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Chapter Six. Kings and Kingship

Barbara Yorke

Subject History

Period 1 - 999 CE » 500 - 999 CE
1000 - 1999 » 1000-1099

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106283.2009.00009.x


By 600, we can confidently say that kingship was the predominant political system amongst all the peoples of Britain and Ireland, even though there may have been certain peripheral areas where royal authority had relatively little impact. The institution of kingship had developed at different dates amongst the main peoples of the study area. The origins of Irish kingship lie in the prehistoric past and cannot easily be identified; we can at least say that the institution was well established there by 550. In the areas that had been under direct Roman rule, kingdoms had emerged during the disturbed period following the break with Roman authority in c.410. Gildas indicates that some of the British kings of the west whom he addresses were at least second-generation rulers by the time that he was writing, probably in the first half of the sixth century (see chapter 4 ). Within the eastern areas of Britain in which a Germanic identity came to predominate, kingdoms seem to have been a fairly recent development by 600, and some dynasties may only have established themselves in the early years of the seventh century. The origins of kingship among the Picts cannot be dated with precision. Pictish kings may be a post-Roman development like their British counterparts, though it is also possible that interaction with the Roman Empire had stimulated their development at an earlier point. At ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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