Books Features

New Medieval Books: The Making of England

The Making of England: From Rome to Reformation

By Toby Purser

Amberley Publishing
ISBN: 978 1 3981 0506 5

A general overview of English history from the mid-4th to the mid-16th centuries, with a very good balance of coverage between the Early and Later Middle Ages. The work also looks into the contemporary debates about this history.


This work is primarily concerned with reassessing the creation and identity of the political entity of England, but ordinary men and women are there throughout, sometimes coming into view: Imma the thegn captured and sold into slavery; Herlmstan the cattle-thief identified by a bramble-scratch on his cheek; Aethelric of Marsh Gibbon who told the Domesday Book commissioners that he held four hides freely in 1066 but now held them ‘at farm’ and ‘in heaviness and misery’; and the unfortunate Desiderata who playfully wrestled a male friend and accidentally stabbed herself through the heart with a poisoned arrow he had under his belt. It draws upon key written works by men and about men, though the other 50% of the population, like Desiderata, are sometimes permitted fleeting glimpses – from Frankish Bertha who arguably brought Christianity to Kent, Abbess Hild at Whitby and fictional queen Wealhtheow in Beowulf, to King Alfred’s daughter Aethelflaed of Merica, and the redoubtable Emma of Normandy. 


Who is this book for?

While this is an introduction to England in the Middle Ages, it may be more suited to people who already have some background in this area. Unusually for books like this, it is not mostly focused on the last few centuries of the medieval period, but rather is very balanced throughout.

The author

Toby Purser is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Northampton. He has written several other books about medieval history and is an educator. Click here to view his university webpage or follow Toby on Twitter @PurserToby


You can learn more about this book from the publisher’s website

You can also buy this book on | |