The First Kingdom: Britain in the age of Arthur

February 25, 2021
The First Kingdom: Britain in the age of Arthur

The bestselling author of The King in the North turns hisattention to the obscure era of British history known as 'the ageof Arthur'.Somewhere in the dim void between the departure from Britain ofthe Roman legions at the start of the fifth century and the days ofthe venerable Bede, the kingdoms of Early Medieval Britain wereformed. But by whom? And out of what?Max Adams scrutinizes the narrative handed down to us by laterhistorians and chronicles, stripping away the most lurid nonsenseabout Arthur and synthesizing the research of the last forty yearsto tease out strands of reality from myth. His central themeevolves from an apparently simple question: how, after the end ofthe Roman state, were people taxed? Rejecting ethnic andnationalist explanations for the emergence of the Early Medievalkingdoms, Adams shows how careful use of a wide range ofperspectives from anthropology to geography can deliver a pictureof the emergence of distinct polities in the sixth century thatsurvive long enough to be embedded in the medieval landscape,recorded in the lines of river, road and watershed and in placenames.