During the tenth century, England began to emerge as a distinct and unified kingdom. The reigns of Alfred, Edward the Elder, Æthelstan and especially Edgar the Peaceable witnessed the emergence of many key institutions: the formation of towns on modern street plans; an efficient administration; a serviceable system of taxation. Mark Atherton here shows how the stories, legends, documents, biographies and chronicles of Anglo-Saxon England reflected this exciting time of change.
The Making of England takes a unique integrated approach to all these sources, showing how they illuminate the historical events of the time. The author examines vernacular documents penned not only by kings and bishops, but also by men and women lower down the social scale. He throws light on the family disputes of the period, the jealousies and affections, the conflicts over authority of church and court. He also explores the Anglo-Latin biographies of vivid personalities like the religious reformers Dunstan and Æthelwold, both dominant figures in the politics of the tenth century. He visits the great 'island monastery' of Glastonbury, where the reformers had their roots, and the schools of Abingdon, Canterbury and Winchester, where their work was continued. This is a literature which deserves much greater attention than it has so far received.
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