Laws of Hywel Dda online

Last year, the 14th century book, the Laws of Hywel Dda, was purchased at auction by the National Library of Wales and brought home after nearly 300 years in exile in the United States. Now the book is on display at the library in Aberystwyth, and available for all to see online.

The Laws of Hywel Dda (Hywel The Good) were written in the 10th century, creating the country's first uniform legal system. It includes such laws as the following:

  •     Marriage was considered an agreement, not a holy sacrament.
  •     Divorce was permitted by common consent.
  •     There was no punishment for theft - if the sole purpose was to stay alive.
  •     Illegitimate children received the same rights as legitimate sons and daughters.
  •     You were allowed to pick up three things if you found them in the road - a horseshoe, a nail and a penny.