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The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century$
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George Molyneaux

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198717911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198717911.001.0001

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The Implications of Administrative Change

The Implications of Administrative Change

(p.194) (p.195) 5 The Implications of Administrative Change
The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century

George Molyneaux

Oxford University Press

The reforms analysed in the previous chapter intensified Cerdicing domination south of the Tees, defined the English kingdom, and helped foster a ‘constitutional tradition’. Standardized local administration enabled the imposition of onerous taxation and closer regulation of the conduct of ordinary people between the Channel and the Tees. This area consequently became marked as a unit, distinct from the rest of Britain, such that the eleventh-century English kingdom was demarcated by the limits of administrative reform, not a vision of Alfred the Great. The Cerdicings continued to deal with their greatest subordinates through patronage and coercion, but the reigns of Æthelred II and his successors saw novel attempts to restrain kings’ arbitrariness. These were stimulated by heightened concern with royal responsibilities, as articulated by Ælfric and Wulfstan, and also by administrative reform: the standardization of aspects of royal activity made it thinkable that kings should be constrained by defined norms.

Keywords:   Ælfric, Æthelred II, Alfred the Great, Britain, Cerdicing, constitutional tradition, English kingdom, taxation, Wulfstan

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