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Medieval Sourcebook:
Alfred and Guthrum's Peace

This is one of the few official documents of Alfred's reign. Although fighting continued between the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons, this treaty marks the end to a war that, as Sir Geoffrey Elton has said, seemed lost when Alfred ascended the throne.

This is the peace that King Alfred and King Guthrum, and the witan of all theEnglish nation, and all the people that are in East Anglia, have all ordainedand with oaths confirmed, for themselves and for their descendants, as well forborn as for unborn, who reck of God's mercy or of ours.

1. Concerning our land boundaries: Up on the Thames, and then up on the Lea,and along the Lea unto its source, then straight to Bedford, then up on theOuse unto Watling Street.

2. Then is this: If a man be slain, we estimate all equally dear, English andDanish, at viii half marks of pure gold; except the ceorl who resides on rentedland and their [the Danes'] freedmen; they also are equally dear, either atcc. shillings.

3. And if a king's thegn be accused of manslaying, if he dare clear himself onoath, let him do that with 12 king's thegns. If any one accuse that man whois of less degree than the king's thegn, let him clear himself with xi of hisequals and with one king's thegn. And so in every suit which may be more thaniv mancuses. [A money of account representing thirty pence] And if he darenot, let him pay for it threefold, as it may be valued.

4. And that every man know his warrantor in acquiring slaves and horses andoxen.

5. And we all ordained on that day that the oaths were sworn, that neitherbond nor free might go to the host without leave, no more than any of them tous. But if it happen that from necessity any of them will have traffic with usor we with them, with cattle and with goods, that is to be allowed in thiswise: that hostages be given in pledge of peace, and as evidence whereby itmay be known that the party has a clean back.




translated in Albert Beebe White and Wallce Notestein, eds., Source Problems in English History (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1915).


Other works referred to in preparartion:

  • Elton, Geoffrey, The English (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992).
  • Maitland, F. W., The Constitutional History of England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965).
  • Smith, Lacey Baldwin and Jean Reeder Smith, eds., The Past Speaks: Sources and Problems in English History, vol. 1 (Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1993).

Text prepared by Seth Seyfried of the University of Utah.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

(c)Paul Halsall Feb 1996