Alfred’s Watchfulness over the Executive

Book 2, Chapter 5, 878 AD to 901 AD – Saxon Laws

Concerning the administration and execution of these laws, Asser says, “The king investigated with great sagacity the judgments given through almost all his region, which had been delivered when he was not present, as to what had been their character, whether they were just, or unjust. And if he detected any injustice in such judgments, he, either in person, or by people in his confidence, mildly enquired why the judges had given such unjust decisions? Whether through ignorance, or through malversation of another kind, as fear, or favour, or hope of gain? And then, if the judges admitted that they had so decided because they knew no better, he would gently and moderately correct their ignorance and folly, and say, “I marvel at your insolence, who by God’s gift and mine, have taken upon yourselves the ministry and rank of wise men, but have neglected the study of wisdom. Now it is my command that ye either give up at once the administration of those secular powers which ye enjoy, or pay a much more devoted attention to the studies of wisdom.” Further, we are told that the king summarily and severely punished those who had flagrantly transgressed their office. Particulars such as the following are given in the Miroir des Justices, a work composed in Norman-French by Andrew Home during the reign of Edward II.

“He hanged Cadwine, because he condemned Hachwy to death without the assent of all the jurors, in a case where he put himself upon the jury of twelve men, and because Cadwine removed three who wished to save him against the nine, for three others into whose jury this Hachwy did not put himself. He hanged Markes, because he adjudged during to death by twelve men not sworn. He hanged Freberne, because he adjudged Harpin to death when the jurors were in doubt about their verdict, for when in doubt, we ought rather to save than condemn. Athulf was executed, because he had condemned Copping, who was under twenty one years of age, Billing, because he bad condemned Leston for not sitting down when proclamation had been made for all but the murderer to sit down, Hale, because he had acquitted the sheriff Tristram, though Tristram had unjustly seized goods for the king’s use, Therbon, because he had condemned Osgot for a crime which the king had pardoned, Oskitell, because he had condemned Cutling on the sole report of the coroner. Thus also he imprisoned Sithing, because that officer had imprisoned Herbole for a crime committed by Herbole’s wife, and he ordered Haulf to lose a hand, because he had not inflicted that punishment upon Armoc, who deserved it,” etc. (Miroir, ed  1642, pp. 296-301).

Chapter 5, Alfred’s Fortifications

Effects of the Danish Ravages

Alfred’s Measures for the Defence of the Country



New Attacks under Hasting

Chapter 5, Revolt in the Danelagh

Revolt in the Danelagh

Four Years of Conflict

Chapter 5, Alfred’s Educational Efforts

Ultimate Success

Hume’s Estimate of Alfred

His care for Internal Prosperity of the Country

State of Learning

Educational Efforts

Asser’s Friendship

His Computation and Division of Time

Chapter 5, Alfred’s Industry and Zeal

Alfred’s Industry and zeal

Application of his Revenue

Chapter 5, Saxon Laws

The Domboc

Saxon Laws

Alfred’s Watchfulness over the Executive

Origin of Jury

Divisions of the Country

Chapter 5, Summary of Alfred’s Character

The king’s Illness and Death

His Will

Summary of Character


Categories: Book 2

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