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King Alfred the Great and Our Common Law - Part 1

In 1892, the famous German Church Historian Rev. Professor Dr.J.H. Kurtz1 called King Alfred the greatest and noblest of all the monarchs England has ever had. King Alfred ruled from 871 to 901 A.D. He applied all the energy of his mind to the difficult problems of government; to the emancipation of his Christian country by driving out the Pagan Danish invaders and robbers; and then to improving the internal condition of the land.

Alfred is perhaps best of all remembered for his famous Law Code. According to the celebrated former British Statesman and Historian Sir Winston Churchill, the roots of King Alfred’s Book of Laws or “Dooms” (his “deemings,” = “to come to think or judge”) came forth from the (as then already long-established) laws of Kent, Mercia and Wessex. All these attempted to blend the Mosaic Code with the Christian principles of Celto-Brythonic Law and old Germanic customs. Churchill adds that the laws of Alfred, continually amplified by his successors, grew into that body of Customary Law which was administered [as the ‘Common Law’] by the Shire and the Hundred Courts. Cf. Exodus 18:21ff. That, under the name of the ‘Laws of St. Edward’ [the ‘Confessor’] -- as the A.D. 1042f last Anglo-Saxon Christian King of England -- the Norman kings undertook to respect, after their 1066f invasion and conquest of England and domination over Britain. Out of that, with much dexterity by feudal lawyers, the Common Law emerged (which was re-confirmed by Magna Carta in 1215).