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witan


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(from Old English witenagemot, ‘moot’, or meeting, of the king's councillors) The council summoned by the Anglo‐Saxon kings. The meetings of the witan in the 10th and 11th centuries were a formalization of the primitive councils that existed in the early Saxon kingdoms of the 7th century. These formal gatherings of aldermen, thanes, and bishops discussed royal grants of land, church benefices, charters, aspects of taxation, defence and foreign policy, customary law, and the prosecution of traitors. The succession of a king had usually to be acknowledged by the witan.

Subjects: World History.


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