The family celebrated in the genealogy is a fundamental element of both British and Anglo-Saxon life. It was the family or kin who defended the accused person in law; it was the threat of force from the family (the threat of feud) which brought the accused person to court, and helped enforce the verdict. If a member of the kin was murdered, the value of that person – wergeld in Old England (‘man-money’) and galanas in Welsh (‘honour-price’) – was paid to the kin by the guilty party. That price was determined by social status, for insular society was very hierarchical. In the earlier English laws of Kent, from the seventh century, the wergeld of an ordinary freeman or ceorl (pronounced ‘churl’) was 100 shillings….An eorlcunde man – that is, a man born to the status of an eorl or noble – was worth 300 shillings.
–Britain in the First Millennium by Edward James
…so, basically, the higher your social status, the more your life was worth.
Yes, I read my old medieval history textbooks for fun. Don’t you?