Das Mittelalter 25 (1):150-164 (2020)

Three Kentish laws written in the 7th century mention the places where the men drink.It has already been observed that drinking is not only a feature of a male warrior society, but represents a quasi-juridical institution which enjoys special protection. However, the offences committed during these gatherings and the high fines duly paid can only partly be attributed to a general violation of the king’s and house protection.Behind these laws there is an echo of more specific rituals. The legal character in drinking together, as it emerges in the symbolic offences described and fined in Hloþære and Eadric 8 and 9, has never been explored in the light of the recent works on ritual. The meaning of drinking as a binding moment inside some legal proceedings as well as its specific relation to consent are subject of the following investigation. As the most recent works on ritual show, the binding aspect and the creation of consent are among the major features of ritual. Only inside this discourse can thus be explained the meaning in the act of taking a cup from another where men are drinking and of drawing a weapon without doing any harm. These are two actions in which a boasting character is only an aspect, a superficial feature of a warrior society. The deep legal symbolism of both acts deserves further exploration, in which they prevent the participation of the concerned in a legal ceremony and disturb the building of the consensus.
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DOI 10.1515/mial-2020-0011
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