The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest, 1035-1135: Chapter II – Castles, Abbeys, Cathedrals & Churches.

Knights, Barons & Castles: The knights who served William ‘the Conqueror’ were armed in many respects as their English opponents, wearing mail hauberks and conical helmets, and carrying kite-shaped shields, lances, swords and maces. If battlefield tactics were dominated by the mounted knight, the strategies of war were increasingly subject to the powerful influence ofContinue reading “The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest, 1035-1135: Chapter II – Castles, Abbeys, Cathedrals & Churches.”

Unifying the Kingdoms of Britain: The Kings of Wessex & The Birth of England, 871-1031.

Chaos in Christendom: From the late ninth century until the mid-eleventh century in Europe, internal and external problems steadily weakened western Christendom. The Carolingian Empire had fragmented; no major military power existed in the West. The continued attacks of Muslims from the south, a new wave of attackers from central Asia, the Magyars (Hungarians) andContinue reading “Unifying the Kingdoms of Britain: The Kings of Wessex & The Birth of England, 871-1031.”

The Coming of the Northmen: from Coastal Raids to Inland Battles in Britain & Ireland, 789-871.

Pirates or Merchant Adventurers? Out of the North, they came, more warriors from the fringes of the Baltic. Norsemen, Vikings, Danes, many names, but one overriding characteristic – they came first to raid and plunder in tall-prowed sailing ships that had carried these sea-rovers to the Mediterranean and the coasts of a new world acrossContinue reading “The Coming of the Northmen: from Coastal Raids to Inland Battles in Britain & Ireland, 789-871.”

The False Dawn: Saxons, Celts and Britons, 616-839 – From Edwin of Northumbria to Egbert of Wessex.

The (no-longer-so-dark) Dark Ages: Since the discovery of the Sutton Hoo burial in Suffolk in 1939, archaeology has continued to shed light on the ‘Dark Ages’, where documentary evidence is lacking. The distribution of pagan fifth-century Anglo-Saxon burials indicates the probable areas of earliest English settlement in Britain. The English ‘advance’ continued throughout the periodContinue reading “The False Dawn: Saxons, Celts and Britons, 616-839 – From Edwin of Northumbria to Egbert of Wessex.”

Battles of the Britons: Seawolves, Settlements & Saints, circa 415-615.

The Disintegration of Roman Britain: With the removal of Rome’s military support by around 411 the centralised adminisration of occupied Britain disintegrated, although the form and values of Roman life were not instantly overthrown. It was still hoped that Britain would become a Roman province again and an appeal for military aid was made toContinue reading “Battles of the Britons: Seawolves, Settlements & Saints, circa 415-615.”

Fact & Film: ‘Silly Suffolk’ – The Dialect of ‘The Dig’ at Sutton Hoo.

Above: the Sutton Hoo helmet discovered by Brown’s excavations History lessons: Soon after my son moved to Framlingham in Suffolk to take up his first teaching post at the local Thomas Mills’ High School, in 2014, I fulfilled one of my ‘bucket list’ ambitions, which was to visit Sutton Hoo, the archaeological site nearby which had beenContinue reading “Fact & Film: ‘Silly Suffolk’ – The Dialect of ‘The Dig’ at Sutton Hoo.”

The Putney Debates, the Second Civil War & the Newport Treaty: Oct 1647 – Oct 1648; Levellers, Engagers & Insurgents.

An ‘Outbreak of Democracy’?: In his 1961 work on The Levellers and the English Revolution, H N Brailsford wrote that: … there has been nothing like this spontaneous outbreak of democracy in any English or continental army before this year of 1647, nor was there anything like it thereafter till the Workers’ and Soldiers’ CouncilsContinue reading “The Putney Debates, the Second Civil War & the Newport Treaty: Oct 1647 – Oct 1648; Levellers, Engagers & Insurgents.”

Between Civil Wars: The Search for a Settlement, 1646-47 – Losing the Peace.

The Continuing Conflict across the British Isles: The king’s surrender at Newark in the early summer of 1646, while effectively ending the first civil war, did little to clarify matters in Wales or Ireland. Harlech did not surrender until March 1647 and the royalist governor of Dublin surrendered the city to parliament in July. TheContinue reading “Between Civil Wars: The Search for a Settlement, 1646-47 – Losing the Peace.”

Four Hundred Years Ago: The Birth of a ‘New England’ – Trans-Atlantic Separatists & the Language of Dissent.

‘The Ship they called the Mayflower‘: The 16th September 2020 marks the four hundredth anniversary of the departure of the ship, Mayflower, from Plymouth Sound in Devon, England. The ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ were drawn from the Puritan separatists who had set up illegal churches in Lincolnshire and other parts of East Anglia. Threatened with fines and/orContinue reading “Four Hundred Years Ago: The Birth of a ‘New England’ – Trans-Atlantic Separatists & the Language of Dissent.”