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Ine (d. 726), king of Wessex (688–726). The reputation of Ine rests on two foundations, legal and ecclesiastical. He reigned from 688 for a very long period, 37 years, and was confident enough to resign his throne to younger men, making his way as a pilgrim to Rome where he died. His laws were impressive. Alfred (871–99), who was descended from Ine's brother, used Ine's decrees when he drew up his own statement of just law, and added Ine's code (drafted between 688 and 694, and much concerned with theft and the agrarian routine) as a supplement to his own pronouncements. In the ecclesiastical field Ine himself presided over the first synods known to have been held among the West Saxons, and founded the bishopric at Sherborne to serve his people west of Selwood. Internal evidence within the law code betrays a deep concern with ecclesiastical law. Heavy penalties were imposed on failure to see that a child was baptized or to pay proper dues to the church. In this sense his reign marks the legal consolidation of the total conversion of the West Saxon peoples to Christianity. His laws also show a significant concern with the status of Welshmen assimilated to the kingdom. A Welshman was accorded the substantial blood-price (wergeld) of 120 shillings if he possessed one hide of land, 80 shillings if half a hide, and 60 shillings if none at all. He also had rights in basic legal procedures of accusing by oath in cases concerning stolen cattle. There was discrimination: a penally enslaved Welshman was to be flogged if oaths assessed at 12 hides were sworn against him, an Englishman in such a plight needed an oath of 34 hides (probably a misprint for 24). There was still an independent British king, Geraint by name, operating in Devon as late as 710. The Welshmen of the code of laws clearly referred to the British inhabitants of the west country taken over and governed according to Germanic law by the West Saxon king. Ine was also from time to time busy in the south-east. In 694 he compelled the Kentishmen to pay an immense compensation for the murder of the West Saxon prince Mul, the brother of Ine's own predecessor. He was regarded at times as king in both Surrey and Sussex though both communities were acting independently at the end of his reign. But his main efforts and achievement lay in the heartlands of Wessex and the south-west. Scholarship flourished under the inspiration of Aldhelm, abbot of Malmesbury, and then first bishop of Sherborne (705–9). Exeter, where St Boniface received his early training, possessed a monastery ruled by an English abbot in the 680s. Ine's master achievement was the completion of the political conquest of Devon, following on a generation or so of steady Saxon migration and agrarian settlement under arms in the fertile valleys of the south-west.

Henry Loyn

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