By Ann Lyon
This booklet offers an available one-volume creation to the improvement of the British structure from its earliest beginnings within the 7th century to the current day. It specializes in the political occasions, and social, non secular and philosophical rules that have formed the constitutions improvement.
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19 Wiotan is generally translated as ‘councillors’. Such references, then and later in the Anglo-Saxon period, led a number of 19th century historians to postulate the existence of a primitive national parliament, or witanagemot, involved in the election of kings, the promulgation of new laws, the making of treaties and the appointment of bishops, and saw it as a 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 In around 655, Peada, son of Penda of Mercia, was ‘placed by his father on the throne of the Middle Angles’ (HE III 21); Oswiu of Northumbria had ‘as a partner in the royal dignity’ his cousin and dynastic rival, Oswin.
When one begins to probe around even the major turning points such as the Norman Conquest, there is at least as much of continuity apparent as there is of change and innovation. Did not Henry I in his Coronation Charter of 1100 declare that he would observe and maintain the good old laws as they were in the time of Edward the Confessor? Any choice of a starting point is therefore somewhat arbitrary, although my decision to begin my introductory chapter on law and government prior to the Conquest with the issue of the first Anglo-Saxon law code by Æthelbert of Kent, rather than to go back into the period of Roman occupation, has at least the justification of the separate development of England’s common law tradition outside the mainstream of Roman Law found in continental Europe.
Alfred the Great succeeded in 871 to a kingdom imperilled by the Great Army, and passed the first seven years of his reign in near-continuous warfare against the invaders, spending the 880s, the period of a series of truces, in consolidating and re-ordering the defences of his kingdom, and the 890s in renewed warfare with a second large Danish army. According to the written sources, responsibility both for command in battle and for military organisation rested with the king in person, and this picture continues under his successors for another century, until the reigns of Æthelred and his son Edward the Confessor mark a temporary break with tradition, for reasons which are unclear but which probably relate to their personalities.
Constitutional History of the UK by Ann Lyon
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