AEthelstan: The First King of England
The powerful and innovative King ∆thelstan reigned only briefly (924-939), yet his achievements during those eventful fifteen years changed the course of English history. He won spectacular military victories (most notably at Brunanburh), forged unprecedented political connections across Europe, and succeeded in creating the first unified kingdom of the English. To claim for him the title of "first English monarch" is no exaggeration.
In this nuanced portrait of ∆thelstan, Sarah Foot offers the first full account of the king ever written. She traces his life through the various spheres in which he lived and worked, beginning with the intimate context of his family, then extending outward to his unusual multiethnic royal court, the Church and his kingdom, the wars he conducted, and finally his death and legacy. Foot describes a sophisticated man who was not only a great military leader but also a worthy king. He governed brilliantly, developed creative ways to project his image as a ruler, and devised strategic marriage treaties and gift exchanges to cement alliances with the leading royal and ducal houses of Europe. ∆thelstan’s legacy, seen in the new light of this masterful biography, is inextricably connected to the very forging of England and early English identity.
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Why is it that us Brits remember our defeat at the hands of the Normans, but seem to have largely forgotten the West Saxon ruling dynasty who effectively made England? Alfred is at best remembered for ... Read full review
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Abbey Alfred’s Anglo—Saxon Anglo—Saxon England Anglorum appears archbishop battle of Brunanburh battleﬁeld beneﬁts bishops Breton Britain British brother Cambridge Canterbury Carolingian Cenwald charters Chronicle Church circle claim coinage coins contemporary coronation council crown cult Danes Danish death discussed Dumville Dunstan Eadgifu Eadgyth ealdormen early medieval Edmund Edward the Elder Ethelstan Ethelweard Exeter father ﬁgure ﬁnd ﬁrst Flodoard Frankia Frankish further Gesta gifts gospel book grant History holy Keynes King Alfred King Ethelstan king’s kingdom kingship land Lapidge Liber Vitae London manuscript marriage Mercia military Minster monastic narrative northern Northumbria ofﬁce Old English Oswald Ottonian Oxford perhaps PEthelstan’s PEthelstan’s reign poem political realm reﬂected relics role rule ruler saint Scandinavian Scots signiﬁcant sister speciﬁcally St Cuthbert Stenton suggested surviving tenth century thegns Timothy Reuter verse Welsh Wessex West Saxon West Saxon king West Saxon royal William of Malmesbury Winchester witness—lists Wormald Wulfhelm York