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4.5 out of 5 stars
A Social History of England, 900-1200
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 19 July 2015
This examination of tenth-through-twelfth century England could hardly be any wider in scope and remain as focused in places. From the most exact and matter-of-fact evaluations of natural resources, to a review of Esoteric literary landscapes in Andy Orchard's typical gliding style with everything in between.The topics include social history (slavery, family, kin), urban development (Julia Barrow, her vast knowledge dependable as ever) and urban life (practical considerations), the significant overview of Anglo-Saxon Christianity (wherein the practical considerations are not ignored), and the often sidelined but significant nod to the modes of the transfer of knowledge in various disciplines and the abstract considerations of said transfer are also included.
The styles of the authors are accessible and communicative to a larger audience of interested parties. Furthter reading is supplied, but not necessary for the reader to be able to follow.
What struck me most of all was Elaine Treharne's examination of written landscapes presented as vernacular literate communities. It resounded with a part of her larger opus on the longevity of Old English in use much later (what we may loosely term the period of Middle English development). This brings me to my one disappointment. I have long felt that the strict delineation between "Anglo-Saxon" OE society and Norman society is perhaps a tad too rigid. Cut's reign, and Danelaw for that matter protrude into the period before 1066 and the use of Old English as well as authority of West Saxon literature protrudes far into the other realm, after 1066, and the title of the book had me hoping that this almost arbitrary division is going to be actively broken. Of course this does not disappoint me to a great extent, since it could hardly be expected, that scholars, who need to set boundaries to the issues under investigation, if they are to ever finish a book, could just freely dispense with the 1066 chronological border. I found Elaine Treharne had addressed the issue to the extent it could be addressed in this book while retaining its intelligibility to a wider audience.
All in all I was very happy to have purchased this book and recommend it to anyone interested in any of the topics listed above, it is one of those rare books that can be judged by its table of contents.
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on 21 April 2012
I will admit to not being an historian but someone with a great interest in the subject. I am about three parts of the way through at the moment and am enjoying reading it. Each of the contributors have written in a very clear, engaging and interesting way. The period has many problems for the historian and these are explained to the reader and not covered up. If you wish to take the study further then this and its companion volume are excellent points of entry providing a firm basis for more advanced enquiry.
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