- From the time of Alfred to that of Cnut and later, hostages were taken and given. They were intended to be a sign of good faith regarding a treaty; their death resulted from any breach. A hostage could be a child or a knight of some importance. Some were treated well, others were not. Some were killed; others were mutilated and then returned.
Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases. Christopher Coredon with Ann Williams.
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