Witan

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Witan ("Wise Men") is the Old English name for a meeting of the leaders of the kingdom, the forerunner of Parliament. The Witan consisted of all the great landowners and religious leaders, and had the power to depose the king if the situation demanded it. Upon the death of a king it was the Witan who elected his successor. They would usually choose a member of his family, but this was not compulsary. The Witan was called at regular intervals to advise the king. After the Norman Conquest of 1066 AD the Witan continued to meet, but gradually came to be known as the Curia Regis, as Latin replaced English as the language of administration. Its powers were cutailed for a time, until the later Middle Ages. Its modern descendant is the House of Lords, which forms the upper chamber of the British Parliament.