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Laws of King Ine, in a Legal Compilation

Laws of King Ine, in a Legal Compilation

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1321

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Claudius D II

Item number: f.5r

Length: 33.5

Width: 23.4

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

A large compilation of documents relating to English law, this manuscript is only part of the original book, with others now kept by the Corporation of London and Oriel College, Oxford. Compiled about 1321, it appears to have been connected with Andrew Horn, Bridge Street fishmonger and Chamberlain of the City of London who bequeathed the manuscript to the City upon his death in 1328. Written by several scribes, it was decorated by a team of artists, some of whom were working in a style seen in luxurious contemporary manuscripts from London, such as the 'Queen Mary Psalter' (now in the British Library). Its visual impressiveness and chronological ordering (not done since the 10th century) places its purpose beyond the utilitarian law book, perhaps as a history in times when the use and idea of law were changing.

Ine, king of Wessex (688-726), who acknowledged the help of the bishops of London and Winchester, was the first Anglo-Saxon king outside of Kent to issue a law code. Because he was king of Wessex his code was customarily appended to that of King Alfred. This manuscript was the first to present it chronologically since the early 10th century. In the first letter, a portrait of Ine shows him as a later medieval king, which although inaccurate would have been readily understood.

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