It is very difficult to write a brief account of any early criminal system which will convey much meaning to any person unfamiliar with the subject. The most fundamental underlying principles of criminal law are so different in all early systems from those with which we are accustomed today, that almost every term or expression used, itself requires an explanation.

England, during the early Norman Conquest, was in the transitory stage from the old system of blood feuds and individual vengeance to the system where all members of the community (at least in theory) submit their wrongs to the decision of the regular tribunals. One of the most striking characteristics of the English criminal law of this period was the procedure known as Outlawry.

Though we must not speculate about a time in which there was no law, the evidence which comes to us from England and elsewhere invites us to think of a time when law was weak, and its weakness was displayed by a ready recourse to outlawry. It could not measure its blows; he who defied it was outside its sphere; he was outlaw. He who breaks the law has gone to war with the community; the community goes to war with him. It is the right and duty of every man to pursue him, to ravage his land, to burn his house, to hunt him down like a wild beast and slay him; for a wild beast he is; not merely is he a 'friendless man,' he is a wolf. Even in the thirteenth century, when outlawry had lost its exterminating character and had become an engine for compelling the contumacious to abide the judgment of the courts, this old state of things was not forgotten; Caput gerat lupinum - in these words the courts decreed outlawry. Even in the nineteenth century the King's right to 'year, day and waste' of the felon's land remained as a memorial of the time when the decree of outlawry was a decree of fire and sword.

8 For an account of the subject of Equity Jurisprudence, see Chapter VIII (Equity Jurisprudence. Section 73. Rigidity Of The Common Law) and also the subject of Equity Jurisprudence.

"A ready recourse to outlawry is, we are told, one of the tests by which the relative barbarousness of various bodies of ancient law may be measured. Gradually law learns how to inflict punishment with a discriminating hand. In this respect some of the Scandinavian codes, though of comparatively recent date, seem to represent an earlier stage than any to which our Anglo-Saxon dooms bear witness; outlawry in them is still the punishment for many even of the smaller deeds of violence. Among our English forefathers, when they were first writing down their customs, outlawry was already reserved for those who were guilty of the worst crimes." 9

9 Pollock and Maitland's History of English Law, Volume U, pages 447-448, First Edition.

It is during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that torts and crimes became separate. Money payments in atonement for crimes still continued. The fines for the greater offenses gradually became so high as to mean being sold into slavery, for the poorer classes. Gradually a distinction began to be made between those crimes for which money-payment could be accepted and those for which it could not. We find here the beginning of the distinction between felonies and misdemeanors. Capital punishment was abolished by William the Conqueror, but was soon restored.