Æthelstan: The First King of England by Sarah Foot

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By Sarah Foot

The strong and leading edge King ?thelstan reigned in basic terms in short (924-939), but his achievements in the course of these eventful fifteen years replaced the process English heritage. He gained striking army victories (most particularly at Brunanburh), cast remarkable political connections throughout Europe, and succeeded in developing the 1st unified nation of the English. to assert for him the identify of "first English monarch" isn't any exaggeration.In this nuanced portrait of ?thelstan, Sarah Foot deals the 1st complete account of the king ever written. She lines his existence in the course of the a number of spheres within which he lived and labored, starting with the intimate context of his kin, then extending outward to his strange multiethnic royal court docket, the Church and his nation, the wars he carried out, and at last his loss of life and legacy. Foot describes a worldly guy who used to be not just an exceptional army chief but additionally a important king. He ruled brilliantly, constructed artistic how one can undertaking his photo as a ruler, and devised strategic marriage treaties and present exchanges to cement alliances with the best royal and ducal homes of Europe. ?thelstan's legacy, obvious within the new mild of this masterful biography, is inextricably attached to the very forging of britain and early English identification.

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Like his father and grandfather before him, he probably enjoyed hunting, hawking and honing his sword skills by day; the quantity of poetry to survive from this reign suggests that poetry recitation may have formed a part of evening entertainment at his court. Although 42 Æthelstan’s movements, such as they can be determined, are represented in tabular form in Appendix II, ‘When King Æthelstan was where’. See further, below, 77–91. 43 Look at fig. 2, The West Saxon Royal Family in Europe, and see also below, 48–52.

Over the next few years, the English used fortified burhs as centres from which to advance against the settled Danes. a. 903; the battle probably took place at the end of the calendar year 902, but the Chronicle’s year began in September, so events occurring in the autumn are recorded under the next AD date. Æthelweard, 52, also named the battlefield, as did Henry of Huntingdon, who reported its outcome as uncertain: HH, v. 16, 304–5. 8 Cyril Hart, The Danelaw (London and Rio Grande, 1992), 514 argued that historians have underestimated the potential seriousness of this engagement.

Despite Æthelstan’s superior claims as the eldest surviving son, Edward apparently expected that Ælfweard, his second son, should succeed him, at least in Wessex, if not in the whole of his extended realm, but his precise intentions remain uncertain. At the time of Edward’s death, Æthelstan seems to have been in Mercia with his father, while Ælfweard remained in Wessex. The physical location of the two princes as much as any prearranged plan of their father’s probably explains why each separate historic kingdom elected its own ætheling as king.

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