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The Age Of Arthur: A History of the British Isles [Paperback]

John Morris
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 13.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 Nov 2004
A lifetime's scholarship enabled John Morris to recreate a past hitherto hidden in myth and mystery. He describes the Arthurian Age as 'the starting point of future British history', for it saw the transition from Roman Britain to Great Britain, the establishment of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales from the collapse of the Pax Romana. In exploring political, social, economic, religious and cultural history from the fourth to the seventh century, his theme is one of continuity. That continuity is embodied in Arthur himself: 'in name he was the last Roman Emperor, but he ruled as the first medieval king.'

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The Age Of Arthur: A History of the British Isles + Arthur's Britain: History and Archaeology A.D. 367-634 (Penguin Classic History) + The History of the Kings of Britain (Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (4 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842124773
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842124772
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The classic, bestselling work on the Arthurian era and its fundamental role in the birth of Britain today.

About the Author

John Morris was the first professional historian to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the scattered evidence concerning the infant years of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, their influence on each other and their relationship with Europe. The Age of Arthur is now the classic account of the British Isles from the fourth to the seventh centuries. Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at University College, London, the late Dr John Morris founded the journal Past and Present in 1952 and was its first editor. He initiated a major new edition of the Doomsday Book and, with A.H.M. Jones, the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. His last book, Londinium: London in the Roman Empire, was published in 1982.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
By Herbie Green VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
In my opinion this is the definitive treatment of all the historical evidence for King Arthur, the period and the setting. Any serious scholar of the period between the withdrawal of Roman Troops from Britain and the Saxon period cannot be without this book. I bought the book in 1978, and it fueled my interest in this period of history. 23 years later, and a near library of more recent books at hand, and I still find I refer to Morris more than any other. Every proper name (place or person) of any significance is dealt with. This is a superb read and invaluable reference book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that takes this seriously 9 Jun 2003
Format:Paperback
At last: a book that treats 'The Age of Arthur' in the way one would expect any other historical period to be treated. A book that, rather than dismissing the whole as an embarrassing fabrication of later times, considers the evidence (writen, archaeological, and other) and teases out of the confusion a feasible picture of the real events of the transition from ancient to modern worlds: of war between British and English; of a climactic battle of Baddon; and of - a real man - Arthur. Most excellent.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Dark Ages" weren't as dark as we thought. 4 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
John Morris's book on the "age of Arthur" was our unexpected smash hit of the summer. It's not an easy book because, for a period when historical sources are famously sparce, a lot of attention has to be paid to what we know and how we know it. And talk about your cast of thousands! But the payoff is a marvellous vision of a time when the Roman Empire lived on in Britain as it didn't in Gaul, when England, Wales, Scotland and Britanny were born, and Irish monks and their British pupils spread Christianity and learning throughout northern Europe. The history of a time when all the options were open in a way they never have been since. A good book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mystery Remains 17 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
This book is useful for its analysis of the degree of Saxon control and settlement in England before the late sixth century. The author's detailed discussion makes it look likely that only Kent and parts of East Anglia and the East Midlands plus pockets in Hampshire and East Sussex were under Saxon control until the late sixth century, while some additional areas in the south-east had Saxon farming settlements under Romano-British political control, or groups of federated Saxons acting as military buffers against the small Saxon kingdoms. Centres such as London and Verulamium are seen as remaining important for the Romano-British until the late sixth century. This contrasts with a more conventional picture of a steady and inevitable Saxon spread across the country from the early fifth century.

Other aspects of the book are less satisfactory. There is a tendency to treat possibilities as certainties. The introduction of Arthur as a definite figure at a definite point in time sits uneasily with the lack of firm evidence, and the alternative possibilities of a completely legendary figure, a composite figure formed from several leaders, or even a nickname for one of the known historical figures.

The section dealing with the demise of the Romano-British in the late sixth and seventh centuries is weaker than the analysis of the early Saxon kingdoms. The author tends to fall back on conventional criticisms of the British kingdoms as fragmented and rotten, without looking for reasons why the small and fragmented Saxon kingdoms suddenly overwhelmed their rivals. Thus the collapse of the Romano-British kingdoms remains a mystery. Nevertheless, the book is useful for its discussion of the early Saxon settlements.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know, bearing in mind . . . 29 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
I have to start by saying that I knew John Morris for a number of years before his untimely death (although we were a generation apart - I was a friend of two of his sons) and liked him enormously, but I had no idea that this was his area of expertise. I came to an interest in this period through the usual childhood reading (Roger Lancelyn Green, T H White) and later graduated (?) to rather doubtful non-fiction books by the likes of Geoffrey Ashe. But the book which really fascinated me was Rosemary Sutcliff's "Sword At Sunset" which seemed (and seems) to me to capture some reality about the end of Roman rule in Britain. So it was with huge pleasure that I bought and read this book (actually three books) when it was first published. And I still re-read it today, and have bought copies for my sons. There are, inevitably, some small parts of the book which have been left a little behind by modern archaeology, but for a comprehensive, accessible and learned account of an inaccessible period, I heartily recommend this book. If you have a real interest in the reality behind the Arthur legends you will not be disappointed.
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