a member killed any one.
Among the chief of these must be reckoned the wergeld or " man-price."