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Edward the Elder: 899-924 Paperback – 12 Apr 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (12 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415214971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415214971
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 449,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nick Higham (N. J. Higham) was born in Kent in 1951 and currently lives in Cheshire. He taught history at the University of Manchester from 1977 until taking early retirement in 2011, and now works in archaeology and as an author. His first books were about the archaeology of northern England: The Carvetii (1985, with Barri Jones) and The Northern Counties to AD 1000 (1986). There then followed Rome, Britain and the Anglo-Saxons (1992), The Origins of Cheshire (1993), The English Conquest (1994)and The Death of Anglo-Saxon England (1997). In King Arthur, Myth-Making and History (2002)he questioned the likelihood that King Arthur might have been a real figure, looking in depth at the ninth- and tenth-century sources, in particular. He returned to landscape history with A Frontier Landscape (2004), looking at Lancashire and Cheshire in the Middle Ages. He has edited several academic works: Edward the Elder: 899-924 (jointly with David Hill); Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England (2010) Place-Names, Language and the Anglo-Saxon Landscape (2011), both with Martin Ryan, and Wilfrid: Abbot, Bishop and Saint (2012). His latest work, with Martin Ryan, is The Anglo-Saxon World, due out with Yale U. P. in 2013.

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Review

'An important collection.' - Northern History, September 2002


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Edward the Elder is perhaps the most neglected of English kings. Read the first page
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Hopper TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rather than a traditional biography, which is not possible due to the relative paucity of evidence from the first quarter of the tenth century, this book is instead a collection of papers by different academics presented at a conference in 1999, which was convened for the 1100th anniversary of Edward the Elder's accession to the throne of the emerging Anglo-Saxon kingdom of "Wessex plus", the forerunner of the English kingdom more fully established in the reign of his son Athelstan. It is thus rather dry in places for the amateur reader and contains a lot of repetition of those basic facts that are known. So a bit frustrating, but this is as good as it is ever going to get for this ruler. He is unfortunately sandwiched between his legendary father and his son who was the first king to rule over an area approximating to modern day England, but nevertheless deserves recognition as the bridge between the kingdom of Wessex and the rest of the country, especially its Mercian heartland. 3.5/5
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By RICHARD CLARKE on 30 May 2015
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Very interesting and comprehensive coverage.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By trottzky on 12 Sept. 2011
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If you want to know a little bit about Alfred the Great or Aethelstan, then you may find this book interesting but if you want to know more about Edward the Elder, then I'm afraid you will dissapointed. I can't count the times the same old excuse was trotted out, basically that the sources are quiet about Edward. If thats the case, then why title the book "Edward the Elder?". I've read source books, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, Florence of Worcester etc, and there is quite a lot about him. Especially about his famous fight back and battles with the Vikings, but they are hardly mentioned at all! All, in all, a dissapointment. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone wanting to know about Edward. Obviously a lot of time and effort went into writing and researching the book, but not, seemingly into the right subject or person....
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Sandwiched between Alfred the Great and Æthelstan 18 May 2003
By Mark Howells - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edward the Elder is perhaps the most neglected of the Anglo-Saxon kings. Overshadowed by both his father Alfred and his successor Æthelstan, he did much on his own to expand the domination of Wessex across all of England.
This book is a series of papers presented in 1999 at a conference on Edward the Elder held at the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies. Twenty-two papers by some of the most noted experts in their fields explore the archaeology, charter evidence, textiles, dynastic marriages, coinage, foreign relations, scriptorium production, and more of Edward the Elder's reign.
Of particular interest is the consideration of Edward's activities as king. Was he merely continuing his father Alfred the Great's program of recovering the Danelaw, fortifying the burhs, and incorporating Mercia into a comprehensive "Kingdom of the English"? Or did Edward follow his own policies in light of the opportunities he faced?
An outstanding multi-disciplinary insight into this much overlooked Anglo-Saxon king's rule.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Edward the Elder (and sadly neglected) 18 Nov. 2007
By Mithridates VI of Pontus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
King Edward the Elder (871-924) was the son and greatly overshadowed heir of Alfred the Great. This series of essays attempts to remedy the the absence of published research and prove that he "arguably did as much as any other individual to construct a singly, south-centered, Anglo-Saxon Kingdom." However, the amount of evidence from his reign is almost negligible in comparison to his famous father. And sadly, he is ignored by the Frankish chronicles (who wrote key sources on Alfred's reign) and many other non-English writers as well nor was he praised by his contemporaries.

This essay set contains essays from very respectable historians on this period who explore Archaeological evidence, written sources, coinage, etc for Edward's reign. The essays are arranged in a chronological manner with strategically placed essays that deal with more broad overviews before delving deeper into the facets of his reign. For example the essay 'Edward, king of the Anglo-Saxons' is followed by 'The Coinage of Edward the Elder.' This also has frequent charts, pictures, maps, photographs, and lists that assist the reader and make the read much more interesting. One of the great benefits of having a collection of essays is the ease in ignoring some that deal with an element of history that you might not be interested in and simply move on. Likewise, some essays have extreme detail that may interest someone who actually wants to see how the historians conclusions have been reached. A must buy for anyone truly interested in Anglo-Saxon England. Another great asset are the topics that a single historian writing a book might ignore such as textiles, crafts, and coins. This is a much needed multi-disciplinary resource for a sadly maligned and neglected king who greatly extended the bounds of his empire.

List of essays:
Edward the Elder's Reputation: an introduction - Nick Higham
What is not known about the reign of Eddward the Elder - James Campbell
Edward as Aetheling - Barbara Yorke
Edward, king of the Anglo-Saxons - Simon Keynes
The Coinage of Edward the Elder - Stewart Lyon
The West Saxon Tradition of dynastic marriage: with special reference to Edward the Elder - Sheila Sharp
View from the West: an Irish Perspective on West Saxon dynastic practice
Cloucester and the New Minister of St Oswald
Aelfwynn, second lady of the Mercians - Maggie Bailey
Edward the Elder's Danelaw - Lesley Abrams
The Shiring of Mercia - again - David Hill
Edward the Elder and the re-establishment of Chester - Simon Ward
The Nort-West frontier - David Griffiths
A kingdom too far: York in the early tenth century - Richard Hall
The (non) submission of the northern kings in 920 - Michael R. Davidson
The Northern Hoards: from Cuerdale to Bosall/Flaxton - James Graham-Campbell
Edward the Elder and the churches of Winchester and Wessex - Alexander R. Rumble
Dynastic monasteries and family cults: Edward the Elder's sainted kindred
On pa waepnedhealf: kingship and royal property from Aethelwulf to Edward the Elder - Patrick Wormald
The Junius Psalter gloss: tradition and innovation - Mechthild Gretsch
The Embroideries from the tomb of St Cuthbert - Elizabeth Coatsworth
Endpiece - Nick Higham
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
No biography but excellent anthology 5 Dec. 2010
By Daniel Putman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As yet there is no biography of Edward the Elder who, had he not been the man he was, might have allowed Alfred's incipient development of "England" to fall apart. I suspect that the main reason why no biogaphy exists is the scant sources. This anthology is as close as one will get if looking for a life of Alfred's son. I bought it with the hope that it would be an adequate substitute for a biography. I was not disappointed.

Another reviewer here lists the titles of the various papers. The first five (Higham-Lyon) comprise 78 pages and are close to biographical form. All focus on Edward's life and reign per se through what the written sources and coinage tell us. Several of the later papers put Edward's reign in the context of larger frameworks like the West Saxon tradition of dynastic marriage, the view from Ireland, and the history and role of royal property in the 9th and early 10th centuries. Many of the later papers are also on specific issues that I found interesting. "Edward the Elder's Danelaw" clarifies (at least as much as can be done) a vague but commonly used term for the section of England under Scandinavian influence. "The Shiring of Mercia - Again" is an explanation of the roots of some of the English counties. The papers on the North-West frontier, on York, and on the northern kings give a nice overview of the information available for these areas at the time of Edward. Much of this is based on the latest archaeological and linguistic evidence. I especially enjoyed two of the later papers. "The Northern Hoards" is about the hoards of coins (each hoard given a name) that date from roughly Edward's time. The author talks about the discovery of the hoards and gives an overview of what each contained. I also enjoyed "Dynastic Monasteries and Family Cults" which is about what the author calls "royal saint-making" in Edward's family lineage and how that relates to the establishment of monasteries. The three female saints disussed at the end of the paper are examples.

While this book is not a biography it does a fine job of laying out for the reader as much as is known about Edward and the context in which he lived. His contributions to the establishment of a larger England were substantial and, given the scarcity of sources, this book does him justice.
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