Battle of Brunanburh: A Casebook

The Battle of Brunanburh

The Battle of Brunanburh: A Casebook. Ed. Michael Livingston. Exeter: Exeter University Press, 2011.

From the Introduction:

Sometime late in the year 937, somewhere in Britain, rival armies of uncertain size from across the wide expanses of northern Europe — from London to Dublin, from Scotland to Scandinavia — met in a place called Brunanburh.

For centuries afterward, records of the Battle of Brunanburh, as it came to be known, spread far and wide, in poem and song, in chronicles and prayers, in sagas and charters, in Anglo-Saxon, Welsh, Latin, Old Norse, Middle English, and Anglo-Norman, to say nothing of post-medieval appearances in languages around the globe. . . . The men who fought and died on that field forged a political map of the future that remains with us today, arguably making the Battle at Brunanburh one of the most significant battles in the long history not just of England, but of the whole of the British Isles . . . in one day, on one field, the fate of a nation was determined.

The Battle of Brunanburh is one of the least understood battles in the history of the British Isles. For centuries, scholars have grappled with vital questions concerning the event. This book — compiled by an international team of experts — gathers, annotates and translates into English all the significant historical and literary primary sources. In addition, ten essays provide cultural contexts while laying to rest many of the most controversial questions about the conflict — including the key matter of where it took place. They also reveal the lasting significance of the battle both in terms of history and in terms of its impact across more than a thousand years of literature.



Journal of Military History:

A massive and admirable volume on the Battle of Brunanburh. It is designed as a casebook – a teaching tool and a scholarly examination in one. It is as definitive as it is possible to be about the battle and succeeds admirable as a case study of how to examine an obscure medieval battle.


Now, thanks to this volume, any historian, literature specialist, or curious reader can find all the relevant sources in modern English on a formerly obscure battle, making this a useful and worthy contribution.

Year’s Work in English Studies:

A significant new publication … [that] will no doubt prove a valuable contribution to our understanding of this battle and its representation in contemporary and later literature.

Fortean Times:

This will be the definitive text.



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