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Edward the Elder is perhaps the most neglected of the Anglo-Saxon kings. Overshadowed by both his father Alfred and his successor Æthelstan, he did much on his own to expand the domination of Wessex across all of England. This book is a series of papers presented in 1999 at a conference on Edward the Elder held at the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies. Twenty-two papers by some of the most noted experts in their fields explore the archaeology, charter evidence, textiles, dynastic marriages, coinage, foreign relations, scriptorium production, and more of Edward the Elder's reign. Of particular interest is the consideration of Edward's activities as king. Was he merely continuing his father Alfred the Great's program of recovering the Danelaw, fortifying the burhs, and incorporating Mercia into a comprehensive "Kingdom of the English"? Or did Edward follow his own policies in light of the opportunities he faced? An outstanding multi-disciplinary insight into this much overlooked Anglo-Saxon king's rule.
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King Edward the Elder (871-924) was the son and greatly overshadowed heir of Alfred the Great. This series of essays attempts to remedy the the absence of published research and prove that he "arguably did as much as any other individual to construct a singly, south-centered, Anglo-Saxon Kingdom." However, the amount of evidence from his reign is almost negligible in comparison to his famous father. And sadly, he is ignored by the Frankish chronicles (who wrote key sources on Alfred's reign) and many other non-English writers as well nor was he praised by his contemporaries.
This essay set contains essays from very respectable historians on this period who explore Archaeological evidence, written sources, coinage, etc for Edward's reign. The essays are arranged in a chronological manner with strategically placed essays that deal with more broad overviews before delving deeper into the facets of his reign. For example the essay 'Edward, king of the Anglo-Saxons' is followed by 'The Coinage of Edward the Elder.' This also has frequent charts, pictures, maps, photographs, and lists that assist the reader and make the read much more interesting. One of the great benefits of having a collection of essays is the ease in ignoring some that deal with an element of history that you might not be interested in and simply move on. Likewise, some essays have extreme detail that may interest someone who actually wants to see how the historians conclusions have been reached. A must buy for anyone truly interested in Anglo-Saxon England. Another great asset are the topics that a single historian writing a book might ignore such as textiles, crafts, and coins.Read more ›
As yet there is no biography of Edward the Elder who, had he not been the man he was, might have allowed Alfred's incipient development of "England" to fall apart. I suspect that the main reason why no biogaphy exists is the scant sources. This anthology is as close as one will get if looking for a life of Alfred's son. I bought it with the hope that it would be an adequate substitute for a biography. I was not disappointed.
Another reviewer here lists the titles of the various papers. The first five (Higham-Lyon) comprise 78 pages and are close to biographical form. All focus on Edward's life and reign per se through what the written sources and coinage tell us. Several of the later papers put Edward's reign in the context of larger frameworks like the West Saxon tradition of dynastic marriage, the view from Ireland, and the history and role of royal property in the 9th and early 10th centuries. Many of the later papers are also on specific issues that I found interesting. "Edward the Elder's Danelaw" clarifies (at least as much as can be done) a vague but commonly used term for the section of England under Scandinavian influence. "The Shiring of Mercia - Again" is an explanation of the roots of some of the English counties. The papers on the North-West frontier, on York, and on the northern kings give a nice overview of the information available for these areas at the time of Edward. Much of this is based on the latest archaeological and linguistic evidence. I especially enjoyed two of the later papers. "The Northern Hoards" is about the hoards of coins (each hoard given a name) that date from roughly Edward's time. The author talks about the discovery of the hoards and gives an overview of what each contained.Read more ›
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