Instituta Cnuti

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The title Instituta Cnuti, in full Instituta Cnuti aliorumque regum Anglorum ("Institutes of Cnut and other kings of the English"), refers to a legal compilation which cites, in Latin translation, selected material of Old English law. It was put together by an Anglo-Norman cleric, possibly at Worcester, sometime after the Conquest, between 1066 and 1123-4.[1] The text is preserved in the Textus Roffensis and six later manuscripts dating from the 12th and early 13th century.[2]

The work consists of three sections. The first two contain passages from Cnut's two law-codes (I Cnut and II Cnut), occasionally with amendments by the compiler to suit contemporary circumstances. The last section has material excerpted from the laws of Ine, Alfred and Edgar (II Edgar) as well as unofficial legal tracts associated with Wulfstan, Archbishop of York, like Geþyncðu. The selection shows that the translator took particular interest in (secular) Danelaw.

The standard edition is still that of Felix Liebermann in his monumental Gesetze der Angelsachsen. More recently, Bruce O'Brien has criticised Liebermann's work and illustrated the need for a new critical edition.[3] The Institute may be compared to the Consiliatio Cnuti, which offers a near complete Latin translation of Cnut's legislation.


  1. ^ O'Brien, "On the Instituta Cnuti aliorumque regum Anglorum", p. 186.
  2. ^ O'Brien, "On the Instituta Cnuti aliorumque regum Anglorum", p. 177.
  3. ^ O'Brien, "On the Instituta Cnuti aliorumque regum Anglorum", pp. 178-181.

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