What I'm Reading
He was the greatest Anglo-Saxon king, a diplomat, an astute politician, a warrior, a businessman - and yet his legacy is a dyke.
Offa and the Mercian Wars: the Rise and Fall of the First Great English Kingdom.
King Offa of Mercia claimed to be the king of all kingdoms, in other words, king of England. He ruled from 757 to 796 and was the great-great-grandson of Eowa, Penda's brother. Offa had coins minted, met with the pope and Charlemagne. A real international jet-setter. Under his authority, forts and bridges were built and on or near the site of a royal fort in Tamworth, where Offa built a luxurious palace.
This nonfiction book is well written and uses all the available sources to inform us about the great military leader he was, and covers all the Mercian wars in as much detail as possible. It also covers, as claimed in the tagline, the rise and fall of one of the major Anglo-Saxon territories in the seven kingdoms.
The problem is that there are not many sources around at all about this period of history - the Dark Ages are named aptly in this context. What Peers does, however, is use his research to fill in other aspects of the Migration period, (the official name for the Dark Ages) some of it after Offa's death, to give a detailed description of Anglo-Saxon England and the other major kings.
An informative and interesting book which I thoroughly recommend. I have the hardback copy in my collection.
And if you get the chance to visit Offa's Dyke - the border he defined between England and Wales - do so, because it is set in beautiful countryside.
Published by Pen & Sword Military on 24 October 2012.