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The Early Anglo-Saxon Kings (Hardback)

P&S History > British History > Anglo-Saxons & Vikings

By Tony Sullivan
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 240
Illustrations: Mono integrated
ISBN: 9781399084178
Published: 3rd February 2023



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The Early Anglo-Saxon Kings takes a new look at the adventus Saxonum, the arrival of the Saxons, recorded in the earliest literary sources. As the Roman provincial structure fragmented, new cultural identities emerged. In fifth century Britain whatever sense of pax Romana remained gave way to a war-band culture which dominated both Brythonic and Germanic peoples. Villas left abandoned were replaced by the mead-hall. These halls now rang with the songs and poems of bards and scops. Tales of famous battles such as mons Badonicus and Cattraeth filled the air.

Out of the ashes of the former Roman diocese new kingdoms emerged. One major factor was the settlement of significant numbers of Germanic peoples in Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries. The first kings of these peoples are shrouded in legends and myth, such as the leaders of the first group of mercenaries, Hengest and Horsa, as well as Ælle of the South Saxons, Cerdic and Cynric and later Ceawlin of Wessex. The book takes the reader from the early-fifth century through to the mid-seventh century and the death of the last great pagan Anglo-Saxon king, Penda of Mercia.

An entertaining journey across the landscape of Britain in search of battle-sites and burial-mounds, this book brings to life the world that produced Y Gododdin and Beowulf; a world that saw warlords and kings carve out new kingdoms from the carcass of post-Roman Britain.

I read some historical fiction set at the time of the early Anglo-Saxon kings and this book made me learn something more about the historical setting and the kings.
It's a good book to start learning about this historical time.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My understanding of Anglo-Saxons, before this book, was shallow. Cartoons and contemporary movies and tv series were all I had to base it on. My South African history didn’t really cover them. Despite this, I followed Tony Sullivan’s deep dive into the early Anglo-Saxon Kings and found it a scintillating read! I especially appreciated the way in which the author recognised where our definitive knowledge ends and speculation begins…and there is a lot of speculation.

This period of history is full of questions but I found the interesting, person-centred, approach different from some history books which go from battle to battle. It speaks to the way of life, how global factors affected the transitions, and how these Kings contributed to the Britain we have today.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, I read it through in quick time wanting to know what happened next! If you love learning more about history, I highly recommend it. It’s a five out of five on enJOYment scale.

NetGalley, Kelly Hodgkins

This is definitely a great book to have people start with when looking to learn more about the kings and their archaeological presence. It was well-researched and eloquently written.

NetGalley, Oscar Brown

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An interesting and informative look at Britain after the Romans left that is a must read for anyone looking to learn more about the era of Arthurian legends.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

Mr. Tony Sullivan has produced a very serviceable history of early England. Pen and Sword continue to put out quality products by authors who are passionate about their subjects.


About Tony Sullivan

Tony Sullivan lives in South East London with his wife and three children. His first book, King Arthur: Man or Myth? was published in 2020. Three further books followed in 2022: The Battles of King Arthur investigating the famous battle list from the Historia Brittonum; The Real Gladiator, looking at the historical reality behind the 2000 film; and The Roman King Arthur?: Lucius Artorius Castus, which dismantles the Artorius-Arthur theory and places this historical Roman officer in the reigns of Severus and Caracalla.

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