Athelstan (Penguin Monarchs)

Athelstan (Penguin Monarchs)

The Making of England

Summary

The formation of England occurred against the odds: an island divided into rival kingdoms, under savage assault from Viking hordes. But, after King Alfred ensured the survival of Wessex and his son Edward expanded it, his grandson Athelstan inherited the rule of both Mercia and Wessex, conquered Northumbria and was hailed as Rex totius Britanniae: 'King of the whole of Britain'.

Tom Holland recounts this extraordinary story with relish and drama, transporting us back to a time of omens, raven harbingers and blood-red battlefields. As well as giving form to the figure of Athelstan - devout, shrewd, all too aware of the precarious nature of his power, especially in the north - he introduces the great figures of the age, including Alfred and his daughter Aethelflaed, 'Lady of the Mercians', who brought Athelstan up at the Mercian court. Making sense of the family rivalries and fractious conflicts of the Anglo-Saxon rulers, Holland shows us how a royal dynasty rescued their kingdom from near-oblivion and fashioned a nation that endures to this day.

About the author

Tom Holland

Tom Holland is the best-selling author of Rubicon, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, Persian Fire, Millennium, In the Shadow of the Sword, Dynasty and, most recently, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World. His translation of Herodotus' Histories was published by Penguin Classics in 2013, and his biogpraphy of Athelstan in the Penguin Monarchs series in 2016.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more