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The central argument of The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century is that the English kingdom which existed at the time of the Norman Conquest was defined by the geographical parameters of a set of administrative reforms implemented in the mid- to late tenth century, and not by a vision of English unity going back to Alfred the Great (871-899). In the first half of the tenth century, successive members of the Cerdicing dynasty established a loose domination over the other great potentates in Britain. They were celebrated as kings of the whole island, but even in their Wessex heartlands they probably had few means to routinely regulate the conduct of the general populace. Detailed analysis of coins, shires, hundreds, and wapentakes suggests that it was only around the time of Edgar (957/9-975) that the Cerdicing kings developed the relatively standardised administrative apparatus of the so-called 'Anglo-Saxon state'. This substantially increased their ability to impinge upon the lives of ordinary people living between the Channel and the Tees, and served to mark that area off from the rest of the island. The resultant cleft undermined the idea of a pan-British realm, and demarcated the early English kingdom as a distinct and coherent political unit. In this volume, George Molyneaux places the formation of the English kingdom in a European perspective, and challenges the notion that its development was exceptional: the Cerdicings were only one of several ruling dynasties around the fringes of the former Carolingian Empire for which the late ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries were a time of territorial expansion and consolidation.
From the impact of the first monasteries in the seventh century, to the emergence of the local parochial system five hundred years later, the Church was a force for change in Anglo-Saxon society. It shaped culture and ideas, social and economic behaviour, and the organization of landscape and settlement. In this innovative study, John Blair brings together written, topographical, and archaeological evidence to build a multi-dimensional picture of what local churches and localcommunities meant to each other in early England.
This groundbreaking study of coinage in early medieval England is the first to take account of the very significant additions to the corpus of southern English coins discovered in recent years and to situate this evidence within the wider historical context of Anglo-Saxon England and its continental neighbours. Its nine chapters integrate historical and numismatic research to explore who made early medieval coinage, who used it and why. The currency emerges as a significant resource accessible across society and, through analysis of its production, circulation and use, the author shows that control over coinage could be a major asset. This control was guided as much by ideology as by economics and embraced several levels of power, from kings down to individual craftsmen. Thematic in approach, this innovative book offers an engaging, wide-ranging account of Anglo-Saxon coinage as a unique and revealing gauge for the interaction of society, economy and government.
Beginning shortly after Charlemagne's death in 814, the inhabitants of his historical empire looked back upon his reign and saw in it an exemplar of Christian universality - Christendom. They mapped contemporary Christendom onto the past and so, during the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, the borders of his empire grew with each retelling, almost always including the Christian East. Although the pull of Jerusalem on the West seems to have been strong during the eleventh century, it had a more limited effect on the Charlemagne legend. Instead, the legend grew during this period because of a peculiar fusion of ideas, carried forward from the ninth century but filtered through the social, cultural, and intellectual developments of the intervening years. Paradoxically, Charlemagne became less important to the Charlemagne legend. The legend became a story about the Frankish people, who believed they had held God's favour under Charlemagne and held out hope that they could one day reclaim their special place in sacred history. Indeed, popular versions of the Last Emperor legend, which spoke of a great ruler who would reunite Christendom in preparation for the last battle between good and evil, promised just this to the Franks. Ideas of empire, identity, and Christian religious violence were potent reagents. The mixture of these ideas could remind men of their Frankishness and move them, for example, to take up arms, march to the East, and reclaim their place as defenders of the faith during the First Crusade. An Empire of Memory uses the legend of Charlemagne, an often-overlooked current in early medieval thought, to look at how the contours of the relationship between East and West moved across centuries, particularly in the period leading up to the First Crusade.
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book Robert Tombs’s momentous The English and Their History is both a startlingly fresh and a uniquely inclusive account of the people who have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. The English first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognizable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history. The English have come a long way from those first precarious days of invasion and conquest, with many spectacular changes of fortune. Their political, economic and cultural contacts have left traces for good and ill across the world. This book describes their history and its meanings from their beginnings in the monasteries of Northumbria and the wetlands of Wessex to the cosmopolitan energy of today’s England. Robert Tombs draws out important threads running through the story, including participatory government, language, law, religion, the land and the sea, and ever-changing relations with other peoples. Not the least of these connections are the ways the English have understood their own history, have argued about it, forgotten it and yet been shaped by it. These diverse and sometimes conflicting understandings are an inherent part of their identity. Rather to their surprise, as ties within the United Kingdom loosen, the English are suddenly embarking on a new chapter. The English and Their History, the first single-volume work on this scale for more than half a century, and which incorporates a wealth of recent scholarship, presents a challenging modern account of this immense and continuing story, bringing out the strength and resilience of English government, the deep patterns of division and also the persistent capacity to come together in the face of danger.
Law and Order in Anglo-Saxon England explores English legal culture and practice across the Anglo-Saxon period, beginning with the essentially pre-Christian laws enshrined in writing by King Æthelberht of Kent in c. 600 and working forward to the Norman Conquest of 1066. It attempts to escape the traditional retrospective assumptions of legal history, focused on the late twelfth-century Common Law, and to establish a new interpretative framework for the subject, more sensitive to contemporary cultural assumptions and practical realities. The focus of the volume is on the maintenance of order: what constituted good order; what forms of wrongdoing were threatening to it; what roles kings, lords, communities, and individuals were expected to play in maintaining it; and how that worked in practice. Its core argument is that the Anglo-Saxons had a coherent, stable, and enduring legal order that lacks modern analogies: it was neither state-like nor stateless, and needs to be understood on its own terms rather than as a variant or hybrid of these models. Tom Lambert elucidates a distinctively early medieval understanding of the tension between the interests of individuals and communities, and a vision of how that tension ought to be managed that, strikingly, treats strongly libertarian and communitarian features as complementary. Potentially violent, honour-focused feuding was an integral aspect of legitimate legal practice throughout the period, but so too was fearsome punishment for forms of wrongdoing judged socially threatening. Law and Order in Anglo-Saxon England charts the development of kings' involvement in law, in terms both of their authority to legislate and their ability to influence local practice, presenting a picture of increasingly ambitious and effective royal legal innovation that relied more on the cooperation of local communal assemblies than kings' sparse and patchy network of administrative officials.
Since the Anglo-Norman period itself, the relations beween the English and the Normans have formed a subject of lively debate. For most of that time, however, complacency about the inevitability of assimilation and of the Anglicization of Normans after 1066 has ruled. This book first challenges that complacency, then goes on to provide the fullest explanation yet for why the two peoples merged and the Normans became English. Drawing on anthropological theory, the latest scholarship on Anglo-Norman England, and sources ranging from charters and legal documents to saints' lives and romances, it provides a complex exploration of ethnic relations on the levels of personal interaction, cultural assimilation, and the construction of identity. As a result, the work provides an important case study in pre-modern ethnic relations that combines both old and new approaches, and sheds new light on some of the most important developments in English history.

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