1.13.2009

Ye Olde Rules of Oleron

I'm still plugging away on a godforsaken task, so I thought I would share...The Rules of Oleron.
 
Written in the Middle Ages for Eleanor of Aquitaine and named for an island off France, the rules served as an early maritime legal code of sorts.  For example, this brutish little barnacle:
 
If a ship or other vessel happens to be lost by striking on some shore, and the mariners thinking to save their lives, reach the shore, in hope of help, and instead thereof it happens, as it often does, that in many places they meet with people more barbarous, cruel, and inhuman than mad dogs, who to gain their monies, apparel, and other goods, do sometimes murder and destroy these poor distressed seamen; in this case, the lord of that country ought to execute justice on such wretches, to punish them as well corporally as pecuniarily, to plunge them in the sea till they be half dead, and then to have them drawn forth out of the sea, and stoned to death.
 
And then there's the punishment prescribed for wicked lords who encouraged their wretched subjects to prey on distressed seamen:
 
If the lord of any place be so barbarous, as not only to permit such inhuman people, but also to maintain and assist them in such villainies, that he may have a share in such wrecks, the said lord shall be apprehended, and all his goods confiscated and sold, in order to make restitution to such as of right it appertaineth; and himself to be fastened to a post or stake in the midst of his own mansion house, which being fired at the four corners, all shall be burnt together, the walls thereof shall be demolished, the stones pulled down, and the place converted into a market place for the sale only of hogs and swine to all posterity.