On Friþ and Grið

Foremost among the freedoms that a Théodsman enjoys is that of Théodish friþ.  As laid out by Bosworth, friþ may be said to be “peace, freedom from molestation, security guaranteed by law to those under special protection.” Bosworth, however, speaks only to the betokening of friþ rather than the thing itself.  What is meant then when Théodsmen speak of the friþ they share within their fellowships?

A word wended from the Proto-Germanic *friþuz, and even deeper from the Proto-Indo-European *prāy-, *prēy– ‎(“like, love”), friþ begirdles a great many things, all of which find their root within the innangeard.  The innangeard, or inner-yard, is the Théodish fellowship itself, those beholden by leave to one another through oath and in Right Good Will.  Beyond its kenningwise hedge, there is the útangeard, that which it outside the yard, outside the fellowship.

The útangeard is not utterly evil, as there is good to be found within it, yet the benefits of fellowship can hardly be counted upon when one is wandering about on foreign shores or through strange woods. It is only in the innangeard that Free Right is afforded, þing is owed, thew is observed, Right Good Will is counted upon, and mund, the hand and protection of the lord, rightfully reaches.  As spoken of in the Anglo-Saxon Maxims,

Dull beeth he who knows not his lord.     Thus oft to him cometh death un-Thinged.
Happy beeth he who in his homeland thrives.      Wretched is he whose friends betray him.
–   Maxims I, 35,37

Friþ then is the freedom, rights, and peace owed to a Théodsman by his place within the innangeard.  To break the friþ of a Théodish fellowship is a grave sin.  Within the Anglo-Saxon guilds of yore, the man who broke the guild’s friþ owed his entrance fee, along with shild, to hold onto his guildship.

There is, however, a freedom and mund given at times to those who are outside of a Théodish fellowship.  Such a friþ is not friþ at all but rather grið.  As lain out by Bosworth, grið is “peace limited to place or time, truce, protection, security, safety.”  Grið is then a withdrawable friþ or one held for an agreed upon time.  The guest-right that an útandweller might enjoy at a Théodish faining is a matter of grið.  Likewise, two fellowships who agree to work together toward some deed may be said to be in grið.   Yet, between Théodish fellowships, grið is a fickle friþ, a truce best bulwarked through the wrixiling of hostages or, better yet, by wedded bonds.

About Þórbeorht Línléah

Ealdorblótere (chief priest) at Whitthenge Heall of the Ealdríce, an Anglo-Saxon Théodish fellowship. Author of Of Ghosts and Godpoles: Theodish Essays Pertaining to the Reconstruction of Saxon Heathen Belief, Both Old and Anglo (2014). Author of Þæt Ealdríce’s Hálgungbóc: The Théodish Liturgy of Þæt Ealdríce (2015, 2016). Þórbeorht resides in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Eþelwynn and two daughters.
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