In each wapentake there was to be a body consisting of the twelve leading thegns who, after swearing upon relics which they held in their hands, that they would not accuse the innocent or shield the guilty, were to go out and arrest men of ill repute against whom the reeve was taking proceedings There is abundant evidence to justify the view that this sworn jury of presentment, an aristocratic body, is in origin a Scandinavian and not an Anglo Saxon institution Bodies of twelve doomsmen are familiar in Scandinavian history and literature and their antiquity is stressed by the belief expressed in Norse mythology that the gods themselves were twelve in number The exact functions of such doomsmen are difficult to discern The innocence or guilt of an accused man brought before the hundred or wapentake court, and indeed before any higher court, was normally decided either by his ability to produce the required oath in company with his oath helpers or by the ordeal Yet some element of judgment rested with this sworn jury, as may be inferred from a later passage in thelred s Wantage code which states that a verdict dom in which the thegn s are unanimous shall be held valid, but if they disagree, the verdict of eight of them shall be held valid and those who are outvoted shall pay a fine This is the earliest recorded occurrence in England of the principle that the view of a majority should prevail, and it may be observed that though the code containing it is written in Old English, the custom which it defines is wholly Scandinavian. This Third Edition Of Peter Hunter Blair S Classic Account Of Anglo Saxon History Includes A Completely New Introduction Written By Simon Keynes The First Two Chapters Survey Anglo Saxon England Its Wars And Invasions, People And Kings The Remaining Chapters Cover Specific Aspects Of Its Culture Church, Government, Economy And Literary Achievement Blair Uses Illustrations And A Wide Range Of Sources Documents, Archaeological Evidence And Place Names To Depict The Period Realistically Keynes Has Also Prepared A Thoroughly Updated Bibliography Second Edition Hb Second Edition Pb I loved the content and the tone of the book The author assumes a lot of knowledge of the subject and main players in Anglo Saxon England but does a good job tying things together I, personally was not acquainted with all the kings, monks, bishops, attackers, and manuscripts but a quick check on line when I was a bit lost brought it into context. Maybe if you re a grad student in history, this might be an introduction If you re a lay reader, this might be a tad much in the detail department Blair commands the material, but the material itself is a tad on the dry side I say that as someone who s read a fair amount of books about late antiquity and the middle ages Part of that is attributable to the obvious fact that Anglo Saxon england was a brutish, hobbseian kind of place Certainly its a thorough read, but it lacks fun and is a slooooow read for a book of 350 pages. A very hard book to rate On the one hand, Blair s book demonstrates a breadth of knowledge, organization, and understanding that is second to none and is an excellent introduction to someone wanting to learn about the Dark Ages in England s history As such, the book deserves five stars But the reader, while Blair is clear and can be lively in his style, the material is quite dry and in terms of my enjoyment of the reading of this book, I would only give it three stars as being at best average Averaging the two I get four stars which seems to be a consensus In the end, I recommend this to the person who is interested in this book for its content than for pleasure of reading the book as such. Well researched and updated The frequent going back and forth in time while relating history is sometimes difficult to follow if one is attuned, like me, to prefer things presented chronologically The years from the mid 350 s AD to the Norman Conquest in 1066 AD are understandably difficult to research and praise is given to the author for a good compilation The maps helped to picture in one s mind the development and conquests of the various kingdoms Really wished the chronology had been addressed better. This is one of those textbooks that is quite an easy read I recommend it as a starting point on the Anglo Saxons. Good information, bad presentation The author liberally sprinkles his text with Latin words, when he could easily have used Englsih ones, and the style comes off as painfully academic arrogant Blah It was filled with some very interesting information regarding Anglo Saxon history, but was noticeably lacking in Alfred s life so I assume the book is meant to be read in conjunction with Asser s Life of King Alfred the Great My personal opinion is that if you want to read something interesting and packed with info about the Anglo Saxons, turn to James Campbell s The Anglo Saxons That s not Joseph Campbell, it s James Campbell, a totally different guy Campbell s book is well written, is filled with photographs which sounds cheesy until you see the photographs , and is much denser than it looks Plus, small nitpicky thing here the printing in the Campbell book is much cleaner than in the Hunter Blair book the one I m reviewing now The Hunter Blair looks like it was printed in the 60s, from printing blocks, never a good sign in a 2003 book. Before I begin on the content, I should make it clear that I ve actually read the volume from the Folio Society s beautiful History of England series, which is titled simply Anglo Saxon England The text of the volume, however, comes from An Introduction to Anglo Saxon England, the most recent edition, by Peter Hunter Blair, so if you go looking for the book, look for that title unless of course you want the lovely Folio edition as well, for which I could hardly blame you.The book is, as you would expect, a survey of the history of Anglo Saxon England, spanning from the departure of the Romans in the fifth century all the way up to the Norman Conquest in the eleventh This is, I must admit, a topic of quite some personal interest, and much of my positive opinion of the book is down to the breadth of knowledge it imparts about its material.If you re not that interested in the topic, I can t recommend the book the writing is sound enough, but uninspiring, and not likely to grip a casual reader But if you are, Blair presents the evidence about the period quite frankly, clearly labelling any speculation or extrapolation The book is divided by topics, but chronological within topics I don t particularly like the topic based division, but I can understand why it was done.The narrative or political history of the Anglo Saxons is perhaps the most interesting piece, and this comes first of all, providing a frame of reference for the other chapters while covering all of the juicer bits This has the unfortunate effect of giving the rest of the book a somewhat duller aspect, though it s not without good content Other highlights for me were the chapters on the governance and language of the Anglo Saxons, particularly the place name evidence That last section actually inspired me to learn the Elder Futhark runic system from Wikipedia While I can certainly see the need for it, the content regarding the Church failed to interest me, and this becomes a bit of a problem, as much evidence from the period is preserved only by the Church.As a scholarly introduction to the period, I found the book quite suitable, and I ll no doubt be consulting the list of further reading for the topics I found most tantalising It s not, however, the sort of book you d hand to a child the evidence based presentation keeps the reader alert to the limits of historical study, rather than presenting a tale of ancient times A good book, if one with a rather specific remit.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England book, this is one of the most wanted Peter Hunter Blair author readers around the world.
- 383 pages
- An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England
- Peter Hunter Blair
- 04 May 2019 Peter Hunter Blair