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'Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England' by Annie Whitehead

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Forget the Tudors, the Stuarts and the Plantagenets. The peripeteias of the Anglo-Saxon heads of state presented me with the drama I had not encountered in a long time. Abbesses, Princesses, Lovers, Queens, Mothers, Daughters - sometimes it would be just one woman - all of these roles were inhabited by the amazing ladies who lived in our Sceptred Isle many many years ago. The author's job in this case resembles that of a detective, collecting evidence and data from the scarce chronicles of the time, putting together the narrative of the epoch long gone. Gone, but not forgotten. Thanks to this amazing volume, we can glimpse at the awe-inspiring tales of women (and yes, men) of England before it was England as such.

The elements that remind us that this was a different country and a different time, is of course, the names of the people in it. (There was one name which I fully recognised: Anna, but that was of a King #gofigure.) The author does her best to untangle the dynastic family trees filled with mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and cousins whose names are strange to us. For me, the most surprising bit was how strangely modern some of these women lived: women taking control of their body, women educating high-ranking officials, women taking high office, women being in charge - the list goes on and on. Basically, women sticking to their guns, or swords in this case... All in all, it's a multi-generational, multi-geographical, high octane saga of the dynasties reigning in our Isle before The Norman Conquest #LandBefore1066. Read the author Annie Whitehead talking about the book, its heroines and the locations relevant to their story:

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