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King shall hold kingdom

Tom Shippey: Æthelred the Unready, 30 March 2017

Æthelred: The Unready 
by Levi Roach.
Yale, 369 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 300 19629 0
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... Levi Roach​ ’s book is an attempt to redeem the reputation of Æthelred II, king of England, with one interruption, from 978 to 1016. This is a hard task, as the book’s title concedes: Æthelred has been known as ‘the Unready’ for around a thousand years. Ever since 1066 and All That (originally a parody of Oxford University exam papers) he has also been logged as ‘the first Weak King of England ...

Identity Crisis

Tom Shippey: Norman Adventurers, 16 March 2023

Empires of the Normans: Makers of Europe, Conquerors of Asia 
by Levi Roach.
John Murray, 301 pp., £12.99, March, 978 1 5293 0032 1
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The Normans: Power, Conquest and Culture in 11th-Century Europe 
by Judith Green.
Yale, 351 pp., £11.99, February, 978 0 300 27037 2
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... What then remains of their myth of multiple conquests?Two recent books take different views. As Levi Roach’s subtitle suggests, he follows what one might call the triumphal line – for which there is a great deal of evidence. Take family names, for example. The two contenders for the Scottish throne in the 12th century were the families of de Brus ...

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