But what needs to be made even is not the amount of pain felt or some idea of cosmic justice, but rather affirmation of a person's value with respect to a cultural measure of value, such as wergeld
, or the worth of a person determined by a value such as honor.
Another theory traces the origins of the modern bail system to the early English concept of wergeld
. (22) Under the ancient system of wergeld
, someone who allegedly committed a wrong against another person was required "to guarantee a payment to reimburse that wrong, should he later be found at fault." (23) The person who allegedly committed the wrong could find a surety, who would assure the victim that the accused would pay his wergeld
if fault were found.
There has traditionally been a "wergeld
"(188) aspect to personal injury damages, a sense that a tortfeasor owes compensation not just for medical bills, but for lost dignity, freedom, and self-determination.(189) These harms are now subsumed into "pain and suffering," but this rather demeaning appellation should not obscure the loss of human possibility.
Successful pursuit of an offender resulted in payment of restitution defined by a system of wergeld
or manprice (wer).
If a person should kill a man thus skilled, if he should have no kinsmen, let [that] person pay half the wergeld
to the king, half to the guild members.
The severity of this violation was extended to the husband the bereaved wife married, since he must forfeit his wergeld
to the king.