Damgudthyng*

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Hindley

Contains a lot of interesting material: for example I knew nothing about the wave of potential saints who tried to convert Germany (and I fear that even now Willibrord, Winnebald and Willibald are weltering in hideous confusion in my cerebral cortex).  Also on occasions a good story and a nice turn of phrase.  Hindley could have done with a proof-reader more alert to stray commas and crossed homophones, but that’s carping, and on the plus side the book covered all the period I wanted, and has photos, maps, genealogical tables, and a really useful timeline.

Lawson

This one revealed only too plainly that all regimes are founded on a legitimised protection racket, hence the resentment of kings/governments when competitors get in on the act. I’d not heard about tenure by horn before, nor of a prominent ealdorman called Eadric Streona – the Acquisitor – who was predictably unpopular, or a lot of other details.

No maps or photos, but contains a list of extant charters from Cnut’s period, and such things as the witness lists on the charters may indicate the relative precedence of the signatories and perhaps even the places where they were sitting in that court on that day a thousand years ago.  There’s also a discussion of how many coins of each issue of money were struck, and where the moneyers were based.  Some patient numismatists have weighed them all, trying to deduce otherwise invisible economic trends.

Peering into the time beyond the time beyond, Lawson has few sources to go upon. This must be a difficult history to write, collecting up the sherds of events and trying to join up the few remaining red bits to infer a picture.  Is it a flower?  Postman Pat’s van?  Fire and (of course) the sword?  Yes, well – one could take a guess.

* Historically-minded readers:  relive with me the pure happiness of the far-off day when I discovered that infangthief and outfangthief were real judicial entitlements.

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