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The Witenagemot in the Reign of Edward the Confessor

by (author) Tryggvi J. Oleson

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2019
Legal History, Diplomacy, Comparative, Constitutional
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    Publish Date
    Apr 2019
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This work presents a new approach to the problem of the constitution of the Witenagemot, and one which has produced interesting and valuable results. It was undertaken because no detailed and exhaustive study of the Witenagemot at a given moment of the Anglo-Saxon period exists, and, indeed, very little of any consequence had been written on the Witan since Liebermann's The National Assembly in the Anglo-Saxon Period appeared in 1913.


The thesis of the work is that the Witenagemon was simply a loose assembly of great prelates and magnates, whom the king chose to consult. No qualifications were precisely defined, and a Witenagemot as any occasion on which the king consulted any member, large or small, of magnates. The composition of the Witenagemot and the functions of the Witan are treated at length.


This work will appeal to all students and scholars working in the field of English Constitutional History. It should also be of interest to those working in the field of Diplomatic History, for both the royal and private charters of the reign of the Confessor, witnessed by king and magnates, are dealt with at some length, with a consideration of their individual authenticity, and an attempt has been made to identify and furnish biographical notes on all witnesses. The evidence supplied by the documents of the reign has, where possible, been brought into relation with that furnished by Doniesday Book. Scandinavian parallels and contrasts are also examined.

About the author

TRYGGVI J. OLESON was born in Glenboro, Manitoba. He received his M.A. in Classics from the University of Manitoba and his Ph.D. in Mediaeval History from the University of Toronto. He has taught History at the University of Bitish Columbia, United College, and the Unviersity of Manitoba, where he is Associate Professor of History. Professor Oleson is the Editor of Volumes IV-V of Saga Islandinga i Vesturheimi (History of the Icelanders int he Western Hemisphere).

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