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The Battles That Created England 793-1100 (Hardback)

How Alfred and his Successors Defeated the Vikings to Unite the Kingdoms

Military > Frontline Books Military > Pre-WWI P&S History > Medieval World > Medieval History P&S History > Social History

By Arthur C Wright
Frontline Books
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 16
ISBN: 9781399087988
Published: 9th December 2022



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In popular imagination the warfare of the Early Middle Ages is often obscure, unstructured, and unimaginative, lost between two military machines, the ‘Romans’ and the ‘Normans’, which saw the country invaded and partitioned. In point of fact, we have a considerable amount of information at our fingertips and the picture that should emerge is one of English ability in the face of sometimes overwhelming pressures on society, and a resilience that eventually drew the older kingdoms together in new external responses which united the ‘English’ in a common sense of purpose.

This is the story of how the Saxon kingdoms, which had maintained their independence for generations, were compelled to unite their forces to resist the external threat of the Viking incursions. The kingdoms of East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Wessex were gradually welded into one as Wessex grew in strength to become the dominant Saxon kingdom.

From the weak Æthelred to the strong Alfred, rightly deserving the epithet ‘Great’, to the strong, but equally unfortunate, Harold, this era witnessed brutal hand-to-hand battles in congested melees, which are normally portrayed as unsophisticated but deadly brawls. In reality, the warriors of the era were experienced fighters often displaying sophisticated strategies and deploying complex tactics.

Our principal source, replete with reasonably reliable reportage, are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, comprehensive in collation though subject to oral distortion and mythological excursions. The narrative of these does not appear to flow continuously, leaving too much to imagination but, by creating a complementary matrix of landscapes, topography and communications it is possible to provide convincing scenery into which we can fit other archaeological and philological evidence to show how the English nation was formed in the bloody slaughter of battle.

Fantastic read! For those who enjoy military history, this is one book that will not disappoint. From Danish Warlords, to Vikings, to the lords of the lands, these battles will tell the tales in blood of the struggle to create what will ultimately be known as England.

Highly recommend!

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a well written nonfiction book that tells the story of the Saxon battles that turned Wessex into England. I like that it draws its information from primary sources.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

An excellent book if you looking to get into early military history or if your a student of the subject, you will enjoy this book.

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The History Fella

A very well researched historical overview. As a student at school I was a big fan of history and it was my best subject. But I couldn't get into academic history books as they rather intimidated me in their size and depth. This had a highly manageable level of detail whilst providing expertise.

A highly enjoyable experience that I learned a lot from.

NetGalley, Matthew Higgins

5 out of 5

It is a superbly researched and thought through book about an Era that has always fascinated me.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

"It is an interesting and enjoyable read."

Norfolk Family History Society - 'The Ancestor' magazine

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I quite enjoyed reading this. This is a nice, micro-view of England's Military history. This a good foundational read for anyone interested in English history.

I found it to be an engaging, thought-provoking read. I did have to have Google ready to look up a few maps, terms, and people to better follow along...but that's probably because I'm American, and might knowledge of British history is pretty basic.

I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in Ancient history, English history, or military history.

NetGalley, April Allison

This is a well researched, in-depth look at all the kings and wars that built England. I have read many books about this era in the last year and it was another great one. Every chapter had footnotes and maps. It was expressed in a way that was easy to follow in the small amount of 225 pages. I would recommend this for new learners and old. This was interesting read that helped me learn more with every chapter.

NetGalley, Naomi Sutherland

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A fantastic overview of the events that shaped England into what we now know. This is a compelling, detailed and engrossing collection of the battles the Anglo-saxons had to face against The Great Heathen Army and the ultimate rise of Wessex to the dominating Saxon kingdom. The book does a fantastic job and providing enough detail to hold your attention and keep you interested without bogging down with so much that most people would be turned off.

A great read for anyone interested in the history of England, the Norse/Vikings or military history lovers in general.

NetGalley, Paula Cwikla

About Arthur C Wright

Born in North Staffordshire, ARTHUR WRIGHT has spent most of his life in Essex and for thirty years he was a museum curator, ultimately responsible for four museums. A military historian by training, the scope of his professional responsibilities encouraged him to focus on social history. Two of the museum buildings being medieval, he was drawn into this period and then developed a forty-year obsession with the Domesday Book, finding that there was no mathematically demonstrable solution to its cryptic statistics in any published work. Wrestling with the logic and arithmetic he deduced it was possible to decode its contents, eventually publishing his research. He is also a ‘living history’ educator and craftsman with a wide range of manual and traditional skills.

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