Home History ‘Never Greater Slaughter’ Book Review: Brunanburh and the Birth of England

‘Never Greater Slaughter’ Book Review: Brunanburh and the Birth of England

by Enochadmin

Constructing on his groundbreaking 2011 e book The Battle of Brunanburh: A Case Examine, and supported by the native Wirral Archaeology group, American historian Michael Livingston makes his case for the situation at Bromborough, north of Chester, England, of this extremely vital, if close to legendary, 937 battle amid the Viking invasions. In his foreword Bernard Cornwell, bestselling writer of the celebrated Final Kingdom novels, which culminate at Brunanburh, deems the battle as foundational to England as Yorktown was to America. He additionally finds it ironic an American has emerged because the foremost interpreter of “England’s battle”—or in Livingston’s phrases, “England’s bloody day of coming of age.”

Livingston argues in opposition to utilizing the time period “Darkish Ages,” saying it displays extra on our ignorance than on those that lived in that period. Whereas conceding the tradition shock, particularly to church buildings, that attended the arrival of Viking raiders and invaders, he challenges different long-held beliefs about Viking tradition. For instance, he questions whether or not a way of formality execution recorded in interval poetry because the “blood eagle” was genuine or merely a literary invention. He additionally disputes the story that Englishmen threw defeated Viking chief Ragnar Lodbrok right into a snake pit, an act that reportedly precipitated the 865 arrival of the vengeful “Nice Heathen Military.” This Scandinavian horde overran all however the “final kingdom” of Wessex, whose priestly however combative monarch, Alfred the Nice, set the stage for his warrior grandson Athelstan’s heroic stand at Brunanburh.

Livingston employed “battle evaluation”—together with archaeology, multisource verification and information of interval warfare, in addition to following recognized roads and strolling potential battle websites—to find out if there was a significant battle (involving some 10,000 males on both aspect) at Bromborough. The Battle of Brunanburh pitted an unlikely alliance of Vikings from Eire, Scots and Britons of Strathclyde in opposition to Athelstan, whose success was described within the close to up to date Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as an unprecedented slaughter. The victory successfully left him first king of all England.

Livingston’s analysis is supported by endnotes, an index, maps and an appendix of other battle websites, in addition to 34 colour pictures of related websites, artifacts and historic paperwork. His e book will probably change into the usual on the subject.

This evaluation appeared within the Autumn 2022 problem of Navy Historical past journal.

By no means Higher Slaughter

Brunanburh and the Start of England
By Michael Livingston

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