Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/145

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Reviews. 123

and even the most discussed constitutional questions relating to the period have by no means reached anything like a final settlement. In the main, no doubt, this is due to the scarcity of " authorities," but partly also to the small number of scholars who have been content to work at their records without importing into them preconceived notions as to the political ideas of these early times. Mr. Chadwick takes his documents as he finds them in the best modern editions, and has produced work which is fre- quently suggestive, even if we may not always bear him company as far as his conclusions.

For one thing Mr. Chadwick seems to regard the great body of Anglo-Saxon charters with too unsuspicious an eye. Certainly it is very possible to go too far by way of scepticism, but it is a pretty safe rule that a land-book should be regarded as spurious until it has been proved to be genuine. An instance may be to the point. On the strength of Birch, 1029, Mr. Chadwick has to add five earls to the number of such dignitaries who sign the charters of Ead- wig's reign, remarking, at the same time, that four of them reappear in Birch 1044 (which belongs to Edgar's Mercian Kingdom). Now not only is Birch, 1029, very suspicious on internal grounds, but the earliest known copy of it occurs in the Liber Albus of York, in which it immediately follows Birch 1044, both charters referring to land in Nottinghamshire. The presumption is very strong that the list of witnesses in Edgar's charter, which has every appearance of being genuine, supplied the material out of which some later forger concocted the string of attestations to Birch 1029. We cannot, therefore, lightly accept any statement relating to Eadwig's reign which rests only on the authority of the latter document.

Mr. Chadwick rightly lays stress on the problems which await solution in connection with the Danelaw, and has devoted an Excursus to a discussion of the shifting meanings of the word. Were it not that Mr. Chadwick has definitely ruled Domesday Book to lie outside his province we might complain that he did not at this point introduce some account of the brilliant argument from the assessment of the district by which Mr. Round has been able to define its limits. Something also might have been made of the evidence from place-names in this connection. But the