Kings and Law

John Hudson

in The Oxford History of the Laws of England

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780198260301
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740640 | DOI:

Series: The Oxford History of the Laws of England

Kings and Law

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The history of the laws of England begins before England was a political entity. King Alfred defeated the Danes who were invading his kingdom of Wessex in the last decades of the ninth century. In the first half of the tenth, his successors, through military and other means, asserted their control over the rest of England. They therefore brought under their power a population upon which Scandinavian settlement had had considerable influence, although it remains uncertain how numerous the Scandinavian settlers were. Then, particularly in the reign of King Edgar (d. 975), king and leading churchmen co-operated in a movement of Church reform, particularly characterised by the promotion of Benedictine monasticism. Kingship was also notable for its administrative power, in judicial matters, and in financial ones. Yet despite such administrative power, internal political divisions continued and the realm was conquered twice by external invaders, Swein and Cnut of Denmark in 1013–16 and William of Normandy in 1066.

Keywords: English law; history of law; King Alfred; Scandinavian settlers; King Edgar; Benedictine monasticism; kingship

Chapter.  13241 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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