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Early Wars of Wessex

Early Wars of Wessex

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Excerpt from Early Wars of Wessex: Being Studies From England's, School of Arms in the West

The fragmentray nature of the records which tell us how Britain became England has led to many attempts at a reconstruction of the story from unwritten evidence. The reason, and perhaps the justification, for these endeavours is to be found in the fact that much of the early history of these islands remains writ large on the face of the country, if only we had the knowledge and ability to interpret the signs aright. The danger of such attempts to "write history without documents" has been pointed out by Mr W. H. Stevenson in his criticism of the methods and arguments used by the late Dr Guest in various papers republished in Origines Celtic?.

Recently another line has been worked by Major P. T. Godsal, who has endeavoured to reconstruct the early stages of the Saxon conquest by considering the military necessities and strategy involved in such a campaign. There is much in the brilliant romance which he has woven round the shadowy personalities of ?lla, the first Bretwalda, and Ambrosius Aurelianus, which calls for criticism and tends to obscure undoubtedly valuable work; but any historical study on such unorthodox lines will ever be anathema to the scholar whose vision is bounded by what he can find within the four walls of a library. On the other hand, we may claim that the attempt to write history from documents only is likely to be equally dangerous.

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