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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating glimpse at a turbulent half century
Although for much of the book, Emma does not feature in the foreground due to the paucity of records, this provides a fascinating account of national and international politics in the first half of the 11th century; more of a "The Times of Queen Emma" approach, than a biography as such. It is amazing to think that twice in half a century England was conqered and much of...
Published on 9 Mar 2007 by John Hopper

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Depends what you're looking for...
If you want to access a fascinating area of history with not much previous knowledge of the topic, then this is the book for you. It is well written and engaging, and overall provides an excellent narrative of the period c. 980-1066.

HOWEVER, if you are looking for a bit more serious historical research then this can only be a starting point for these...
Published on 25 Oct 2010 by Edward Long


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating glimpse at a turbulent half century, 9 Mar 2007
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
Although for much of the book, Emma does not feature in the foreground due to the paucity of records, this provides a fascinating account of national and international politics in the first half of the 11th century; more of a "The Times of Queen Emma" approach, than a biography as such. It is amazing to think that twice in half a century England was conqered and much of its ruling class replaced by foreigners, first Danes, then Normans and Emma was near the heart of both these centres of power.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Depends what you're looking for..., 25 Oct 2010
This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
If you want to access a fascinating area of history with not much previous knowledge of the topic, then this is the book for you. It is well written and engaging, and overall provides an excellent narrative of the period c. 980-1066.

HOWEVER, if you are looking for a bit more serious historical research then this can only be a starting point for these reasons;

1. The focus on Emma is lost until the final 3 or 4 chapters. Up until then, she plays a mostly supporting role. As such, this reads more like a general history of the period. If that's what you're looking for then there are better alternatives (Rex, Barlow etc. on Edward the Confessor).

2. The title suggests that Emma 'shaped' the events of 1066. This is utter rubbish, and is a massive exaggeration of her role. This tenuous link is really only explained in the final pages of the book, the reason being that she is William the Conqueror's aunt. This is used to incorrectly demonstrate that his claim exceeded any other solely by virtue of this blood relation. Unfortunately this is a massively understated argument in the text, and is therefore surprising to find it as the subtitle. Unquestionably she influenced the environment of pre-Norman England, but she certainly did not pave the way for a Norman invasion as is suggested by O'Brien.

As a historical text, therefore, it is inadequately focused on Emma herself and frequently digresses into rather vague and unnecessary journalistic narrative. It would be much improved by delving more deeply into the contemporary sources of the period.

As a starting point, it's excellent, but not as an in-depth account.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Norman princess, Anglo-Saxon queen, Anglo-Danish queen, powerful woman, 23 July 2010
This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
Where I grew up, there are many runic stones from the 11th century that commemorates husbands, fathers, brothers and friends who died eastwards (Russia, Byzantium) or westwards (England, Scotland). Some of the westward ones probably went with Knut or one of the Olafs. I had heard of Emma as Knut's queen and seen her grave in Winchester. Not until I read this book did I realise she was a Norman that married an Anglo-Saxon King first.

Considering the scarcity of the records O'Brian has made a fantastic job of putting together the story of this politically active woman. And she tells the story in a very readable way. Sometimes she makes educated guesses and sometimes she fleshes out the story without evidence, but this is permissible as it is clear from the notes where she takes these liberties. Sometimes we even get glimpses of Emma the woman, not only Emma the queen.

In addition to Emma's life, O'Brian gives us her historic surroundings and thus the history of England at that time, with glimpses of Norman and Scandinavian events. Several other main players in English-Danish-Norman policies are also interestingly described. It seems it was possible for powerful men to change sides almost any number of times. O'Brian does not comment on the fact that in Scandinavia kings were chosen, not born. Could this explain why so many thought they were the right successors to Knut?

That a woman could be powerful in those days does not surprise me at all, at least not a Norman woman. Of course she could! Who else but the wife was taking care of the Scandinavian home while the husband played Viking in York or Constantinople?

One thing I do not understand after reading the book, though. Why did not Emma become a Saint? She generously supported the church and for many royals that was enough. And if Olaf Haraldson (he who fell London Bridge and was an orthodox monk in Kiev) could become a catholic saint, anyone could!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story about bad times in Europe, 4 Aug 2014
By 
Peter Durward Harris "Pete the music fan" (Leicester England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
England at the start of the previous millennium was already an unstable place, made worse by the incompetent King AEthelred. His first wife had produced ten children by him including six sons, but he eventually re-married, this time to Emma of Normandy, who as the book makes clear, was a close relative of William the Conqueror.

The book tells us a lot about events in England between Emma's arrival in England and her death about fifty years later, plus some stuff about events between her death and the Norman conquest. Although this latter period is covered in more detail elsewhere, it made sense for the author to give the basics. Tracy Borman's book Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror is just one of many other sources for such information.

Emma is sometimes portrayed as a generous woman, but always in the context that her generosity might be reciprocated in some other way. However, none of the characters emerge with any real credit. One almost wonders if William was being kind to England by conquering the country.

As I've said elsewhere, I only started looking into what ancient royals got up to when I learned that I carry a few drops of their blood, albeit my most recent ancestor among them died several hundred years ago. Emma's link is even more tenuous than most of them, as only one of her five known children produced an enduring line of descent, but if my information is correct, she is my ancestor. I have to say that on the basis of this book, I can't be proud of that fact, nor of the fact that some of the other people mentioned in the book are also allegedly my ancestors. They seem to have been a fairly disreputable bunch, including King Cnut, who is not the ancestor of anybody alive today as his own children, including those he had with Emma, all died childless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, well researched., 26 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
I first read this book on a cruise ship and found it so interesting that I have given copies to several family members. The book is very academic, complete with references, but is quite readable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is only a shame O'Brien hasn't written more, 26 July 2011
This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
This is a great book to explain the complicated events of this period. Emma is explored through her deeds and actions as a woman of confidence, with choices and determination, instead of the usual passive female role. Although an extremely sympathetic portrayal of Emma, O'Brien doesn't offer a one sided view and doesn't seek to justify her actions other than by their expediency in context. There are three family trees and a short description of the key characters at the start of the book which act as a handy reference guide as events unfold. The prose rattles along with an enjoyable turn of phrase, and it is only a shame O'Brien hasn't written more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Queen Emma and the Vikings., 2 Sep 2010
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A. M. Falcon (Cumbria, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
A good and intresting read. Like the way each chapter begins with the setting of the scene. Informative and thorough.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unknown queen, 9 May 2014
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hazel.roberts4 "I am a retired radiographer w... (NUNEATON, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
This is a queen I was unaware of let alone her effect on the various powerful families. Genealogy of the different families is clearly defined. Various persona listed before opening chapter and where they appear in the scheme of things
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good detailed book, 1 April 2014
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Ian Geary "oldhenry" (leicester England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
Good book on Emma a great queen of Saxon England. Good to read and enough meat to give a talk on the subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 5 Nov 2013
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H. Lowe (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 (Paperback)
Another strong, unsung heroine from history. I didn't know anything about Emma prior to reading this. Really enjoyed learning about her.
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Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066
Queen Emma and the Vikings: The Woman Who Shaped the Events of 1066 by Harriet O'Brien (Paperback - 19 Jun 2006)
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