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Sunday, July 08, 2012

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Matt

Hi there, I'm gradually listening to all of these and have only just got as far as the Norman Invasion but I have a question so thought I'd put it in the most recent post!

Well I say question but it's more of a gradual idea and I have no real way to pose it. I have lots of questions, so many questions.

Is it fair to say that Anglo Saxon England was actually pretty unstable and chaotic for a large portion of it? I definitely share your feelings about it and am a bit sad "we" lost, just like I feel sad that the original Britons lost.

We seem to have this idea I think that England was doing fine and dandy until 1066 when the Normans rolled in and changed everything, but listening to your podcasts it seems much more like England was a constant playing field in turmoil for hundreds of years. Ok you have rulers like Aethelstan who unite England and make it powerful but then you have Edward the Confessor who doesn't seem to have much of a grip, for many reasons. People think a lot about 1066 but as we saw with Cnut years before, "we" actually lost the whole country to him before William was born.

This leads me on to another question really. Why did Harthacnut (?) decree his succession would go back to the line of Wessex? It seems like a complete U-turn to me. Was there a lot of outside pressure on him?

Oh and another question. How come the Anglo Saxons seem to have been more or less militarily stagnant for 500 years? This is probably an exaggeration but they seem to have made lots of sweeping civil and law changes that made them the envy of many a hungry invader, but still stuck to the shield wall and throwing spears. Why did Edward the Confessor build Norman-style cathedrals but not Norman-style castles? Why did the Anglo-Saxons not look at the constant invasions and violations against them and not progress militarily? I'm probably over simplifying it but it seems a bit strange to me. It seems like their advantage over the Welsh and Picts was largely numbers, where as the Vikings/Normans advantage over the Anglo-Saxons was primarily tactics and technology?

I guess in summary I would like to know if possible why we didn't really adapt for so long, and also if I'm right in thinking that despite several very powerful and intelligent leaders, the anglo-saxon period was one where in a generation you could go from ruling the entire country to losing it all and back again?

alexis

how about a family tree for the plantagents. also where exactly are you podcasting fromn

Kirk

I recently discovered your podcast, and am catching up quickly. The end of Mike Duncan's History of Rome podcast left a large void in my commute, which your podcast more than adequately fills. Thanks for such an entertaining and informative podcast. Keep up the good work.

The History of England

Thanks, all, and thanks for the questions and comments, Matt.

Funnily enough, for some reason I seem to identify very strongly with the Anglo Saxons, and not the Britons. Odd. Anyway, old loyalties die hard...like over a thousand years....!

On Harthacnut, I may have forgotten; but I think it was rather the Witan that made the decision, I don't think Harthacnut expected the decision to come along so quickly...but I could be wrong, and happy to be corrected.

I think you are right about the military thing; basically for some reason the AS's hadn't moved on I don't know the reason; but my guess is that they had been part of the Nordic world for so long, and less of the continental world - though of course Edward had lived there, we'd married into the family of the Holy Roman Empire, so not sure really why. But certainly one of the benefits of the Normans in the long run was becoming much more stitched into the mainstream. But I think there's a good thesis to be written there !
Basically by the 11th Century I think England had become that very dangerous combination - rich and militarily weak. Cnut basically ran rings round them, and Edward was luck the dynasty just ran our of members. In fact, the Norman victory was a surprisingly close run thing - a rather remarkable concatenation of circumstances.
Cheers

David

Kelly Chandler

I too am just now catching up and I have an historical/alcholic question. Any hope of a podcast devoted to the development of English beer? Did it start out lager and evolve into tasty yummy ale? Also, thanks so much for making my commute seem shorter!

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