Anglo-Saxons by Marc Morris
The Anglo-Saxons, by Marc Morris.
Again, another superb read recommended by the History Teacher’s Book Club. Ag
ain, an era I knew little about – and again an era I am now desperately keen to learn more about and spin-off into schemes of work and new lessons. It also made me storm through the ‘The Last
Kingdom’ series on Netflix – I’d read Cornwall’s first book in the series but never took it any further and had never seen the TV series. This is no longer the case.
As I was reading I was making notes – notes that I have now… deleted. So. Ah. I did save some highlights on my Kindle and in searching for my notes I came across some older notes I’d made on Marc Morris’ King John book – so I will write those up next too!
So, without my notes at hand, I’ll just create a list of ‘top-takeaways
’ and leave it at that…
1. Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria, and East Anglia – that’s all there is. Oh, and Wales – and the Scots. 4 Competing English Kingdoms.
2. King Alfred does well and almost unites them and his children take it further but they are frustrated by Viking raiders.
3. The Vikings eventually adopt Christianity too.
4. The impact of Saxons on language – the French days of the week are named after Roman Gods (which I knew) but the English version are named after Saxon gods (Which I didn’t). Tiw, Woden, Thunor and Frig are all Germanic gods. Who knew.
5. The period between the Romans leaving and the ‘Britons’ being in charge before the Saxons arrived sounds fascinating and is covered in the first chapter. What little is known sounds like real Games of Thrones stuff and it feels like an era rich for further study and interpretation.
6. A volcanic eruption in Iceland ion 536 spewed enough ask into the sky as to dim the sun and bring about record low temperatures and crop failures across Europe. 536 – 545 was the coldest decade in the last 2000 years as a result. Scary to think, once again, that mother nature is our true master.
7. The word ‘Lord’ comes from ‘hlaford’ – which meant ‘bringer of bread’ – the idea was that you submitted to a Lord in exchange for certain protections or expectations – like food.
8. Ipswich, my home town, was once home to one of only three Royal Mints – and made coins for King Offa.
9. The chapter on Wilfred, a troublesome priest, is especially revealing about the troubles faced by Christianity.
10. Monastic orders – with their peaceful inhabitants and abundance of gold were juicy targets for raiding Vikings.