The Battle of Maldon War and Peace in Tenth-Century England
It describes a bloody skirmish along the banks of the tidal river Blackwater in the year 991, when the renowned Anglo-Saxon shield wall failed and was overwhelmed by a sizeable force of Danish marauders. The poem is one of the emblematic documents of the early Middle Ages in England; and its vibrant detail suggests that it was written soon after the battle. But as Mark Atherton reveals, in his authoritative treatment of this iconic text and its history, it is more. Maldon decisively changed attitudes at the English court which led to fresh policies that halted the advance of the Viking invader. This turning of the tide permitted the cultural renaissance centred on Winchester, which had accompanied the unification of England under King Edgar (r. 959 - 975), to continue - to the immeasurable profit of English identity and sense of self. Using his own vivid translations, the author shows how Maldon and its aftermath transformed the destiny of a nation.