The Witan of England

The Witan was made up of wise men and councilors to the king. It was a group consisting of earls, senior nobles (thanes) from each earldom, and the archbishops and bishops of the realm. When there was a meeting of the Witan (a witenagemot), those nearby would gather to address the weighty problems at hand.

Under English custom and law, the Witan was in charge of naming the next king of their land. They had a few basic criteria:

  1. the king of England should be a strong leader;
  2. the king should be of noble blood;
  3. the king should be English.

In addition, the Witan would try and follow the request of the previous king if possible.

Obviously, the group could not always find someone who fit all the criteria.