Backberend and Handhabend

In Anglo-Saxon law, backberend (also spelled backberende or back-berande) was a term applied to a thief who was found having the stolen goods in his possession.[1] The term is derived from "bearing [a thing] upon the back" and was customarily used with "handhabend".[2][3] Handhabend (also spelled hand-habend or hand-habende) was a term applied to a thief who was found having the stolen goods in his possession. "Handhabend" is derived from "having [a thing] in his hand".[4][3]

The thief himself was a hontfongenethef, meaning "a thief taken with handhabend"; i. e., captured while holding the thing stolen in his hand. [4]

By extension, handhabend and backberend also means the jurisdiction to try a thief caught with the property in question.[4] A thief so caught could be given a trial of a more summary nature.[5] Almost any theft could be a felony, and the death penalty might be applied.[4]

References

  1. Bracton de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliæ 1, 3, tr. 2, c. 32.
  2. Henry C. Black, Black's Law Dictionary, rev. 4th ed. 1968; see also 7th ed.
  3. John Bouvier, A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, J.B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, 15th ed., 1883.
  4. Henry C. Black, Black's Law Dictionary, rev. 4th ed. 1968.
  5. See Laws of Henry I, chap. 59; Laws of Aethelstane, § 6; Fleta, lib. 1, chap. 38, § 1; Britton p. 72; DuCange, Handhabenda.

See also

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