A sweeping and original history of the Anglo-Saxons by national bestselling author Marc Morris.
Sixteen hundred years ago Britain left the Roman Empire and swiftly fell into ruin. Grand cities and luxurious villas were deserted and left to crumble, and civil society collapsed into chaos. Into this violent and unstable world came foreign invaders from across the sea, and established themselves as its new masters.
The Anglo-Saxons traces the turbulent history of these people across the next six centuries. It explains how their earliest rulers fought relentlessly against each other for glory and supremacy, and then were almost destroyed by the onslaught of the vikings. It explores how they abandoned their old gods for Christianity, established hundreds of churches and created dazzlingly intricate works of art. It charts the revival of towns and trade, and the origins of a familiar landscape of shires, boroughs and bishoprics. It is a tale of famous figures like King Offa, Alfred the Great and Edward the Confessor, but also features a host of lesser known characters - ambitious queens, revolutionary saints, intolerant monks and grasping nobles. Through their remarkable careers we see how a new society, a new culture and a single unified nation came into being.
Drawing on a vast range of original evidence - chronicles, letters, archaeology and artefacts - renowned historian Marc Morris illuminates a period of history that is only dimly understood, separates the truth from the legend, and tells the extraordinary story of how the foundations of England were laid.
Historian Morris (The Norman Conquest) delivers a character-driven history of how the Anglo-Saxons developed England in the centuries between the end of Roman rule and the Norman conquest. Though very few written records exist from the fifth and sixth centuries, when immigrants from Germania arrived in England, Morris fills in the historical gaps with discussions of archaeological sites such as the Sutton Hoo ship burial, where a king (likely R dwald of East Anglia) was laid to rest with his treasures in the early seventh century. Drawing from the ninth-century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other medieval texts, Morris describes how King Offa of Mercia transformed London into a business center in the eighth century, and discusses probable motivations for the building of Offa's Dyke, which separated Anglo-Saxon kingdoms from the native Britons of present-day Wales. Morris also debunks popular misconceptions such as the origins of thelred the Unready's (c. 966 1016) nickname, explaining that it wasn't recorded until the late 12th century and "indicated not a lack of readiness, but a lack of good counsel." Bringing clarity and flashes of humor to discussions of Alfred the Great, St. Dunstan, Beowulf, and other touchstones of Anglo-Saxon England, this is a welcome introduction to a fascinating age.