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

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  198 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
John Blair's Very Short Introduction to the Anglo-Saxon Age covers 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 and it is the most comprehensive and authoritative short guide to the Anglo-Saxon age available.
Paperback, 104 pages
Published July 11th 2002 by Oxford University Press (first published August 10th 2000)
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Terry
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
A good introduction to the Anglo-Saxon era in Britain. It is indeed very short, but given the relative paucity of data (esp. for the earliest years of the period) that’s not surprising. It covers just about everything you need in an overview and gives you plenty of sources for further study. I don’t see a need to go over the contents of each section and give the history of the period in precis in this review (since this is exactly what the book itself does) so I will restrict myself to a few ite ...more
Shawn Mooney
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Some of these Very Short Introductions have really sucked. This one didn't, but neither was it awesome. I learned quite a bit, though, in preparation for reading Aitcheson's novel The Harrowing, which is set in the early days after the Norman conquest.
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #18), by John Blair

John Blair's Very Short Introduction to the Anglo-Saxon Age covers 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 and it is the most comprehensive and authoritative short guide to the Anglo-Saxon age available.
Monica
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Olivier
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
"The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction", as the title implies, delivers the history of the Anglo-Saxon era. It is concise and to the point, and basically offers a summary of half a millennium worth of history in 74 (small) pages. Whereas some passages may be a bit tougher to get through (it is non-fiction after all), it remains, overall, an interesting and educative read.
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
Declan Waters
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting concept well executed.

An exceptionally small book, but also with small typeface which makes the 90 pages (actually 75 before references) pack enough detail to read in an evening.

Most of the information included I already knew and - by its nature - there was limited (or short!) information on many of kings and all of the battles - which I'm used to reading in more detail thanks to Osprey books.

None-the-less an interesting book on the history and I'll keep an eye out for future bo
...more
Josh
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Elizabeth Oladunni
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I really liked this tiny, little book. I should have read it before I read Britain after Rome. This gives you a great overview over the whole period.

I also liked the focus it had on 'big history', it didn't focus too much on the tiny details that wouldn't have made sense to someone who hasn't studied this period before.

Goes through themes such as the Christianisation of Britain, the Kings, the changing geography of England, immigration and the raids by the Vikings which culminated in Cnut becomi
...more
Robert
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Daniel Wright
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Graham
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
John Wyss
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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.
M. Ashraf
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vsi
It is a very short book maybe one of the shortest of the series so far,
but I think it was precise and gave a quick recap of the Anglo-Saxon Age of Great Britain
It didn't focus much on tiny details and it managed to cover a nearly of 500 years of history.
and for that I think it is a very good book of the VSIs'
Margaret Sankey
Sep 04, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Eric Edstrom
Feb 15, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Kyle
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
The problem is it's too short: you get a sentence or two—at most, and rarely, a single paragraph—on each figure/event Blair deems worthy of entering the annals of Anglo-Saxon history. It's like reading a chronology of bullet-pointed events. Would have been better served reading Wikipedia articles.
Beth
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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.
John
Feb 12, 2008 added it
75pp only, but supposed to be a great intro to the period.
Jeremy
May 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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.
Lee Broderick
Nov 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: archaeology, history
Succinct introduction to a period of Mediaeval history which is as reliant upon archaeology as on history.
Steve Mitchell
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a very easy to read introduction to the subject and if anything is too short rather than overloaded with detail.
Heulwen
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Keeko
May 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great little book! That period of history was blurry in my head, and this author sorts it out quite neatly and keeps it interesting.
Darlene
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Pam
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, dave
Despite it's short length, this book is dry and boring. After two nights of trying and falling asleep way too early, I just gave up.
Brian
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Practical.
Andreas Jungherr
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very good basic introduction to Ango-Saxon England--its politics, wars, religion, administration, and social structure.
Douglas Wilson
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Good.
Áine
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it
A good background on Anglo-Saxon history.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

William John Blair, FSA, FBA is a British historian, archaeologist, and academic, who specialises in Anglo-Saxon England. He is Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford. (Source: Wikipedia)
More about John Blair...

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