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This second book in the "Origins of England" trilogy examines the organization and make-up of Anglo-Saxon England in the early 7th century, taking as its starting point the highly rhetorical account of Britain's ecclesiastical history written by Bede. Bede made efforts to legitimise the English domination of his own day by comparing it to the Roman rule of Britain in the past. N.J. Higham re-examines and reinterprets the principal literary sources for an English "empire": Bede's famous list of "overkings" in Historical Ecclesiastica, and the Tribal Hidage. He argues that a comparatively stable and long-lived pattern of regional "overkingships" existed in early England. King Raedwald's career as a king and "overking" is described in detail. The book closes with an account of relations between the Anglo-Saxons and Britons in early England which provides insights into the structure of rural society in the age of Bede.
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