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National Government In Cnut’s Reign: The Royal Court

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Chapter Summary

The systems of central government and the nature of the royal court which Cnut inherited from his Anglo-Saxon predecessors are only occasionally reported in the extant sources. That Cnuts Scandinavian followers dominated the royal court has long been recognised. Royal charters seem to offer some indications of its composition, preserving within their witness-lists the names and titles of some of the men who surrounded the king at public assemblies. At the head of the secular entries in the witness-lists are the ealdormen or earls. As well as their obligations in the localities of England, these officials appear to have held significant influence at court. This chapter traces the briefest details of their role. These men did not merely survive the conquest in 1016 but thrived under its pressures. All of them appear consistently in positions in the witness-lists which indicate power within the royal court.

Keywords: Cnut; Danish officials; English officials; royal court



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