The Origin of BlackMail

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“Blackmail” has its roots within the early 16th century, first utilized by English farmers dwelling on the England/Scotland border. It derives from the Middle English phrase “male” which itself is assumed to derive from the Old English word “mal”. In Old English “Mal” is described as thus: “lawsuit, terms, bargaining, agreement”.

Over time, the phrase “Mal” turned “Male” which in Middle English roughly translated to both “Hire” or “Tribute”. As such, the lease paid by a farmer dwelling on the Scottish border was often called “Silver Hire/Mail” as a result of it was usually paid in silver. This gave rise to “White Cash” or “White Hire”, and finally “whitemail”.

When Scottish chieftains (and varied brigands) observed all these properly to do farmers going about their enterprise with out somebody threatening them for cash, they determined to start out threatening them for cash in return for not razing their farm to the bottom and destroying all their livestock. These forcing the tribute would additionally then provide their safety to the farmers from others who may attempt one thing comparable.

Farmers nearly instantly started referring to this secondary lease they have been being compelled to pay as “black lease” which when you’ve been paying consideration was then known as “blackmail”.

Regardless of the case, in 1814, the Scottish playwright, Sir Walter Scott gave the world maybe essentially the most detailed clarification of what blackmail again in these days entailed. In Scott’s historic novel Waverley, blackmail (written then as “black-mail”) is described as follows.

A type of protection-money that Low-Nation gents and heritors,
mendacity close to the Highlands, pay to some Highland chief, that he might neither
do them hurt himself, nor endure it to be executed to them by others

Scott moreover mentions that if a person paying this security money entails damage or suffered a loss by the palms of 1 different raider, the actual individual they’ve been paying would endeavour to cowl their losses, usually by stealing replacements from any individual who wasn’t paying them security money.


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