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Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King Paperback – 13 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; New Ed edition (13 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750937637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750937634
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ian W Walker is a well-respected historian, whose works have included Lords of Alba.

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Mar 2005
Format: Paperback
Great book about the King Harold who ruled England from January 1066 to October 1066, between Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror.
The fascinating thing is that Harold ALMOST pulled it off. This book gives us a detailed look at Harold's year as king and the problems he faced, namely competition for the throne of England by another King and a Duke.
What most people don't know is that Harold defeated King Harald Hardrada of Norway in a pitched battle near York before riding south to his doom at Hastings.
Even Hasting wasn't an easy battle. The last English king put up a great fight and the battle wasn't decided until very late in the day when Harold finally fell and was killed.
Harold deserves mush more of a mention that most histories of England give him. He was a clever politician and capable, experience warrior who rode and fought his opponents hard. Never the coward, he bravely faced his enemies in battle.
This book is very interesting in filling in the blanks about a man who was king of England only briefly in 1066. It's an interesting read for anyone interesting in the end of Anglo-Saxon England and all that went with it.
Buy and read; it's a cracking book I'd recommend you...
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Martin Latter on 18 Dec 2006
Format: Paperback
One of the problems afflicting English history surrounding 1066 is that some historians have been swayed by sympathiser sources (e.g. that of Robert of Jumieges, the deposed Archbishop of Canterbury) and the victor's propaganda and actions (e.g. The Bayeux Tapestry, 'The Carmen', and the destruction of many Anglo-Saxon documents).

Harold, The Last Saxon King is a refreshing change.

Ian Walker demonstrates healthy scepticism, steers away from legend, and objectively considers sources - or if lacking, as for some Anglo-Saxon perspectives - reasoned evidence of the time. And through careful analysis and thought, he arrives at good, insightful conclusions.

Considering this book is largely an analysis of sources and literature, the surprise is that it is interesting and involving, which is credit to the author's thinking and writing abilities.

Chapter 11 is an interesting and dispassionate account of the Battle of Hastings. Commonly cited failings directed at King Harold are impetuousness and a 'premature' move from London against Duke William's invading forces - perhaps in hope of surprise, as Harold had previously achieved at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Ian Walker shows through evidence that Harold was actually a cautious commander in nearly all of his career and generally preferred negotiation to combat, yet there were good reasons to move early against William. Just because Harold lost the Battle of Hastings doesn't mean he wasn't William's equal as a commander. Ian Walker shows Harold was at least that, and without the murderous streak.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Drifter on 4 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback
Ian W Walker shines a dazzling light on this part of what is often refered to as the dark ages. Not only does he write a thoroughly researched account of Harold's life he also puts it in the context of late Anglo Saxon period. This book is a labour of love and it comes across as such. There's detail enough to greatly inform you without your getting bogged down in the minutia of humdrum daily life. A superb read!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a gritty and dazzling account of the short reign of the last Anglo Saxon King of England. Although his reign was pitifully short and savagely curtailed it is quite amazing that he is remembered, probably more than many of those who came after him and reigned for a much greater length of time. Harold did not even reign long enough to make much of a mark on English history and yet most people know of the Battle of Hastings and the Bayeux tapestry. It is a little strange that a man is so well remembered, for a defeat, rather than a victory.

There are so many ifs and buts in Harold's life. Should the crown of England been his in the first place. Did Edward actually name Harold as his successor while on his deathbed, or did William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy have a prior and more valid claim to England, as he always maintained. If William had decided not to sail when he did. After all he had postponed the crossing so many times previously, would the outcome have been any different. Was it William and his army who defeated Harold at Hastings. Or on the other hand did Harold's brother Tostig play a major role in the demise of his own brother. Harold's rapid march back down from the battlefield of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, a battle in which Tostig was heavily involved and paid for that treachery with his life, certainly did not help Harold or his army, many of whom left on the march south to tend to their crops and their animals. The remainder tired in both body and mind. Only to be called to arms again almost immediately. If Harold's army had held the high ground at Hastings and not charged after what they thought was the routed army of William, would the outcome of the battle turned in their favour?
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