An Alternative History of Britain: The Anglo-Saxon Age (Hardback)

Medieval History Books Ancient History Books

By Timothy Venning
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: An Alternative History of Britain
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781781591253
Published: 21st January 2013
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Taking a similar approach to his successful If Rome Hadn't Fallen, Timothy Venning explores the various decision points in a fascinating period of British history and the alternative paths that it might have taken.

Dr Timothy Venning starts within an outline of the process by which much of Britain came to be settled by Germanic tribes after the end of Roman rule, so far as it can be determined from the sparse and fragmentary sources. He then moves on to discuss a series of scenarios which might have altered the course of subsequent history dramatically. For example, was a reconquest by the native British ever a possibility (under 'Arthur' or someone else)? Which of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms might have united England sooner and would this have kept the Danes out? And, of course, what if Harold Godwinson had won at Hastings?

While necessarily speculative, all the scenarios are discussed within the framework of a deep understanding of the major driving forces, tensions and trends that shaped British history and help to shed light upon them. In so doing they help the reader to understand why things panned out as they did, as well as what might have been.

His (the author's) speculation is interesting, enjoyable and in parts persuasive. This is a book that may encourage some heated debate, some disbelief and some enthusiastic followers.

Firetrench Reviews

Timothy Venning is a historian who is fascinated by 'what ifs' and near misses, by those moments when events hung in the balance, and he seeks to explore all the alternatives. This book is part of a series that shows just how many turning points there have been in British history. In The Anglo Saxon Age, Venning looks at the establishment of the early English kingdoms, with the arrival of Germanic tribes in a country where Roman rule had collapsed. The book is full of fascinating arguments and alternatives and ideal for anyone who sees history as a source of intelligent argument.

The Good Book Guide

If this was the only book you read on the Anglo-Saxon age then you would come away with a sound knowledge of the period and with some interesting ideas to raise in debate with friends – such as “if Harold II had won the battle of Hastings, who would have succeeded him?” and “could Northumbria, with a run of good luck, have conquered the whole of England”.

Hexham Local History Society

The author is clearly knowledgeable about the subject matter.

Medieval Warfare Magazine

The author explores the various decision points in a fascinating period of British history.

Forces Pension Society

This book serves two valuable historical purposes - first to remind us how little we actually know about some of the events of this period, especially the early conquest period, and second to remind us how big an element chance played in the rise and fall of the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the eventual unification of England and the various eleventh century conquests. It is also an entertaining read, taking us through nearly seven hundred years of alternative histories at a rapid pace.

History of War website

About Timothy Venning

Dr Timothy Venning is a freelance researcher and author. Among his previous works are If Rome Hadn't Fallen (Pen & Sword, 2011), A Chronology of the Roman Empire (2010) and A Chronology of the Byzantine Empire (with Jonathan Harris, 2005). His fascination with the 'what ifs' of history was first kindled by a comic strip he read in Ranger while at primary school in the late '60s and has endured ever since.

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This is a fascinating exploration of how the history of Europe, and indeed the world, might have been different if the Western Roman Empire had survived the crises that pulled it apart in the 4th and 5th centuries. Dr Timothy Venning starts by showing how that survival and recovery might plausibly have happened if several relatively minor things had been different. He then moves on to discuss a series of scenarios which might have altered the course of subsequent history dramatically. Would the survival of a strong Western Empire have assisted the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire in halting the expansion…

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