This hour long program shows Michael Wood with his usual impish enthusiasm exploring the life of Aethelflaed in the tenth century in Britain, before England existed as a unified country, Queen of Mercia, at a time when she needed to either fight or to negotiate with Vikings and did both.
I thought this program was really beautifully made. Every shot of bleak countryside or present day towns was stunningly beautifully composed and lit. A shot of a field's rich earth surface was like an abstract painting. My own home town of Derby, a place the Vikings named, was shown looking so beautiful that I almost felt like returning there.
|Derby - Sadlergate|
Suitably spare and evocative music was used.
In addition to this there were many images of medieval manuscripts, hand written, which the presenter was able to read and translate from the Anglo Saxon. There was an elaborate illustrated family tree of the Monarchs on a scroll. There were drawings done with that lively economy of line in pen and ink that is so delightful and with which in my own drawings I feel a great affinity.
Michael Wood talked to various learned historians and archaeologists who each made interesting contributions.
We saw precious objects and ancient buildings. Above all we learnt that occasionally a woman could have a lot of power and influence in the middle ages.
There were a lot of battles and inhumane slaughter. It was almost the custom that plotters would murder rival heirs to the throne.
Returning to our present political democracy it seemed with all its difficulties a good deal more tolerant and peaceful.
Michael Wood turned the pages of a book made about a thousand years ago - not wearing gloves, in direct contact with the scribe who wrote it, and we participated in his wonderful enthusiasm and knowledge.
Note- there is a controversy over the term 'Anglo-Saxon' which has been used by racists in USA
but was used from early times without any such connotations as is explained by Michael Wood elsewhere.