The Fighting Kings of Wessex

The Fighting Kings of Wessex

The Fighting Kings of Wessex

The Fighting Kings of Wessex

Synopsis

Emerging from the mists of legend at the time of the fall of Rome in the fifth century, the Saxon kings attempted to build a new kingdom around their own province of Wessex in southwestern England; strongly emphasizing a "collapse of civilization" theme, the author of this classic volume shows that Saxon England and Viking Scandinavia did not exist in isolation from the rest of Europe.

Excerpt

Since the outbreak of the Great War of 1914 the modern civilized man has seen a terrifying possibility before him, such as his father and grandfather never dreamed of—the possibility of the collapse of civilization. The most brilliant success of the war was not won on the battlefield. It was won in the counting-houses and exchanges of the world ; and it consisted in the skill and address with which civilization was steered through the dangers of economic collapse. Nothing at one time seemed likelier than that all our currencies might grow meaningless, all our credit begin to vanish and all our commercial relations become impossible. Civilized man flattered himself that the slaughter of millions of men was the really serious feature of the war. But civilization can survive far greater slaughters. What civilization cannot survive is economic disaster. Financial and commercial organization is the rainbow spell which holds together the irridescent enchantment of the civilized life. Once it fails—the whole thing has gone like a dream. And we were face to face with a possibility that this might happen.

It has, of course, happened in the past, as every student of history knows. The gulf which cuts us off from Roman civilization was just such a failure of economic function as this. The reader who blenches at the thought of reading a history of the Dark Ages may be reassured. He is not going to read of any " battle of kites and crows." He is going to survey the last occasion on which civilization actually did break down. There are two interesting features in such a survey. One is the way in which an old and powerful civilization can vanish ; the other is the method by which a new civilization begins.

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