Paper given at: The Third Japanese-Korean Conference of British History (2008)
The purpose of this paper is to show the issues surrounding the origins of local society in late ‘Anglo-Saxon’ England, by examining a single original document from 968. A local society not only has real existence but is also a construct formed by mutual communication between central authority and the local inhabitants. Under the pressure of expanding northern powers、King Alfred of the West Saxons succeeded in building a defensive line, strongly coalescing with the Mercians (Angles)1), King Edward, his son, pushed forward, and Aethelstan spread his rule over all England, although the word ‘England’ only appeared in c. 10002).
King Aethelstan who first used the title ‘king of the English’. Therefore, ‘Anglo-Saxons’ denoted not a people but an idea of unification. This is the reason why I place a quotation mark around ‘Anglo-Saxon’ in the title of this paper. Only when the kingdom was unified did the title ‘king of the English’ (rex Anglorum) come to be used. The word ‘English’ (Angli in Latin) might already have been applied to the peoples separate from the Britons (the Welsh; see, the law code of King Ine)3). However the application of the word ‘English’ to a whole people owed much to Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English people4).