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Payments for Land and Privilege in Anglo-Saxon England

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-342
Number of pages66
JournalAnglo-Saxon England
PublishedDec 2012

King's Authors


A little over five per cent of surviving Anglo-Saxon charters contain some reference to money or purchase. These cover a multitude of transactions: gifts, sales, bequests, annual renders, and so on. They provide a valuable insight into Anglo-Saxon perceptions of wealth and a detailed view of one specific area of exchange. Gold and precious-metal objects emerge as especially prominent, at the expense of silver coin. The formulation of these documents, however, presents a number of obstacles to interpretation, particularly in that no definitive distinction between charters of gift and sale developed in Anglo-Saxon England. Diverse forms of transactions can be exemplified among them – outright purchase, payment for book-right (with or without an earlier claim to the land in question) and gifts to neutralize potential challenges of title – but these show little correlation with ‘price’ or with the complex social background to every act of exchange.

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