Blood feuds and vengeance have given way to a system of compensation, including the payment of a "wergild" (literally, "man-money"), to the family of a murder victim. Between 601 and 604, Aethelbert of Kent issues the earliest recorded Anglo-Saxon laws. They are called "dooms," and they typically specify a heavy basic fine as punishment. The amount is then increased depending upon the status of the victim. Stealing from the church, for example, merits a different fine than stealing from the king. In the late 7th century, King Ine of the West Saxons issues dooms that show an increasing focus on controlling violent behavior. Fighting in the house of the king becomes punishable by forfeiture of all property and the possibility of execution.

Dooms of Aethelbert
Betsey Finn, 2000