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An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England
An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England
Author: Peter Hunter Blair
This is a lucid, authoritative and well-balanced account of Anglo-Saxon history. Peter Hunter Blair's book has achieved classic status, and is published now with a new, up-to-date bibliography prepared by Simon Keynes. Between the end of the Roman occupation and the coming of the Normans, England was settled by Germanic races; the kingdom as a p...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780521216500
ISBN-10: 0521216508
Publication Date: 10/28/1977
Pages: 395
Edition: 2
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback
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"An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England" (hereafter, IASE) is exactly that. It is fairly thorough for an introductory book and would be well-suited for someone new to A-S England history, but more advanced A-S scholars might find it a bit too basic. It is also written in a rather dry, "just the facts" style, which made it, for me anyway, a really long read. While I found it very interesting, and certainly instructive, I can't say it was "a fun read". IASE is organized topically, rather than chronologically, however it is chronological within each section. The information is organized very well, and Blair combines various recorded written, linguistic, and archaeological sources to provide as complete a picture as possible while still maintaining an introductory level of information. Blair writes in his preface, "The study of this period is at heart a study of the sources and because this ought to be understood even by the novice, I have tried to tell him something about the evidence on which the narrative is based, about its weakness as well as its strength." Blair uses footnotes, a format I prefer to endnotes, and makes good use of the included maps, diagrams, and illustrations. Numerous linguistic explanations offer an added bonus to readers interested in a very basic introduction to A-S etymology.
The chapters are as follows:
Ch 1 - "The Foundations of England", 8 sections from "The last days of Roman Britain" to "Movements toward unity".
Ch 2 - "Britain and the Vikings", 8 sections from "The Scandinavian background" to "Edward the Confessor and the end of the Anglo-Saxon state".
Ch 3 - "The Church", 9 sections, from "St. Augustine's mission" to "The last century of the Anglo-Saxon Church".
Ch 4 - "Government", 5 sections from "The rule of king" to "Local government".
Ch 5 - "The Economy", 3 sections from "The country" to "Towns and trade".
Ch 6 - "Letters", 6 sections from "Language" to "Learning in the new monasticism".

The book also includes 16 plates (illustrations), 9 maps, 7 text-figures (diagrams, floor plans, linguistic charts), an extensive bibliography, and index.

Overall, I would rate this book as an excellent introduction to A-S history for the beginner-to-intermediate student, but more advanced scholars would probably do better to acquire the books and sources Blair draws on for IASE.
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