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The Origins of the English Parliament, 924-1327$
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J. R. Maddicott

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199585502

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199585502.001.0001

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‘The Witan of the English People’, 924–1066

(p.1) 1 Genesis
The Origins of the English Parliament, 924-1327

J. R. Maddicott (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter charts the evolution of national assemblies from Æthelstan's reign to the Norman Conquest. It shows that these were truly national gatherings, drawing in large numbers of men from all parts of the country. Known by contemporaries as the ‘witan’, they could also be viewed as representative bodies which spoke for the whole nation. They did so frequently and regularly, meeting normally at the great feasts of the church, and acquiring through their regular meetings the characteristics of an institution. They were essentially concerned with the business of government: the discussion of national affairs, legislation, state trials, and royal acts of patronage. But they also served to demonstrate the king's charisma and authority by providing occasions for royal crown‐wearing and display.

Keywords:   assemblies, witan, charisma, crown‐wearing, legislation, patronage, nation

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