manuscript

Welsh law

The law of Hywel was based on tradition rather than king-made, and is believed to have been adapted from existing laws.

Some aspects probably predated his lifetime. The law did not overly stress the power of the crown, but mostly aimed to protect the people of Wales.

According to latter accounts, the codification of Hywel's law of Wales took place at Hendy-gwyn (Whitland), though the factual basis of this has been disputed.

The earliest manuscripts detailing the law date from the early to mid 13th century. However, since they were continually revised and updated, these manuscripts are not reliable indicators of 10th century law.

Nonetheless, the lawbooks contain fascinating details about life in early medieval Wales, and for centuries to come, living under the law of Hywel would be one of the definitions of the Welsh people.


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