In elder Frankish times, the Litus was a particularily complex social moniker ascribed to a very loose group of individuals which repeatedly fail to be categorized in a well defined social ranked system. They were a “class” of people somewhere between the servile and manumitted or free Franks and beyond applications of certain werguild or leodis to their person, the duties and responsibilities remain murky. It seems at best that the term Litus was a vestige of Roman Civil Law that was being applied on a case-by-case scenario at the discretion of local lawmakers.
That said, we do know that the Litus was not wholly free and was equally not wholly enslaved, thus those categorized as such could clearly not aspire to be granted a comital nor a ducate. Neither would they have been reduced to a form of wanton chattel to be bought or sold at the whim of their lord. We do know as well that they were “tied” to the landholdings of their lords and did not specifically travel with the domain of said lord upon moving to another local. This provides us with enough information that we can determine that the Litus was in an obligatory bond to the Kuning, protected by the local official and worked the land of his lord and enjoyed a life that was closer to that of the tenant farmer/craftsman. It would also seem, from legal evidence that the Litus was responsible with the fulfilling of local obligations to the Kuning (or at one time the Bishop) through the fulfillment of the polyptychs such as the related classifications of Coloni, Tributari or Censuales.
In our own religious pursuit of Thia Frankisk Aldsido, the Litus is understood as being a person of intrinsic worth to their region. They are intimately familiar with the local geo-socio-econo-political environment. As being a person of intrinsic worth, it is understood that in the reaffirmation of the Declaration of Reversion and the swearing fealty to their lord, they are aligning their worth to that of the Farbond and to that of the Kuning as a whole.
The Litus receives a festuca (an alder rod) which is rough, denuded and of no beauty save its utility in convening the real share they have in the allodium francorum. The festuca is cut from a member of the alnus family and is to be cut the length of their lord’s cubit. The Litus, has a minor share in the tradition, but cannot impart further instruction or improvement upon that tradition beyond agreeing to protect what already is. In our noble parlance, they are : “as though a thrown axe, well wielded and furthermore as though a shield, well defending of foreign blows against this inheritance.”
The Litus cannot affect the allodium as they have not obtained their “kwik”. Kwiknussi, or liveliness does not convey the actual “life-force” of a Frank, rather it is the “executive force” through right that allows what one decrees and does to be accepted by the Farbond as “true”. To simplify, one has a dividend in the tradition, based upon their investment, but lack a deciding vote until their worth is agreed to be in line with that of the rest of the Farbond (by their lord, be they Gravio or Dux).
There is recorded a formal phrase in the older sources by which a Litus is made “(full) free”:
“Matho thi afrio lito” (To you I say, you are free (litus))
There is another formula which has been recorded which demonstrates manumission by a thrown denarius:
“Because the illustrious man X freed his slave named Y by his hand in our presence, by throwing a denarius according to the Salic Law, we confirm his manumission by our present charter. And we order that from now on, in the same way as the other tenants known to have been freed from the yoke of servitude in the presence of princes by this legal title, the said Y with full confirmation in God’s name by our order, without anyone making claims against him, may be able to remain free and secure for all time by God’s grace and ours.”
As noted above the Litus is not a slave, but the title above seems to make the distinction between the slave and the half-free somewhat confused. At any rate, with regards to TFA in our age, the half-free Litus equally shall enjoy their full freedom by way of their festuca being elevated to that of an aureum when that time comes (as decided together, by way of the lord).
On the duties of the Litus in TFA:
- Uphold and defend the tradition
- Provide counsel to their lord
- Learn the duties of a lord
- Be an exceptional hêmahêto
- Immerse themselves in their local culture
- Provide the framework of cultus to local wîhta
- Perform offerings to those wîhta
Litus is derived from a Vulgar Latin form of the OFrk *lât (serf) and is further derived from the PGmc *lētaz (bondsman). The PGmc is in turn ultimately from the PIE *leh₁d- (to let go, release). As such it appears that although the word itself means to have something bound to another, it is intrinsically identified as being a temporary affair and such a bond is to be allowed leave.
In a TFA perspective, the bond between the Litus and the Gravio/Dux, although temporary, gives way to the deeper, if not freer bond given up to the Kuning, which forms the foundation of the Regnum Francorum Novum as a lawful civic tradition.