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Athelstan: The First King of England Yale English Monarchs (The Yale English Monarchs Series) Paperback – 17 Aug 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Reprint edition (17 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300187718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300187717
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'Sarah Foot's wide-ranging, detailed and sympathetic account offers many thought-provoking insights into a crucial and formative period in British history. In its pages AEthelstan emerges from the shadows as one of the great English rulers. It will be essential reading for all future explorers in the field.' (Michael Wood, author of In Search of the Dark Ages) 'In the pages of this remarkable biography - a work suffused with a rare empathy - Aethelstan emerges as a character of flesh and blood.' (Hywel Williams, Times Literary Supplement) 'A compelling new biography... Foot manages to construct a remarkably clear vision of this king who deserves to be more widely known.' (David Musgrove, BBC History Magazine (Books of the Year) 'A triumph of historiography that celebrates a life rich in spiritual, intellectual and martial endeavour. Revisionary, thoughtful, beautifully written and exhaustively researched, this biography of Aethelstan is set to become a classic.' (Helen Fulton, Times Higher Education)"

About the Author

Sarah Foot is Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford, and a foremost scholar of tenth-century history.


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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
At last a comprehensive analysis of Athelstan and the early 10th Century.
There is nothing else like this book for its comprehensive coverage, coins, charters, continental sources, chronicles, letters etc.
Seems like a lifetime's work, this must be Sarah Foot's magnum opus - or can there be more to come about Anglo-Saxon Britain?
I look forward to that.
many thanks
PS Wouldn't it be great if Michael Wood ever got round to publishing his work on Athelstan. I've just listened to 90 mins of his inspiring lecture at Newcastle University available at
[...]
PPS also worth listening to the author, Sarah Foot and others talking with Melvyn Bragg BBC Radio 4 iplayer
[...]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, some background to my purchase of this book. I knew virtually nothing of this period in English history, and had no real interest, until I watched Michael Wood's superb TV series "Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons". This was riveting stuff; most people know of Alfred (the cake burner), but his son Edward the Elder, daughter Aethelflaed (Lady of the Mercians), and grandson Aethelstan? No chance. I needed to know more, so having scanned what was available I chose this.

This book did the job admirably. It's quite densely printed, quite lengthy and needed persistence to get through in a reasonable time. Given the relative paucity of hard facts that have survived from the 10th century, maybe, just maybe, the book is padded out a little, but hey, what do I know?

A fascinating and scholarly work, and a super introduction to a little-known king who was hugely important in the birth of modern England.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Superb scholarship and a fluid writing style, make this the most authoritative account of the life and achievements of this highly significant Anglo-Saxon king in print today. Athelstan had no contemporary biographer (as Alfred the Great did) and, consequently is far less famous amongst the general public. This account, written by a foremost Anglo-Saxon expert, provides an impressive and meticulously researched academic analysis of this important ruler. This will, no doubt, be the account of Athelstan that will last a generation.
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For those of us interested in the Saxon Age in England King Athelstan is an important monarch to study. The ability to bring the king alive cannot have been easy when most of the writings of the time tell little about the person and more about the position. However the book provided fascinating glimpses of the man who as a boy was sent away to live with his aunt: The Lady of the Mercia. The warrior who protected and enlarged his kingdom and did not marry: perhaps in order to avoid chaos after his death? Perhaps he would have rather been a monk?
As I am trying to write fiction about Athelstan's era I can only thank Sarah Foot for adding to my knowledge and perceptions of a great but largely forgotten king.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to give this book 5 stars because of the amount of research that has gone into it. But if you are looking for a general history on Aethelstan this book may not be for you. This book anlayzes all the evidence thoroughly which can make it slow going. This book not only states theories and facts about Aethelstan but explains, in detail, the evidence used to come to those conclusions. To know everything there probably is to know about Aethelstan I doubt this book can be bettered. For such an important monarch in English history a crucial piece of work.
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If one ignores the claims of Bretwaldas (Ethelbert of Kent, Edwin of Northumbria, Offa of Mercia and Egbert of Wessex) who should be styled `King of England'. In pre-Conquest England there are, perhaps, four claimants. However, Alfred (871-99) may have `saved England' but he certainly had no claim over much more than the southern shires. His son, Edward the Elder (899-924) extended his control northwards but, whatever panegyrists might have produced, never had control over Northumbria which remained firmly in the grip of the Danes. In her first-rate biography of 'thelstan (924-39) Sarah Foote puts forward the claim of her subject with strong support.

'thelstan was the eldest child of Edward the Elder's first marriage but appears to have been pushed down the pecking order by the progeny of that king's two subsequent marriages. Indeed, Sarah Foote asserts that 'thelstan spent his early years with his aunt, 'thlflaeda, and her husband who were in charge of those parts of Mercia controlled Edward the Elder. Luck removed 'thelstan's most serious rival by the death of his eldest half-brother, 'lfweard, within weeks of their father. 'thelstan managed to shrug off whatever coups (threatened or actual) were made against him over the next fifteen years. He was to be succeeded by a half-brother, Edmund, the eldest of the third marriage.

After an overview of the reign, Sarah Foote looks more closely at his family. Clearly actual sources are in short supply and much of her effort is concerned with examining the products of post-Conquest annalists (especially William of Malmesbury) in the light of evidence from sources, such as charters and archaeology, more in vogue with post-Victorian historians.
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