In Search of Mercian Law

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Thomas Vare


There are five extant English law codes from the sixth to the ninth century but, despite Mercia's having been an independent polity in the period, none are Mercian. Three seventh century Kentish royal law codes survive in a single twelfth century manuscript and two West-Saxon law codes survive elsewhere. The early English legal record is, therefore, thin and there are no extant law codes from the major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia, or Mercia. As such, this article discusses possible answers to two questions: what Mercian law was and whether a Mercian law code ever existed.


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