Bosworth Toller's


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  • noun [ masculine ]
Dictionary links
cyning, cyng,es; m. [cyn people, -ing originating from, son of] .
Wright's OE grammar
§5; §7; §10; §47; §112; §157; §160; §212; §221; §290; §310; §317; §338; §339; §607;
a king, ruler, emperor; rex, imperator . He is the representation of the people, and springs from them, as a son does from his parents. The Anglo-Saxon king was elected from the people; he was, therefore, the king of the people. He was the chosen representative of the people, their embodiment, the child, not the father of the people. He was not the lord of the soil, but the leader of his people. He completed the order of freemen, and was the summit of his class. As the freeman [ceorl] was to the noble [æðele], so was the noble to the king. The Anglo-Saxon king was the king of a tribe or of a people, but never of the land. We read of kings of the West Saxons or of the Mercians, but not of Wessex or of Mercia. The king was, in truth, essentially one with the people, by them and their power he reigned; but his land was like theirs, private property. It was not the feudal system, and was never admitted that the king was owner of all the land in a country
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  • Se cyning mildelíce onféng

    the king received [him] gladly,

    • Ors. 1,
    • 8;
    • Bos. 30,
    • 44.
  • Se Iudéa cyning

    the king of the Jews; ό βασιλεύs τŵν 'Ioυδαίων,

    • Mt. Bos. 2,
    • 2.
  • Saul wæs gecoren ǽrest to cyninge on Israhéla þeóde

    Saul was first chosen king of the people of Israel,

    • Ælfc. T. 13,
    • 3.
  • Eart ðú wítodlíce cyning

    ergo rex es tu?

    oύκoûν βασιλεύs εί σύ;

    • Jn. Bos. 18,
    • 37.
  • Cyninges botl

    a king's dwelling, palace,

    • Bd. 2,
    • 14;
    • S. 518,
    • 18.
  • Cyninga [MS. cininga] bóoc

    the book of kings,

    • Ælfc. T. Grn. 6, 38 : 8,
    • 3.
  • Cyninga [MS. kyninga] byrgen

    a burying-place of kings;

    mausoleum, bustum,

    • Ælfc. Gl. 85
    • ;
    • Som. 74,
    • 3;
    • Wrt. Voc. 49,
    • 27.
  • Maximian, árleás cyning

    Maximian, the wicked emperor,

    • Exon. 65 b
    • ;
    • Th. 243,
    • 1;
    • Jul. 4
    • .
a spiritual King, God, Christ; Deus, Christus
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  • Heofona Cyning

    the King of heaven,

    • Andr. Kmbl. 3008
    • ;
    • An. 1507 : 3017
    • ;
    • An. 1511 : Cd. 137
    • ;
    • Th. 172,
    • 18;
    • Gen. 2846
    • .
  • Crist is ealra cyninga Cyning

    Christ is King of all kings,

    • Homl. Th. ii. 588, 9 : Exon. 9 b
    • ;
    • Th. 9,
    • 17;
    • Cri. 136 : 11 a
    • ;
    • Th. 14,
    • 6;
    • Cri. 215 : Andr. Kmbl. 1955
    • ;
    • An. 980
    • .
the devil;diabŏlus, satănas
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  • Hellwarena cyning

    the king of hell's inhabitants,

    • Exon. 70 a
    • ;
    • Th. 261,
    • 28;
    • Jul. 322
    • .
  • Se ofermóda cyning, Satan

    the haughty king, Satan,

    • Cd. 18
    • ;
    • Th. 22,
    • 9;
    • Gen. 338
    • .
Anglo-Saxon kings were at first elected from a family or class, by Witena gemót the assembly of the wise.
fidelity was sworn to them by the people, in the following words
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  • Ðus man sceal swerigean hyld-áþas. 'On ðone Drihten, ðe ðes háligdóm is fóre hálig, ic wille beón N. hold and getríwe, and eal lufian ðæt he lufaþ, and eal ascúnian ðæt he ascúnaþ, æfter Godes rihte and æfter woroldgerysnum, and nǽfre, willes ne gewealdes, wordes ne weorces, ówiht dón ðæs him láþre biþ; wið ðam ðe he me healde swá ic earnian wille, and eall ðæt læste ðæt uncer fórmǽl wæs, ðá ic to him gebeáh and his willan geceás

    thus shall a man swear oaths of fidelity [or homage]. By the Lord, before whom this relic is holy, I will be to N. faithful and true, and love all that he loves, and shun all that he shuns, according to God's law, and according to the world's principles, and never, by will nor by force, by word nor by deed, do aught of what is loathful to him; on condition that he keep me as I am willing to deserve, and all that fulfil that our agreement was, when I submitted to him and chose his will,'

    • L. O. 1
    • ;
    • Th. i. 178, 2-9
    • .
  • If this was taken in A. D. 924, it was not long before the power of the king was limited, for we have the following oath administered to Æðelréd, when he was consecrated king at Kingston in A. D. 978, as is stated in the Chronicle, - On ðys geáre wæs Æðelréd to cininge gehálgod æt Cinges túne

    in this year Æthelred was consecrated king at Kingston,

      Chr. 978. [MS. 979
    ]; Th. 234, 9, col. 1.
the king took a corresponding oath to his people. The words of the king's oath are, - Ðis gewrit is gewriten, stæf be stæfe, be ðam gewrite ðe Dúnstán arcebisceop sealde úrum hláforde æt Cinges túne á on dæg ðá hine man hálgode to cinge, and forbeád him ǽlc wedd to syllanne bútan ðysan wedde, ðe he up on Cristes weofod léde, swá se bisceop him dihte. 'On ðære hálgan Þrýnnesse naman, Ic þreó þing beháte cristenum folce, and me underþeóddum
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  • Án ǽrest, ðæt ic Godes cyrice and eall cristen folc mínra gewealda sóðe sibbe healde. Oðer is, ðæt ic reáflác and ealle unrihte þing eallum hádum forbeóde. Þridde, ðæt ic beháte and bebeóde on eallum dómum riht and mildheortnisse, ðæt us eallum ǽrfæst and mildheort God þurh ðæt his écean miltse forgife, se lifaþ and ríxaþ' this writing is copied, letter for letter, from the writing which archbishop Dunstan delivered to our lord at Kingston on the very day when he was consecrated king, and he forbade him to give any other pledge but this pledge which he laid upon Christ's altar, as the bishop instructed him. 'In the name of the Holy Trinity, three things do I promise to this christian people, my subjects. First, that I will hold God's church and all the christian people of my realm in true peace. Second, that I will forbid rapine and all injustice to men of all conditions. Third, that I promise and enjoin justice and mercy in all judgments, whereby the just and merciful God may give us all his eternal favour, who liveth and reigneth,'

      Relq. Ant. W. ii. 194.
from the freedom with which the educated spoke of the Doom's Day Survey of William the Conquerer, indicating their love of freedom,
we have no reason to suppose this oath was the first oath taken by kings in our limited monarchy. The spirit of the monks may be seen in the following extract from the Chronicle
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  • Willelm, Engla landes cyng, ðe ðá wæs sittende on Normandige, forðig he áhte ǽgðer ge Engla land ge Normandige . . . sende ðá ofer eall Engla land into ǽlcere scíre his men . . . Swá swýde nearwe-líce he hit lett út aspyrian, ðæt næs án ǽlpig híde, ne án gyrde landes, ne, furðon, hit is sceame to tellanne, ac hit ne þuhte him nán sceame to dónne, án oxa [MS. oxe], ne án cú, ne án swín næs belyfon, ðæt næs gesæt on his gewrite, and ealle ða gewrita wǽron gebroht to him syððan

    William, king of England, who was then resident in Normandy, for he owned both England and Normandy . . . then sent his men over all England into each shire . . . So very narrowly did he commission them to trace it out, that there was not one single hide, nor a rood of land, nay, moreover, it is shameful to tell, though he thought it no shame to do it, not an ox, nor a cow, nor a swine was left, that was not set down in his writ, and all the recorded particulars were afterwards brought to him,

    • Chr. 1085
    • ;
    • Erl. 218, 2-4. . . 24, 25 . . . 33-38
    • .
the Anglo-Saxon king had royal power to pardon transgressors
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  • Gif hwá in cyninges healle gefeohte, oððe his wǽpn gebrede, and hine mon gefó; sié ðæt on cyninges dóme, swá deáþ, swá líf, swá he him forgifan wille

    if any one fight in the king's hall, or draw his weapon, and he be taken; be it in the king's power, either death or life, or pardon,

    • L. Alf. pol. 7
    • ;
    • Th. i. 66, 8,
    • 9.
  • Sié on cyninges dóme hwæðer he líf áge ðe náge

    be it in the king's power whether he shall or shall not have life,

    • L. In. 6
    • ;
    • Th. i. 106, 3,
    • 4.
  • Búton him cyning [MS. kyning] árian wille

    unless the king will be merciful to him,

    • 36
    • ;
    • Th. i. 124,
    • 19.
  • Ðæt he wǽre his feores scyldig, búton he cyng gesóhte, and he him his feorh forgifan wolde; eall swá hit ǽr æt Greátan leá and æt Exan ceastre and æt þunres felda gecweden wæs

    that he should be liable in his life, unless he should flee to the king, and he should give him his life; all as it was before ordained at Greatley and at Exeter and at Thundersfield,

    • L. Ath. v. § 1,
    • 4;
    • Th. i. 230, 6-9: L. Edm. S. 6
    • ;
    • Th. i. 250, 11: L. Edg. ii. 7
    • ;
    • Th. i. 268, 24, 25: L. Eth. iii. 16
    • ;
    • Th. i. 298, 14: vii. 9
    • ;
    • Th. i. 330,
    • 24.
of all forfeits the king had one half — to healfum
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  • Fó se cyng to healfum, — to healfum ða men ðe on ðære ráde beón

    let the king take possession of half, of [the other] half the men, who may be in the riding [shall take possession ],

    • L. Ath. i. 20
    • ;
    • Th. i. 210, 6,
    • 7.
treasure-trove, or treasure or money found, of which the owner was unknown, belonged to the king. It is designated in Anglo-Saxon charters by the words — ealle hordas búfan eorþan, and binnan eorþan
all hoards above the earth, and within the earth. As we learn from Beowulf, in early and heathen times, much treasure was buried in the mound raised over the ashes of the dead, besides what was burned with the body
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  • Hí on beorg dydon bégas [MS. beg] and siglu, forléton eorla gestreón eorþan healdan, gold on greóte, ðǽr hit nú gén lífaþ yldum swá unnyt swá hit ǽr wæs

    they placed rings and jewels in the mound, they left the treasure of earls to the earth to hold, gold in the dust, where it now yet remains as useless to men as it was before,

      Beo. Th. 6307-6318; B. 3164-3169.
  • The legend of Guthlac [about A. D. 700, v. Crúland] supplies a very early instance of the search for gold and silver in the mounds Wæs ðǽr on ðam eálande sum hláw mycel ofer eorþan geworht, ðone ylcan men iú geára for feós wilnunga gedulfon and brǽcon: ðá wæs ðǽr on óðre sídan ðæs hláwes gedolfen swylce mycel wæterseáþ wǽre

    there was on the island a great mound raised upon the earth, which some men of yore had dug and broken up in hopes of treasure: then there was dug up on the other side of the mound as it were a great water-pit,

      Guthl. 4; Gdwin. 26, 4-8.
Pastus or Convivium = Cyninges feorm. The king visited different districts personally or by deputy to see that justice was done to all his subjects. In these periodical journeys the king received support and entertainment wherever he went. Hence perhaps the privileges of our judges . In A. D. 814 Cénwulf released the bishop of Worcester fróm a pastus of twelve men, whom he was bound to find. This was so great an expense that the exemption was worth an estate of thirteen hides, v. Cod. Dipl. 203; A. D. 814; Kmbl. i. 256.
Vigilia = heáfodweard head ward, or a proper watch set over the king, which he claimed when he came into any district . The sǽweard or coast guard was also a regal right, performed by the tenants of those land owners whose estates lay contiguous to the sea.
the mint or coinage of money. The king exercised a superintendence over the circulating medium. Æðelrǽd not only enacted that there should be no moneyers besides the king's, but that their number should be diminished
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  • Nán man ne áge nǽnne mynetere búton cyng

    let no man have a moneyer except the king,

    • L. Eth. iii. 8
    • ;
    • Th. i. 296,
    • 15.
  • Ut monetarii pauciores sint quam antea fuerint, iv. 9; Th. i. 303, 2. ll. the grant of a market, with power to levy tolls, was also a royalty, Cod. Dipl. 1075; A. D. 873-899; Kmbl. v. 142: 1084; A. D. 904; Kmbl. v. 157. v. The Rights of Anglo-Saxon Kings, explained more fully in

    Kemble's Saxons in England,

    2 vols.
      8vo. 1849.
  • Bk. ii. chap. 2; vol. ii. pp. 29-103.
Prompt.kynge :
Wyc. kyng:
Piers P. Chauc. king:
R. Glouc. kyng:
Laym. Orm. king:
Plat. köni'g:
O. Sax. kuning, cunig, m:
Frs. kening:
O. Frs. kining, kinig, kening, keneng, koning:
Dut. koning, m:
Kil. koningh, m:
Ger. könig, m:
M. H. Ger. künic, künec, künc, m:
O. H. Ger. kuning, m:
Dan. kouning, konge, m:
Swed. konung, kong, kung, m:
Icel. konungr, kóngr, m:
Lett. kungs dominus
Derived forms
æðel-cyning, Angel, beorn-, brýten-, eorþ-, éðel-, folc-, gást-, geár-, gúþ-, hǽðen-, heáh-, heofon-, leód-, mægen-, ródor-, sǽ-, segn-, self-, sige-, sóþ-, swegl-, þeód-, þrym-, þryþ-, woruld-, wuldor-
Linked entries
v.  cuning cyncg cyneg cyng cyngc cincg cing cining.
Full form


  • cyning, n.