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Anglo-Saxon Thegn, AD 449-1066 (Warrior) [Paperback]

Mark Harrison , Gerry Embleton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Nov 1993
The collapse of Roman rule in Britain was not so much a sudden catastrophe as a long and drawn-out decline. The 'Celtic' Britons retreated gradually to the highland areas of Wales, Cornwall and the south-west of Scotland. Control of the fertile eastern lowlands was lost to warriors of Germanic origin who migrated from the Continent. These Germanic conquerors have become known to history as the 'Anglo-Saxons'. They were to dominate the lowland zone of Britain until their final defeat at Hastings in 1066. This title gives an insight into the everyday life, equipment, dress, battle tactics and life on campaign of the typical Anglo-Saxon warrior of this period - the thegn.

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Anglo-Saxon Thegn, AD 449-1066 (Warrior) + Saxon, Viking and Norman (Men-at-Arms Series: 85) + Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars: Anglo-Celtic Warfare, A.D.410-1066 (Men-at-arms)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (25 Nov 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1855323494
  • ISBN-13: 978-1855323490
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 25 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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The collapse of Roman rule in Britain was not so much a sudden catastrophe, as a long, and drawn-out decline. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Osprey range of military history titles has an excellent reputation for detail and historical accuracy, and "Anglo-Saxon Thegn, AD 449-1066" by Mark Harrison is one of its finest examples. Though only 64 pages long, the book contains a wealth of information regarding the lives, equipment, training and tactics of the noble warriors who formed the backbone of Anglo-Saxon armies throughout the period, and charts their development over the course of several centuries.

The documentary, pictorial and archaeological evidence for this period is incredibly sparse. Nevertheless, Harrison expertly draws it all together to create a coherent and convincing whole. His style of writing is clear and succinct, making the subject easy to understand even for the reader with no previous knowledge of the period, and where appropriate he is careful to state his sources. The text is supplemented on almost every page by black-and-white photographs both of contemporary artefacts and documents, as well as of modern re-enactors. By far and away the most helpful feature for visualising the thegn's appearance, however, are the centre pages - 12 colour plates of artist's impressions, depicting typical thegns from the early, middle and late periods, together with their equipment (helmet, spear, sword and shield) as it developed over time. Unfortunately, since "Anglo-Saxon Thegn" was originally published in 1993 the Bibliography is somewhat out of date, which limits the opportunities for further reading for the reader wishing to discover more, but this is only a minor failing in an otherwise excellent book.

All in all, "Anglo-Saxon Thegn" is a readable and incredibly well researched book. No other standard text describes the thegn in this level of detail, making this an invaluable guide.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mark Harrison does an excellent job of introducing the mainstay of the Anglo-Saxon army. It builds on other Osprey titles such as Saxon, Viking, Norman MAA 85, and Arthur & the Anglo-Saxon Wars MAA 154 by expanding on the development of the king's companion gesithas into a hereditary minor noble class & their role in the hearthweru & fyrd.
Embleton's clear illustrations include nice interpretations of the (Norman) supply train from the Bayeux 'Tapestry', the patchwork development of a burgh and, my favourite, the Battersea seax. Also included is a handy outline view of Swanton's spear typology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As good as there is - but dated format 31 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Osprey series books have much to recommend them, and this is very well done, managing to pack a very great deal of information into a small number of pages. However, in the last decades, there have been many archaeological discoveries, and there is a crying need for an up-to-date full colour book on the Anglo-Saxon armies that really does the subject justice.
The quality of many modern books is so high and so comprehensive (see the products of Militaria Verlag for example), that it would be fantastic to see a volume on the Anglo-Saxons that really makes use of what is possible today with digital technology. The Osprey approach of a small number of plates with brief notes at the back supporting a text interspersed with black and white photos now seems very dated. Otherwise, this is as good as there is at present for the modeller and wargamer.
Osprey needs to take a fresh look at its approach to military history publishing. There is another way...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anglo-Saxon Thegn, excellent. 25 Nov 2013
By Trajan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
An excellent Osprey title, with a highly detailed account of the Anglo-Saxon Thegn, as usual Ronald Embleton's illustrations are a delight to behold. Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Old but still valuable 8 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a twenty-year old Osprey title, and it is in need of an update, as quite of few others in the series. This is especially the case for the background pieces on "The origins of the Saxons" and the Saxons' institutions, where the historical consensus has evolved quite a bit since Stenton and Warren Hollister.

The core of the booklet, on arms, equipment and clothing of the Thegn, is however still very valuable. This has a lot to do with the author himself, with Mark Harrison being a curator at the Royal Armouries of the Tower of London.

A huge amount of space (at least compared to more recent Osprey titles) is devoted to the explanations of the plates, as if, for once, the author had ample space and had trouble filing it up. The plates are rather good. I especially liked the one of the huscarl of the Norman earl Ralph the Timid (the last plate) if only because it shows that by the second half of the 11th century, there was not much difference in terms of arms and armour between Anglo-Saxon (or should this be Anglo-Dane?) huscarls, their Scandinavian counterparts and Norman horsemen (I avoided calling them "knights" quite deliberately).

I did have a couple of issues, however. A minor one is that the booklet includes some repetitions. A more serious one, perhaps, is that I had some trouble believing that the first plate, which depicts and entirely unarmoured thegn, and the photos of re-enactors standing in a shield wall and just as unarmoured, were realistic. Being a man of substance, I would have expected a thegn to have worn at least some body protection, perhaps leather armour. In addition, the front line of a shield wall, and perhaps even the first few lines, would have included the better armoured men.
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