English Historical Documents, 500-1042

Front Cover
Dorothy Whitelock
Psychology Press, 1996 - History - 952 pages
"This volume contains most of the principal sources for English history from the time of the settlement of Germanic tribes in Britain until the accession of Edward the Confessor. It is a period of over five and a half centuries, and it saw the conversion of the English to Christianity, the union of England from a number of small kingdoms into a single monarchy, the long struggles against viking attack and the eventual absorption of a large Scandinavian population, and the development of an advanced culture which influenced western and northern Europe. While it could easily be divided into political periods, these would not fit other aspects of its history. In many ways English society remained remarkably stable and it is often possible to illustrate a particular institution or manner of thought from documents of widely different dates. It is not practical to place the documents in strictly chronological order, since some are concerned with several periods, while rigid division by subject matter is impossible, for almost any document may contain evidence on many different aspects of history. Instead, the material is arranged in three divisions: chronicles and other works historical in intent; laws and charters; ecclesiastical documents, with which, since learning and Church history are inextricably interwoven, such literary remains are included as do not more naturally fall under the first head. This division is somewhat arbitrary, for some law-codes are almost entirely concerned with ecclesiastical matters, and the charter was in origin an ecclesiastical instrument, but it has practical convenience. The chief problem was the placing of Bede?s Ecclesiastical History, for this is hardly less important for the political history of the early period than is the Chronicle for later times. It may seem illogical to divorce it from this and from the Northumbrian annals which form a continuation to Bede?s work; but it is equally difficult to separate it from ecclesiastical biographies, and, since it is only incidentally, and not as part of its intent, that it affords information on other than ecclesiastical affairs, it is placed in Part III. With this exception, it would be true to say that Part I is most important for political history, Part II for administration and social life, Part III for the history of the Church, of education and of scholarship; but in fact, no full account can be written on any of these topics without using material from all three parts of the volume."--Introduction.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

Bibliographic information