The Institutes from the Laws of the Kings of the English, popularly known as the Institutes of Cnut, is a Latin translation not only of Cnut’s Winchester code (I-II Cnut, c. 1023), but also of chapters from the laws of Alfred, Edgar, Æthelred, and several short anonymous treatises.  The translator, working between the Norman conquest and c. 1123, used his Old English sources as a starting point for composing his Latin text; he revised freely, omitting, it appears, many chapters from the sources, updating some sections, and rearranging texts frequently.  Some of the Instituta‘s sources cannot be identified.  The final text is a testament to the Norman attitude that preconquest English law was the foundation of the law of England.

A new edition is being prepared for Early English Laws by Bruce O’Brien.

Manuscripts