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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

10 - Land, Law, and Office

from Part IV - The Wolf Sniffs the Wind


This chapter looks at the belief, expressed in Wulfstan’s work Geþyncđu, that the public obligations inherent in the right order of society were closely connected with landholding. His concern that holding five hides should underpin the standing of those active in public life was part of a moral order in which for young nobles and peasant boys alike, acquiring land was the gateway to marriage and the establishment of a family . These should mark the beginning of a man’s life as a responsible and armed member of society. At the root of this concern is the lesson of the past expressed, and still read in Wulstan’s time, of Gildas’ narrative of the ‘Downfall of Britain’: England was vulnerable to invasion.

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