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The Essay, Anglo-Saxon Portraits Episode 24 of 30

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 11 April 2013

The return of the major series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous we well as humble - written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

24. Athelstan

The son of King Alfred, Athelstan's concern for his people's well-being is apparent in his attempts to raise the age at which criminals might face the death penalty, to introduce the idea of prison as an alternative form of punishment, and to stop trading on Sundays - although this last provision did not catch on, and he was forced to revoke it later.

Sarah Foot makes a passionate claim for King Athelstan - whom the twelfth century historian, William of Malmesbury called the most law-abiding ruler that England had ever had - to be reinstated as a more significant figure in British history.

Producer : Beaty Rubens.


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  • Anglo-Saxon Portraits

    A series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of individuals.


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