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By Peter Marren

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Britain used to be a spot of clash at midnight a long time, among the departure of the Romans and the Norman Conquest. Clashes of allegiance, festival for territory and assets, and extreme rivalries one of the warlords and kings gave upward thrust to widespread outbreaks of battling. This was once the time of mythical army leaders, like Arthur, Alfred and Canute, and of actually hundreds and hundreds of battles. during this interesting e-book, Peter Marren investigates this burdened period of war, appears for the truth at the back of the myths, and makes use of the suggestions of recent scholarship to teach how battles have been fought in that brutal age, the place they have been fought, and why.

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At this date the 'Welsh' were not confined to Wales! The British lost twelve 'nobles' in this battle, but Nennius claims that 'the barbarians fled', leaving Vortimer, son of Vortigern, the victor. If so, Wippedesfleot could be interpreted as a temporary reversal of the Kentish Saxons' further campaign of conquest. However, in a fourth battle in 473, which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not name, and which is missing from Nennius's manuscript, 'Hengest' and Aesc again fought against the 'Welsh'.

Ceawlin's death closes the cycle of battles and campaigns of the Saxon Conquest of southern England. Ceol's successor Ceolwulf, son of Cutha, seems to have led his war-band far and wide, ever fighting 'against the Angles, or against the Welsh, or against the Picts, or against the Scots'. But the Chronicle records not a single one of his battles. Quite abruptly, the record switches to a different kind of conquest. In 601 St Augustine came to England as head of a papal mission to convert the English to Christianity.

The country was fertile and well-watered with a prosperous agriculture, numerous wood-based industries, including iron and tin-smelting, glassworks and potteries. The population was around three to four million. What they may not have had was the cultural and political unity to maintain law and order once the Empire came under severe pressure. Like everywhere else in the Empire, this was a fragile civilization depending on central authority from Rome. To someone living in the middle of the fifth century and watching it all collapse about them it must have seemed like the end of the world.

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