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Kingship, Legislation and Power in Anglo-Saxon England

Kingship, Legislation and Power in Anglo-Saxon England

Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Kingship, Legislation and Power in Anglo-Saxon England
    Book Description:

    The essays collected here focus on how Anglo-Saxon royal authority was expressed and disseminated, through laws, delegation, relationships between monarch and Church, and between monarchs at times of multiple kingships and changing power ratios. Specific topics include the importance of kings in consolidating the English "nation"; the development of witnesses as agents of the king's authority; the posthumous power of monarchs; how ceremonial occasions were used for propaganda reinforcing heirarchic, but mutually beneficial, kingships; the implications of Ine's lawcode; and the language of legislation when English kings were ruling previously independent territories, and the delegation of local rule. The volume also includes a groundbreaking article by Simon Keynes on Anglo-Saxon charters, looking at the origins of written records, the issuing of royal diplomas and the process, circumstances, performance and function of production of records. Gale R. Owen-Crocker is Professor of Anglo-Saxon Culture at the University of Manchester. Contributors: Ann Williams, Alexander R. Rumble, Carole Hough, Andrew Rabin, Barbara Yorke, Ryan Lavelle, Alaric Trousdale

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-188-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. viii-viii)
  6. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Gale R. Owen-Crocker
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The papers in this volume are based on some of those given at a conference hosted by the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies in April 2006, entitled ‘Royal Authority: Kingship and Power in Anglo-Saxon England’.¹ A volume devoted to this subject is welcome for, despite numerous earlier studies of kingship and of individual kings, it remains easy for students of the Old English period to take kings and their office for granted.² There they are, at the pinnacle of their societies, unquestioned and unquestionable. Contemporaries might have opinions on the character and efficiency of particular kings, though these (if not...

  9. PART I

    • 1 Church Councils, Royal Assemblies, and Anglo-Saxon Royal Diplomas
      (pp. 17-182)

      From the earliest days of kingship and royal government in Anglo-Saxon England, the context in which kings were most likely to have been observed by their people displaying their status, dispensing their treasure and exercising their power, was at an assembly. The spectacle must have been as much a part of any such occasion as whatever business might have been conducted, or ceremonies performed. No less important, one imagines, was the impression made as the king and his entourage moved from one place to another, and from another place to the next assembly. Nor should one underestimate the opportunities which...

  10. PART II

    • 2 Anglo-Saxon Royal Archives: Their Nature, Extent, Survival and Loss
      (pp. 185-200)

      This paper is intended to promote a more balanced view of the extent of the royal archives kept by and for Anglo-Saxon kings than either the national land registry postulated by Cyril Hart in 1970 or the minimalist entity suggested by Michael Clanchy in 1979 and 1993. Hart envisaged a centralized registry of title in Wessex from 854 onwards, postulating ‘first that the later Anglo-Saxon kings kept copies of the royal landbooks issued by them, and secondly that this royal collection was housed at Winchester, at least during the last century of the Anglo-Saxon state’.¹ In marked contrast, Clanchy has...

    • 3 Naming and Royal Authority in Anglo-Saxon Law
      (pp. 201-218)

      Throughout most of the period from which documentary records survive, Anglo-Saxon kingship is closely associated with law-giving.² The earliest text in Old English is the law-code issued by Æthelberht I of Kent (c. 580–616) towards the end of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century, inaugurating a tradition of written legislation which continued up until the eleventh.³ Other regional laws survive from the reigns of Æthelberht’s successors Hlothhere (673/4–685), Eadric (685–686) and Wihtred (691–725), and from that of the West Saxon king Ine (688–725/6). The first national law-code was issued by Alfred the...

    • 4 Witnessing Kingship: Royal Power and the Legal Subject in the Old English Laws
      (pp. 219-236)

      The role played by written law in expanding Anglo-Saxon royal authority has been the subject of considerable scholarly debate since Patrick Wormald’s 1977 article, ‘Lex scripta and verbum regis: legislation and Germanic kingship from Euric to Cnut’. In that essay, Wormald argued that early law-codes provide ‘direct evidence for the image which Germanic kings and their advisors, Roman or clerical, wished to project of themselves and their people: an image of king and people as heirs to the Roman emperors, as counterparts to the children of Israel, or as bound together in respect for the traditions of a tribal past’.¹...

    • 5 The Burial of Kings in Anglo-Saxon England
      (pp. 237-258)

      We have a complete record of the places of burial of the kings of Wessex and England from the reign of Æthelwulf (839–58) onwards (Table 5.1).¹ For the earlier historic period the sequences are incomplete (Table 5.2), but we are still more likely to know where a king was buried than where he was born or married. Though most of the tombs themselves and their contents have been lost,² some have been recovered through excavation and some written accounts give very precise details about the location of a king’s burial, as will become apparent in the discussion below. There...

    • 6 Ine 70.1 and Royal Provision in Anglo-Saxon Wessex
      (pp. 259-274)

      Since the publication of John Mitchell Kemble’s Saxons in England in 1848, the concept of the itinerant ruler has been long acknowledged, if not always fully appreciated, as a major feature of Anglo-Saxon kingship.² A practice which was hardly unique amongst their European contemporaries and arguably emergent from notions of what was practicable in the post-Roman West for the victualling of the king and his followers, in Anglo-Saxon England this took the shape of feorm, a term which referred to the render of goods and entertainment.³ Proximity and the ability of the king to be seen at known times was...

    • 7 Being Everywhere at Once: Delegation and Royal Authority in Late Anglo-Saxon England
      (pp. 275-296)

      In the second quarter of the tenth century the kings of England were still developing the ways and means by which they would organize and administrate the former kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and the areas of the Danelaw not separately, but jointly. As one scholar has noted of the period, echoing no doubt many others, ‘We should dearly like to know, but do not, how far these areas had been integrated within the machinery of West Saxon government.’² This essay does not claim to have an answer to this ambiguity, but it would like to consider how kings might...

  11. Index of persons and places
    (pp. 297-306)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 307-307)