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Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England

Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England
Eleanor Parker

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One narrative, the stereotypical one, might have it so. But locked away in the buried history of the British Isles are other, far richer and more nuanced, stories; and these hidden tales paint a picture very different from the ferocious pillagers of popular repute. Eleanor Parker here unlocks secrets that point to more complex motivations within the marauding army that in the late ninth century voyaged to the shores of eastern England in its sleek, dragon-prowed longships. Exploring legends from forgotten medieval texts, and across the varied Anglo-Saxon regions, she depicts Vikings who came not just to raid but also to settle personal feuds, intervene in English politics and find a place to call home. Native tales reveal the links to famous Vikings like Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons; Cnut; and Havelok the Dane. Each myth shows how the legacy of the newcomers can still be traced in landscape, place-names and local history. This book uncovers the remarkable degree to which England is Viking to its core.

Author Info

Eleanor Parker is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) in the University of Oxford and also a member of Worcester College, Oxford. Her DPhil, obtained in 2013 from the same university, addressed the subject of Anglo-Scandinavian Literature in the Post-Conquest Period. Dr Parker writes an acclaimed blog in her guise as A Clerk of Oxford, called 'an orchard of golden apples' by the Daily Telegraph. In 2015 her blog won the Longman-History Today Award for Digital History, and she now writes a regular column for History Today.


‘In this welcome new book, Eleanor Parker sketches the fascinating and varied ways in which the people of medieval England reflected upon their Viking past – both real and imagined. Part literary study, part historical investigation and part folkloric inquiry, it makes a riveting and rewarding read.’ – Levi Roach, Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Exeter, author of Æthelred: The Unready

Dragon Lords offers an absorbing and authoritative account of the survival of Scandinavian legends and history in post-Conquest England. From dragon-ships to bears’ sons, and sinners to saints, Eleanor Parker’s nuanced readings of English, French, Old Norse and Latin sources unpack a wealth of unfamiliar and exciting stories. This beautifully written book succeeds in casting Viking invaders and settlers in an unexpected new light.’ – Carolyne Larrington, Professor of Medieval European Literature, University of Oxford, author of The Land of the Green Man: A Journey Through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles

‘Dragon Lords tells the fascinating and hitherto unknown story of how the Viking invasions of England were turned into myth and legend by those whom the Scandinavians raided and later ruled. These intriguing tales, some still familiar today, feature fierce Viking warriors such as the vengeful sons of Ragnar Lothbrok; or powerful Earl Siward, the grandson of a bear; and the Danish kings of England, Svein Forkbeard and Canute. Eleanor Parker – who is already celebrated for making the medieval accessible with her much admired blog “The Clerk of Oxford” – vividly re-tells and contextualises this material (with its dragons, raven banners and unturning tides) while demonstrating at the same time a truly impressive command of Anglo-Scandinavian history and literature.’ – Heather O’Donoghue, Professor of Old Norse, University of Oxford, author of From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781784537869
Publication Date: 29 Apr 2018
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 226
Width: 155
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations

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