By Derek Wilson
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Extra resources for A brief history of the circumnavigators
The three surviving versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, maintained in at least three different locations, become extremely patchy, in some years recording few events, in others none at all. The so-called ‘Life of Edward’ (the Vita Edwardi), composed in the 1060s, either shortly before or shortly after the Norman Conquest, was the work of a Flemish monk hoping to please Queen Edith, writing in an obscure and poetic Latin which would be difficult to construe, even if the manuscript itself had survived intact, which it has not.
England may have been the Gold Coast of early medieval Europe, dependent upon the export of those same two commodities, gold and slaves, upon which a much later British Empire was to be founded. Bristol was almost certainly a centre for the trade in slaves to and from Ireland and Wales, and perhaps for silver from Wales or the Mendips, long before it became involved in the trade in gold and slaves from Africa or sugar from the Caribbean. St Patrick, one of the most mythologized yet significant figures in Irish history, may have begun his life as a slave, captured in what is today south-west England and traded to the Irish c.
Virtually everything written about Edward’s reign by foreign chroniclers was set down after the great cataclysm of 1066, on the whole to justify the Norman Conquest of England. It has to be read as propaganda rather than truth. Selecting which items of information to believe, and which to reject, becomes as difficult for the historian of late Anglo-Saxon England as it would be for a modern intelligence officer to construe the political development of China using nothing but official press bulletins.
A brief history of the circumnavigators by Derek Wilson