Divisions of the Country

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

The means which Alfred took to provide an efficient force to repress the Danes are stated to have been some modification of the ancient provincial divisions of England, which had long before been known as shires. The alterations which he made with these are not detailed. But it is expressly declared that he began the system of dividing them into hundreds, and these into ten parts of tithings. Under these nominal divisions, the population of the country was arranged. Every person was directed to belong to some hundred or tithing, every hundred and tithing were pledged to the preservation of the public peace and security in their districts, and were made answerable for the conduct of their several inhabitants. In, consequence of this arrangement, the inhabitants were speedily called out to repel an invader, and every criminal accused was sure to be apprehended. If he was not produced by the hundred or tithing to which he was attached, the inhabitants of these divisions incurred a general mulct.

 Thus every person in the district was interested in seizing or discovering the offender. If he fled, he must go to other districts, where, not having been marshalled within their jurisdiction, he would be known and punished as an outlaw, because unpledged, for he who was not pledged by some hundred and tithing experienced all the severity of the law. It is added to this statement, that Alfred divided the provincial prefects into two officers, judges, and sheriffs. Until his time there were only sheriffs. He separated, by the appointment of justices or judges, the judicial from the executive department of the law, and thus provided an improved administration of law and justice. That golden bracelets were hung up in the public roads, and were not pilfered, is mentioned as a fact, which evidenced the efficacy of his police.

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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