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It is the title which gives away a great deal about this very fine book, and should alert us to Tom Lambert’s ambition for this project, which has grown out of a University of Durham PhD thesis. ‘Law’ positions it as a work of legal history, but it is the component of ‘order’ which offers the second and bolder half of Lambert’s argument.
The 13 essays in this book are the outcome of a conference (with the addition of a few other papers) held at Winchester University in September 2011.
In The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century, George Molyneaux investigates how territories under the dominion of the Cerdicing kings of Wessex developed into a clearly defined and conquerable kingdom. The book’s fundamental argument is that the period 871 through 1066 cannot be treated as a cohesive block of history.
Anglo-Saxon historians are in an enviable position when it comes to electronic resources.
Æthelstan might not, to the uninitiated, seem a very likely candidate for a volume in the prestigious Yale English Monarchs series. He lacks the name-recognition associated with a Conquerer or a Confessor, and is not the subject of any compelling anecdotes about beaches or cakes which have wormed their way into the popular consciousness.
‘When medieval men and women thought and wrote about power in the early Middle Ages – what it was, what it should be, what it had been – peace was never far from their thoughts’ (p. 271). Thus writes Paul Kershaw in the last paragraph of this important work on the ideas behind rulership but it explains perfectly the previous 270-odd pages.
This is an accessible and engaging book about the ranks, obligations, and image of the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy, written by one of the leading historians of the period. Ann Williams is the author of The English and the Norman Conquest, Kingship and Government in Pre-Conquest England c.