Constitutions in transition
Constitutions in transition

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Constitutions in transition

5.2 Development of constitutional principles

This section starts in the seventh century, before the unification of England.

Witenagemot

This section starts looking at very early constitutional developments in the seventh century, before the unification of England.

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Figure 19 The Battle of Hastings (1066)

The witenagemots lasted until the time of William the Conqueror, who brought with him the developed manorial system that existed in France and, with that, the practice of inheriting titles from the previous generation (Pike, 1894, p. 18). These ennobled tenants of royal land would perform a similar advisory role to successive kings and queens, as the curia regis (royal council), of England. This advisory role can be compared to the function of the witenagemots that existed prior to the Norman invasion.

Magna Carta

Of course, the relationship between the monarch and his curia could be tumultuous, as was exemplified by the signing of Magna Carta in June 1215. This eventually became a key document in English constitutional history, and was an early fettering (restraining) of the arbitrary decision-making power of English monarchs.

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Figure 20 Signing Magna Carta
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