England Travel Journal – Reading List

If you are GSB regular, you know that in anticipation of GSB Travel Journals I publish a reading list.

Keeping that tradition alive, I offer the following books in preparation for following the GSB Team as we travel across the pond and back through history to study the christianization of England.

The books are as follows:

Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, The Venerable Bede. I love this book for the same reasons I love Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History-it is written by a man who loves God and is looking for His hand in history. I also like that Bede finished this book in 731 A.D., which makes him a lot closer to the events he describes than modern historians. The Venerable Bede has served as our posthumous tour guide before, and I expect we will lean hard on him again this time.

The White Horse King, Benjamin Merkle. The author had me hooked in the first few pages when he explained how historians are always looking for a new angle on popular historical figures to knock them off their perch but that in the case of Alfred the Great, there was a reason he is the only English monarch ever given “the Great” tag-he was truly a great man. The rest of the book did not disappoint.

Life of King Alfred, Asser. I love to read books by the subject’s contemporaries. Modern histories are too often written through secular lenses. Asser knew King Alfred because he served in his court, and both men loved God. This book will reveal the real King Alfred better than any other you will read.

Augustine of Canterbury, Robin MacKintosh. I’m just starting to read this one, but thus far it looks like it will be worth the read. Augustine of Canterbury is considered the Apostle to the English. Even though Christianity had arrived on England’s shores five hundred years before, by the time Augustine arrived, the retreat of the Romans, plagues, and paganism had left much of the island decidedly non-Christian. Augustine lived a life that changed all that.

History of William the Conqueror, Jacob Abbott. I already had David Bates’s lengthy biography of William, and I was tempted to read David Douglas’s 1964 biography of WTC, but for a first biography of an historical figure I don’t want to read a treatise before I get the general lay of the land. This biography was written in 1849 by an author interested in telling a story, not just reciting argument and counter-argument about events that leave the reader’s eyes glazed over.

Read quickly because we leave soon. GS

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