Electing monarchs – a very old British tradition

imageI’ve just finished reading “Alfred the Great – The man who made England” by Justin Pollard. It is a fantastically good book – a real page turner. – which is a phrase I don’t often use about books describing events some 1160 years ago.

We are often led to assume that British monarchs follow strict hereditary rules and that this is “traditional” (Something reinforced by crazy lines of succession described to 300+ and obscure bottle washers in Canadian restaurants). Rubbish. In the first millenium AD, Kings were elected by the Witan, the old equivalent of parliament and often the succession did not follow strict hereditary rules. Indeed, Alfred’s brother succeeded his father as King while his father was still alive. And Alfred himself was deposed, it is supposed, by the Witan, leading to his seven-week twig-eating and cake-burning sojourn in the Somerset marshes.

So I think we should go back to the real old traditional method and have Parliament choose the next king or queen. To heck Charlie and co. and let’s go straight to King Simon of the Plantagenet line, bearing in mind the likely illegitimacy of Edward IV.

I also note that Pollard’s book reflects that the position of women was more important in Saxon society than it was in post-Norman conquest society.

Photo by neilalderney123