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The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #18)

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  106 ratings  ·  22 reviews
First published as part of The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, John Blair's title covers the Anglo-Saxon period, from the emergence of the earliest English settlements to the Norman victory in 1066. This book is a brief introduction to the political, social, religious and cultural history of Anglo-Saxon England.
Paperback, 104 pages
Published July 11th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published August 10th 2000)
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Not all of these VSI books are good, but this one absolutely is, although I think that my reading of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon series and certainly Duckett's Alfred book made it much more accessible. Hah. I always thought that beginning with engrossing historical fiction was the best introduction. Here, it has made an "introduction" easier reading. Now I think I'm in good shape to start on Fisher's book and several others that I have.

This indeed does give a good overview, and has interesting illu
Alex Telander
Number eighteen in the series, The Anglo-Saxon Age is a very useful tool for those taking History 316 or 351, covering the Middle Ages, as well as Early Western Civ. Not many people know the exact dates for the Anglo-Saxon period (roughly 410, with the Roman withdrawal, to 1066 with the arrival of William the Conqueror), and even less know of some of its kings with names like Aethelbald, Edmund, and Eadgar. Well, it’s all here in this little book, touching on what all the kings did, including an ...more
Eric Edstrom
I learned a ton from this slim little book. The author does presuppose a familiarity with the geography of England. I wish there was a pronunciation guide for some of the odder names. Æthelflæd, for instance. Still, a very good intro to a subject I knew almost nothing about.
Exactly what it needed to be, a quick 10,000 foot view of about 500 years of "English" history, from the vacuum after the Romans, to the Angles and Saxons, to Offa, to the Norman Conquest. I had taken a course in the History of the Common Law in which we covered some topics in this period, like Alfred, the role of the church, and emphasizing the legal structures that emerged in Anglo-Saxon England, and so my curiosity has been piqued in Anglo-Saxon and Common Law history. Blair's treatment of An ...more
John Wyss
This was a really a very good introduction. It was easy to follow and had a lot of info. It is just about perfect for a short intro to the Anglo-Saxons. I would recommend reading this before reading more indepth works or taking a class on the subject. That way, one would be familiar with the terms and figures before going into more detail.
In this case, you can judge a book by its cover because it gives you exactly what the title says: a very short introduction to the Anglo-Saxon Age.

It covers all of the major people and events from 400AD--when the first Anglo-Saxon mercenaries came to Britain after the collapse of the Roman Empire to 1066 when the Normans deposed the Anglo-Saxon kings for the final time.

It doesn't go into any great detail, but provides an excellent overview to the period which can prove very useful when reading m
A very good whistle-stop tour of the essentials of the Anglo-Saxon age. I feel I gained a good grasp of the basic structure of this era which I can now build upon with more detailed readings.
A good background on Anglo-Saxon history.
Daniel Wright
A solid installment in an excellent series. The Anglo-Saxon era in particular is much neglected in school history lessons, leaving the impression with many that this was just a "dark age" about which nothing is known. Though it is the case that sources are rather thinner than for any other period, there is still a good deal to find out about the founding age of a nation that has reached every corner of the world. I certainly learnt a lot.
The 'short introduction' series are just that, only 78 pages but crammed with information. However they do presuppose a certain level of knowledge before you start but are good for placing things in an appropriate context. The timeline towards the end of the book is particularly useful just to get the chronology of events and 'monarchs' clear, and in my case reading the book 3 times also helped.
So onto the next one.
This is one of the best of the "Very Short Introduction" series. It is full of good information and it gets across the complexity of the Anglo-Saxon age, even while it makes clear that there was no single concept of "anglo-saxon" or "English" at the time. A good introduction.
Margaret Sankey
Another strong entry in the series, as John Blair, the well-published master of early medieval English history at Queen's College Oxford, gives a streamlined survey based on the latest research, from the Roman collapse to 1066.
More like a very short summary, this book was written towards people with a basis in the subject. I still found it interesting, but would have liked to understand the subject better.
Matthew Hurley
Really helpful framework for understanding the detailed narratives of Bede or William of Malmesbury. The Anglo-Saxon period pretty much rocked.
Too many kings! It's all a jumble and I don't have a better understanding of the age beyond realizing the breadth of the Danish & Norse invasions.
Great little book! That period of history was blurry in my head, and this author sorts it out quite neatly and keeps it interesting.
Steve Mitchell
This is a very easy to read introduction to the subject and if anything is too short rather than overloaded with detail.
Lee Broderick
Succinct introduction to a period of Mediaeval history which is as reliant upon archaeology as on history.
Feb 12, 2008 John added it
75pp only, but supposed to be a great intro to the period.
Robert Gable
A Very Short (and Complicated) Introduction.
Exactly what it should be. Very worthwhile.
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Feb 23, 2015
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