One of my long-term projects around here has been a “casebook” about the Battle of Brunanburh, which is bringing together scholars from around the globe. It’s in a somewhat advanced state at this point, and I’ve been working on my introductory chapter for the book as a result.
I’ve written similar chapters for my own work before, but having the added difficulty and excitement of introducing so many voices is quite enjoyable. Equally as fascinating, though, has been the fact that I’ve chosen to have a significant part of my intro focus on the historical background to the battle. Not a big deal, you might think, especially since most medievalists wouldn’t be worth a lick if they didn’t already have a rough idea of what was happening in England between Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror.
But that’s just it, you see: Most of us do know a bit about the history of England around 937. Yet the Battle of Brunanburh was an international battle, bringing together an array of England’s enemies against the fledgling kingdom. So I’m presenting the historical background of much more than England.
And I’m having a blast doing it.