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Kingship and Consent in Anglo-Saxon England, 871–978
Assemblies and the State in the Early Middle Ages

Part of Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series

  • Date Published: October 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107036536

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  • This engaging study focuses on the role of assemblies in later Anglo-Saxon politics, challenging and nuancing existing models of the late Anglo-Saxon state. Its ten chapters investigate both traditional constitutional aspects of assemblies - who attended these events, where and when they met, and what business they conducted - and the symbolic and representational nature of these gatherings. Levi Roach takes into account important recent work on continental rulership, and argues that assemblies were not a check on kingship in these years, but rather an essential feature of it. In particular, the author highlights the role of symbolic communication at assemblies, arguing that ritual and demonstration were as important in English politics as they were elsewhere in Europe. Far from being exceptional, the methods of rulership employed by English kings look very much like those witnessed elsewhere on the continent, where assemblies and ritual formed an essential part of the political order.

    • The first dedicated treatment of Anglo-Saxon assembly politics since the 1950s
    • Offers a new model of the late Anglo-Saxon state
    • Places English kingship firmly within its continental context
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book by Levi Roach deserves a warm welcome not only as the first monograph to be devoted to historical aspects of pre-Conquest English assemblies since T. J. Oleson's The Witenagemot in the Reign of Edward the Confessor, but also as the first extended treatment of the subject in any form since then.' David Rollason, English Historical Review

    'The last decades have brought new understandings of continental political institutions. It is one of the many virtues of Levi Roach's splendid book that he has read so widely in this revisionist literature on Carolingian and Ottonian political institutions and practices … Given that Roach has addressed so many topics, different readers will inevitably be attracted to different elements in the book. The discussion of the performative elements of assemblies is particularly fine because so thoroughly versed in the Ottonian scholarship.' Geoffrey Koziol, Early Medieval Europe

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107036536
    • length: 316 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 157 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 5 maps 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: assembling consent in ninth- and tenth-century England
    2. Assembly attendance
    3. Meeting places and times of assemblies
    4. Royal charters and assemblies
    5. Legislation and consent: law making and assembly politics
    6. The witan and the settlement of disputes
    7. The 'further business' of the witan
    8. Symbols in context: ritual and demonstration at assemblies
    9. Ritual and reality: the problem of the sources
    10. The role of the witan: celebration and persuasion
    Appendix: meetings of the witan, 871–978.

  • Author

    Levi Roach, University of Exeter
    Levi Roach is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Exeter.

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