Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n.pl. The members of the witenagemot in Anglo-Saxon England.
  • n.pl. The witenagemot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The Anglo-Saxon national council or witenagemot.
  • n. The members of such an assembly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.pl. Lit., wise men

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In AngloSaxon hist, members of the witenagemot.

Etymologies

Old English, pl. of wita, councilor; see witenagemot.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English witan, plural of wita ("wise man"), or more literally "men of wit", "wits". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But we ought not to allow the use of the word witan in this connexion, by the Saxon chronicler, or of "election" by other historians or by Henry himself, to impose upon us the belief in a constitutional right of election in the modern sense, which could no more have existed at that time than a definite law of inheritance.

    The History of England from the Norman Conquest to the Death of John (1066-1216)

  • "This then is the secular law which by the counsel of my 'witan' I will that it be observed all over England".

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 13: Revelation-Stock

  • A body of nobles known as the "witan" joined with the king in most of the actions of government.

    An Introduction to the Industrial and Social History of England

  • I have a mind to go and teach the pack of fools whom Streone leads by the nose and calls a witan, that there is one man left in England who is strong enough to make them pay scatt to himself! "

    King Olaf's Kinsman A Story of the Last Saxon Struggle against the Danes in the Days of Ironside and Cnut

  • The traditions of paganism were quite strong among his witan, and one of the most memorable passages of Bede deals with the final acceptance of Christianity among the thegns.

    Edwin of Northumbria

  • His lifestyle was that of a prince-bishop, riding with the army, leading York's witan council, negotiating diplomatic settlements with foreign powers, making and breaking kings, languishing in prison and finally dying in embittered political exile.

    Five historical figures

  • The Confessor's bequest, acceptance by the witan, and coronation “legalized” William's title.

    b. The British Isles

  • Godwin's influence led to the deposition of the Norman archbishop of Canterbury and the selection of the Saxon Stigand by the witan.

    616-80

  • King Canute (Cnut), elected by the witan, a heterogeneous body of prelates, magnates, and officials without precise status.

    616-80

  • On Edward's death Harold was chosen king by the witan and was guarding the coasts of England against William when Tostig and Haardraade appeared in the north.

    1066

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