The law had to be declared and applied by the people itself in its communities, while the spokesmen of the people were neither democratic majorities nor individual experts, but a few leading men - the twelve eldest thanes or some similar quorum.
The thanes' gild at Cambridge afforded help in blood-feuds, and provided for the payment of the wergeld in case a member killed any one.
Offences were no longer against the individual and his kin, but against the king's peace, or against the peace of subordinate holders of courts - earls, thanes, barons, bishops and abbots.
Meanwhile Mary's party dwindled away; at a meeting in Perth (23rd of February 1573) her thanes fled from her, and Elizabeth at last reinforced Mary's enemies with men and artillery.
To the reign of Cnut belong the "Constitutiones de Foresta," according to which four thanes were appointed in every province for the administration of justice in all matters connected with the forests; under them were four inferior thanes to whom was committed immediate care of the vert and venison.'
Before the Norman Conquest seven thanes held it of Edward the Confessor as seven manors, but William the Conqueror granted the whole to Ilbert de Lacy, and at the time of the Domesday Survey it was held of him by Ralph Paganel, who is said to have raised Leeds castle, possibly on the site of an earlier fortification.