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Royal Protections And Private Justice: A Reassessment Of Cnut's 'Reserved Pleas'

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Chapter Summary

Hurnard's interpretation of Cnut's "reserved pleas" is thus a crucial element of the current historiographical consensus against the existence of immunities in Anglo-Saxon England. This chapter discusses the arguments for a royal plea of homicide, both those of Hurnard and the separate case put forward by Wormald, before going on to propose an alternative interpretation for Cnut's "reserved pleas" emphasising their significance as vehicles for royal jurisdiction over violence. It briefly sketches out the wider implications of this reinterpretation for our view of the distribution of legal power in late Anglo-Saxon England. The chapter argues that the royal protections of hamsocn, griðbryce and forsteal were just part of a wider network of protective powers that served, as a whole, to regulate violence in Anglo-Saxon England.

Keywords: griðbryce forsteal; Anglo-Saxon England; Cnut's reserved pleas; hamsocn; Naomi Hurnard



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