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125 – King Oswiu: A Gathering Storm

125 – King Oswiu: A Gathering Storm

So in late 655, following his victory at the Winwaed, King Oswiu occupied and ruled Northern Mercia and thus now ruled over an additional 7,000 households, according to Bede. Consider how much power that was conferring upon the King. We’re talking about 7,000 hides of land. Think of how many Ceorls and Thegns now answered to him, and how much food rent he would now command, in addition to all the holdings of Bernicia and the tributes he...

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124 – Social Mobility: Getting a Raise in Anglo Saxon Kingdoms

124 – Social Mobility:  Getting a Raise in Anglo Saxon Kingdoms

Ok, so stratification… for the most part we’ve been talking about the Royals and how they’re pulling away from the peasants, but there’s another thing that’s occurring on the island with regard to status… because history is rarely black and white… and that thing is an increasing level of social mobility. And right now you might have thought you misheard me, or that I misspoke, but no… you heard right. Despite the increasing concentration...

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123 – Retail Therapy: The Rise of Anglo Saxon Towns

123 – Retail Therapy: The Rise of Anglo Saxon Towns

The days of subsistence farming and small local communities is drawing to a close. And just like the early egalitarian days came to an end with the concentration of wealth at the dynastic level, now we’re seeing a concentration of goods and trade at trading towns and the rise of a new urban and merchant class. And the farmers and their slaves, whether they knew it or not, were supporting the entire structure. Podcast: Play in new window |...

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122 – The Concentration of Power and Wealth

122 – The Concentration of Power and Wealth

Something strange has been happening in our story… and I’m going to very briefly touch upon the arrival of the Anglo Saxons simply because I want you to see how much things have changed. As you might remember, when we began on Season two, we saw Roman Britannia in collapse and the introduction of a new cultural group that was a mix of farmers and mercenaries: The Anglo Saxons. And these people were frighteningly poor. The Romano-British...

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121 – King Oswiu: The Aftermath of the Winwaed

121 – King Oswiu: The Aftermath of the Winwaed

Now the Battle of Maserfield had established Mercia as a dominant force on the island, and specifically it had demonstrated the military prowess of Penda. It was there that King Oswald of Northumbria was killed and his kingdom was split into two separate kingdoms, each with its own king. It was there that Mercian power, which had already been growing with their challenges to the West Saxons, reached its full stride and broke the...

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120 – Penda and Oswiu: The Winwaed

120 – Penda and Oswiu: The Winwaed

Imagine the scene… the weather had been horrendous. Torrential rains had battered the region for days. Penda and his men were tired, far from home… and they were weighted down with whatever gifts they had retained, and their forces were already weakened… and as the war was now over, perhaps some of the warbands were already marching off independently, heading back to wherever they came from. And so Penda’s once great army was...

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119 – King Penda: No Posers

119 – King Penda: No Posers

So we have King Penda of Mercia in a pretty powerful position… and Northumbria had been broken up into Bernicia and Deira with Oswiu ruling the former and his Nephew ruling the latter… and as for East Anglia, their King, Anna, was on the run because he was in an awkward position having offered sanctuary to the King of Wessex, who foolishly spurned Penda’s sister, and then when King Penda came to visit, King Anna was defeated and he...

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