from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. An Anglo-Saxon advisory council to the king, composed of about 100 nobles, prelates, and other officials, convened at intervals to discuss administrative and judicial affairs.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Any assembly, parliament or discursive gathering.
- n. The assembly of the Anglo-Saxon national council.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In Anglo-Saxon history, the great national council or parliament, consisting of the king with his dependents and friends and sometimes the members of his family, the ealdormen, the bishops, and other ecclesiastics.
It had always existed in one form or another, extending back continuously to the "witenagemot" of the Anglo-Saxons.
The Saxons and people of the North had their witenagemot.
A witenagemot, or supreme council, was held here by King Ethelred in the year 866, and Alfred the Great pursued his literary work here by translating the _Consolations of Boethius_, and in the grounds he had a deer-fold.
For the law was but universal custom, and that custom had no sanction; but for breach of the custom anybody could make personal attack, or combine with his friends to make attack, on the person who committed the breach, and then, when the matter was taken up by the members of both tribes, and finally by the witenagemot as a judicial court, the question was, what the law was.
At least in theory, however, the Norman kings were accustomed to consult this gathering of magnates, very much as their predecessors had been accustomed to consult the witenagemot, upon all important questions of legislation, finance, and public policy.
* -- Associated with the king in the conduct of public business was the council of wise men, or witenagemot.
Its descent can be traced directly from the Great Council of the Plantagenet period and, in the opinion of some scholars, from the witenagemot of
He ruled as an English king; his feudal council was the witenagemot with a new qualification; but at the same time he was lord of the land as no king had been before him, and he enjoyed not only all the income of his predecessors but in addition all the dues which came to him as feudal sovereign.
Nor should it be in the opposite process, which was equally easy, as when the Saxon chronicler, led by the superficial resemblance and overlooking the great institutional difference, called the curia of William by the Saxon name of witenagemot.
An outside body, the witenagemot, seemed about to acquire the right of imposing rules and regulations upon the Church, and another outside power, the king, to acquire the right of appointing its officers.
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