on 21 September 2008
This is a good, solid and scholarly account of England's penultimate Anglo-Saxon king - and the last of the line of Alfred the Great to be king. Frank Barlow is clearly an authority on the king and on the period in general.
Originally published in 1970, this is a reissue of the original, with new material and an updated bibliography (of primary and secondary sources). The author has also taken the opportunity, in the new introduction, to take stock of new research and publications that have appered since then, including the re-editing of key primary sources for the reign, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Orderic Vitalis's Historia Ecclesiastica. The book also comes with black and white plates illustrative of the reign, maps, genealogical tables and appendices with short essays discussing problems associated wih Edward - such as the Vita Aedwardi Regis and the process of Edward's canonisation.
Despite being a saint, Barlow works through the sources, legends, myths and propaganda to bring the reader to the real Edward - a consummate politician and survivor, whilst also providing a good understanding of Anglo-Saxon England on the eve of the Norman Conquest.
An extremely well researched book, the standard work on this Anglo-Saxon king, surely definitive until and unless a major new primary source is unearthed. But it is very readable and not dry for the most part - slightly more esoteric or specialist material is saved for footnotes (at the bottom of pages where they should be) and some appendices. This is a lovely edition, with pictures, maps, genealogical tables and chronologies. Great stuff.