The law-code of Offa, king of the Mercians, which has been thought to lie behind King Alfred’s statement that he used as sources for his laws, inter alia, what was ‘most just’ from the time of Offa, may survive in the report sent by George, bishop of Ostia, to Pope Hadrian I in 786. This report, which lists 20 canons (called capitulare and decreta) issued by a council summoned by Offa, can be seen to fit both Alfred’s description of his source as well as Alcuin’s slightly later reference to Offa’s ‘good, moderate and chaste customs’, and thus supply what Patrick Wormald called ‘perhaps the most notorious of alleged pre-conquest deperdita’. The identification of this council report with the ‘missing’ laws of Offa is not, however, acccepted by all historians.

Contents

  • A. W. Haddan and W. Stubbs, eds., Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents, 3 vols (Oxford, 1869–78), vol. 3, pp. 447–62 (lacks readings from Wolfenbüttel MS)
  • Alcuini sive Albini Epistolae, ed. E. Dümmler, in Epistolae Karolini Aevi II, MGH, Epistolae IV (Berlin, 1895), pp. 19-29.