This forthcoming publication contains the early medieval contemporary account of the great King Offa of Mercia and the ancestor after whom he was named. King Offa's Kingdom of Mercia was based at Lichfied, only a few miles from the site of the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard in July 2009. The book discusses and includes contemporary descriptions of the open hostility between the Angles and Saxons towards each other at the time, with graphic contemporary descriptions of the local battles and the gathering of such hoards, which resulted from these battles.
About to be available for the first time, this early medieval translation relates not only exploits of heroic achievement, but passionate sexual action. Not every damsel found in distress by the young king will turn out to be quite what he expects. And a scandalised queen from overseas can smother an unwanted son-in-law down her chamber toilet! This book does much to question many of the assumptions about early England and its royalty, as well as describing the ferocious battles, looting of dead warriors and what was considered heroism in Dark Age Britain.
The text of the story also incorporates previously unrecorded letters passing between Charlemagne and Offa of Mercia. For centuries English memories survive of their having been introduced to Middle and Northern England by an Arab adventurer. And whereas ordinarily we expect to see only the most accomplished medieval art to survive, in this we witness even a distinguished hand like that of Matthew Paris obliged to lay his work aside incomplete as illness or worse intervened.
The Lives of Two Offas demonstrates that the open hostility we know eighth-century Anglian and Saxon kingdoms displayed already existed prior to their departure from Europe. This is epitomised in the figure of a fourth-century English Offa, after whom the great Offa of Mercia was named - both disabled children turned into national heroes establishing an acknowledged frontier against their foes. Offa's Dyke explained at last! And, very possibly, the origins of the Stafford Hoard are explained by the warfare of the second King Offa, who could well have left us not only a dyke but also a large hoard of treasure from the preceding years, taken in his battles.
For pictures of the treasure see the website www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk
This is the latest book from Michael Swanton, one of the world's foremost experts on Anglo-Saxon England. He has spent his academic lifetime studying our ancestors' England and his expert translations of works such as Beowulf, Hereward the Wake and the great Anglo-Saxon Chronicle have a permanent place on our bookshelves. His latest book, which has taken nearly forty years of research, now presents us with a wide variety of significant new ideas and information. That it has reached completion at the same time as the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard is fortuitous synchronicity and the book and the discovery should be considered together by both the academic and the interested layman.
Pre-publication orders can be placed by emailing Dr Tom Blaen firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting him at The Medieval Press Ltd, Curfew Cottage, Church Street, Crediton, Devon EX17 2AA, United Kingdom. Tel. no. (UK) 01363 773121/772992. Fax no. 01363 774775.
Arrangements to order the book direct from this site will be made as soon as the first copies are available. Please keep checking this site for further publicity and purchasing details.