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Medieval Britain: A Very Short Introduction [Paperback]

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Item Number 160404  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   177
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.24" Width: 5.6" Height: 0.47"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 21, 2002
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  019285402X  
EAN  9780192854025  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
First published as part of The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, John Gillingham and Ralph A. Griffiths' brief guide to medieval Britain covers the establishment of the Anglo-Norman monarchy in the early Middle Ages, through to England's failure to dominate the British Isles and France in the later Middle Ages. Out of the turbulence came stronger senses of identity in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Yet this was an age, too, of growing definition of Englishness and of a distinctive English cultural tradition.

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More About John Gillingham & Ralph Alan Griffiths

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John Gillingham taught history at the London School of Economics, University of London, from 1965 to 1998. His previous publications include The Angevin Empire (Edward Arnold, 1981); Richard Coeur de Lion (Noesis, Paris, 1996), awarded the Prix Guillaume le Conquerant for 1997; Richard I (Yale University Press, 1999); The English in the Twelfth Century (Boydell Press, 2000); The Angevin Empire (revised edition of 1981 edition) is forthcoming.
Ralph A. Griffiths has been Professor of Medieval History, University of Wales, Swansea, since 1982. His previous publications include The Principality of Wales in the later Middle Ages, Vol. I, South Wales, 1277-1536 (University of Wales Press, 1972); The Reign of King Henry VI (Benn and California University Press, 1981; 2nd edn Sutton 1998); The Making of the Tudor Dynasty, with R. S. Thomas (Sutton and Humanities Press, 1985; revised edn 1993); The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy, with J. Cann

John Gillingham currently resides in London. John Gillingham was born in 1943.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Highly readable and surprisingly detailed  Apr 21, 2008
I am a big fan of the Very Short Introduction series, and "Medieval Britain" by John Gillingham and Ralph A. Griffiths is one of its very best examples. For a book that is just 150 pages long, the authors have managed to fit in a surprising amount of information, covering the entire period from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to Henry VII's accession in 1485. At the same time, however, it is very readable and is broken down into easily digestible chunks.

The book follows a roughly chronological pattern. The first two chapters describe the main political events in the reigns of the Norman kings (1066-1154) and the Plantagenet kings (1154-1272). The authors then move on into a more thematic discussion of matters such as religion, royal administration, law and the economy. From then on political and social topics are interspersed together. By providing the broad overview of events first of all, then fleshing that out with all the aspects which give the reader a real flavour of medieval society, this structure proves very effective. In this way all of the key ideas are tied together nicely. The final chapter discusses the development of Englishness and the concept of England as a distinctive nation - much of which feels very relevant to our modern age.

The text is supplemented by no less than 5 maps and 14 illustrations, as well as a useful chronology of the years 1066-1485, and a royal genealogy, all of which provide some context. The bibliography is extensive, running to some 91 titles which cover virtually every angle discussed in the book. This offers tremendous scope for following up various topics and makes this Very Short Introduction an excellent springboard for studying the medieval period. Finally, the book has a thorough index, always a handy aid to navigation.

Just one word of warning: although entitled "Medieval Britain", this book is very Anglocentric and perhaps "Medieval England" would suit it better, since very little space is given to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. For me, however, this does not detract significantly from what is a very fine book and an excellent introduction to medieval English history (especially at the price it is currently being offered by this site). I would definitely recommend it, both for the student and for the casual interested reader.

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