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The History of the Britons

by Nennius
41 pages, Biography/History
Reviewed by Jenny

A nice little history, if not totally accurate.

Plot

Concerned with the decreasing awareness of British history as the face of the world begins to change, Nennius takes it upon himself to make some kind of an account for his people’s origins and their dealings with the outside world.

Morality

Nennius makes a point to exalt righteous behavior where he sees it in his historical figures, and to condemn the ignominious acts of the wicked.

Spiritual Content

Nennius does not for a moment question the sovereignty of God, and he frequently explains the course of events in light of God’s perfect wisdom, punctuating with man’s dependence on God’s will. Miracles are often mentioned, as well as the holy men who performed them. The historian is quite disparaging toward pagan individuals, their superstitious ways, and their hardheartedness toward the message of Christ.

Violence

Battles are frequently mentioned in passing, as Britain was in turmoil before and during Nennius’ time. Several individuals are recorded as dying in battles. Pagans occasionally find the wrath of heaven poured out when they refuse to repent of their wicked ways.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A group of men are inebriated and killed.

Sexual Content

One historical character is recorded as marrying his own daughter and having a son by her.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

Historical records from the fifth century to Nennius’ time in 800s are sketchy, inaccurate, and unreliable. While much of what Nennius records should probably be taken with a grain of salt and checked against the few other histories of the times, I found his little book to be very interesting. His genealogies of the various kingdoms are easy to follow, the ‘begats’ made less tedious as he weaves the actions of the men into the family trees. While somewhat superstitious himself, his unwavering faith in the sovereignty of God is refreshing, and his sense of justice is strong. An easy read, I would recommend this to anyone interested in a brief glimpse into post-Roman Britain.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 11-12

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