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I–II Cnut: Wulfstan's Summa?

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Chapter Summary

In the centuries since he compiled and possibly preached the legal compendia known as I and II Cnut, Archbishop Wulfstan's culminating achievement has generally been assessed as a summation of his thought commensurate with his last great opportunity to present his vision for the English nation. Divided according to ecclesiastical (I Cnut) and secular (II Cnut) matters, the pair of codes is preserved today in the original Old English in four manuscripts. This chapter begins with the assumption that the text of I-II Cnut, as edited in its four surviving versions by Liebermann, is the work of Archbishop Wulfstan c. 1020/21. In contrast to I Cnut, II Cnut does not offer a focused package of legislation. Wulfstan here struggles to control a mass of material, a third of which is not his own.

Keywords: Archbishop Wulfstan; I-II Cnut; Old English



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