Alfred the Great, Christianity and the Taming of the Vikings, with Philip Parker
How is it that Alfred, who spent months skulking in the marshes here - hardly the act of a good Anglo-Saxon king - nonetheless came out of it as a hero? The chronicler, Asser, says that Guthrum, Alfred's defeated opponent, was baptised in Ebenezer's very own village, Aller, and, it is said, using the font that remains to this day at St Peter's, our local church. What did Alfred and his successors think this baptism and subsequent ones might achieve in a symbolic or practical sense? More broadly, how did the coming of Christianity and the growing power of kings stem the tide of Viking ferocity that dominated and terrorised Europe for three centuries?
The Northmen’s Fury tells the Viking story, from the first pinprick raids of the eighth century to the great armies that left their Scandinavian homelands to conquer larger parts of France, Britain and Ireland. It recounts the epic voyages that took them across the Atlantic to the icy fjords of Greenland and to North America over four centuries before Columbus, and east to the great rivers of Russia and the riches of the Byzantine empire.
The blood of the Vikings runs in millions of veins in Europe and the Americas and the tale of their conquests, explorations and achievements continues to fascinate people around the world.
Philip (click for website) is a former diplomat and publisher. His first book The Empire Stops Here took him on an epic journey around the frontier provinces of the Roman empire. His critically acclaimed new book, The Northmen’s Fury, is a lively and penetrating reassessment of a people who terrorized Europe for three centuries, but brought with them a rich and misunderstood culture.
Philip Parker was born in Liverpool in 1965. He studied history at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and International Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Bologna, Italy before working in the British Diplomatic Service. He has a particular interest in ancient and medieval political and military systems. He is the author of The Northmen’s Fury: A History of the Viking World (2014), The Empire Stops Here: A Journey Around the Frontiers of the Roman World (2009) and the DK Eyewitness Companion Guide to World History (2010).
Dan Jones, The Sunday Times:
“It is quite a feat to write history this good involving so many disparate peoples in so many places over such a long period of time, sifting evidence from such a huge range of historical and archeological sources to form a gripping narrative. But Parker has done it, and plaudits to him. Everyone who visits the British Museum’s Viking exhibition should go clutching a copy of this engaging and splendidly written book. ”
Tom Holland, The Times:
“The major problem with writing an accessible narrative history of the early Middle Ages is the period’s chronic instability. Such kingdoms and fiefdoms as did exist rarely maintained their borders for long, and inveterate feuding tended to ensure a regular turnover of power-hungry warlords — many of whom shared the name Harald. Yet there are treasures aplenty. Particularly fascinating are the visits that Parker makes to some of the less well-known areas of settlement — Frisia, for instance, where the largest hoard of Arabic silver in Europe south of Scandinavia was recently found, or the Isle of Man, where a cross with Odin on one side and Christ on the other commemorates an uneasy multiculturalism.”