The Godwins by Frank Barlow. Short non-fiction book by a history professor, detailing what we know about the dynasty.
Godwin emerged from obscurity in the reign of King Canute: he was an English nobleman but sided with the Danish invader, and married a Dane himself. Worked very well for him, he was able to amass vast estates; and the kingdom was peaceful and prosperous.
Godwin shrewdly married his daughter Edith to the next king, Edward the Confessor, and she exercised a considerable influence. Unhappy with their power, Edward tried to reign in the Godwin sons, at one point exiling them, but they returned and the other nobles refused to side militarily with Edward, brokering a peace deal instead. This was before the "New Monarchs": kings were vulnerable to their barons.
Eventually the Godwins got one of their own as king: Harold. Unfortunately William the Conqueror put paid to him after a very short reign. Barlow seems to think that Harold's best move would have been to not fight the Battle of Hastings at all: he thinks that after defeating Harold Hardrada in the North, Harold could have taken more time and built up his forces instead of rushing straight at the Bastard.
After the Norman Conquest, the surviving Godwin sons fled overseas, disappearing back into obscurity. Interestingly the women, Edith and Harold's daughter Gunhild, stayed alive and apparently unharmed in England.
The book might be a little dry for some, but I liked it a lot. It's briskly and directly written, and explains the primary sources in some detail. I get the feeling it's short only because that's how long it takes to explain everything we actually know.
Feel quite inspired by it. If I get canned at work, might use my free time to write a Godwins In Space saga.
What I'm Reading 2
Got around to the much acclaimed The Damned United by David Peace. Unusual and interesting book. Seems to me a kind of British version of a form you usually only see in America: the Literary Sport Novel, where sport is supposed to say profound things about the human condition. I have British writers have generally either been unimpressed by the flanneled fools and muddied oafs; or so overwhelmed with nostalgia and adoration that the result is rather bland.
The Damned United is told in the present tense, almost as a stream of consciousness, from the point of view of Brian Clough taking over management of Leeds United in 1974. Clough lasted only 44 days before being ousted in the face of overwhelming hostility from all sides.
The story's intertwined with italicised sections telling the parallel story of how Clough took Derby County to success in a previous job. As well as providing a lighter counterpoint, that thread gradually explains why Clough is in the mess he's in.
Overall, a good book, an intense read, and you don't need to be a football fan to appreciate it. Worth a look.
Visited the parents over the weekend. Dad's not doing so bad so far.
Seeing as we've heard so many instances of people being hassled over this, here's the low down: non-commercial photography on tube stations is most certainly allowed - and if any busybody tries to tell you different, politely tell them to bury their head in part 10 of rule Sa109 in the Working Reference Manual.Misc. Roman ship graveyard discovered (MeFi). The Good, the Bad and the Etsy, NSFW needlepoint (MeFi)
Pics. Shorpy: Casino bathing hall.
Video. Jeremy Clarkson beatbox.
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